THE GOVERNMENT plans to introduce new fire precautions legislation with far-reaching implications for all workplaces, and especially the railways.
In 1987, after the King’s Cross fire in which 31 people died, the Fennell report introduced a number of recommendations that led to the Fire Precautions Regulation (1989), under section 12 of the Fire Precautions Act (1971).
The 1989 regulations were specific to the railways, and in particular to subsurface stations.
This included minimum staffing levels at these stations.
The new proposed Fire Reform Bill, which comes from deputy prime minister John Prescott’s department, will, if passed, repeal the 1971 act, including everything that came under section 12 of that act.
It is an attempt to scale back the regulations coming out of the King’s Cross fire—in particular it will scale back staffing levels in subsurface stations.
We believe this is, in part, preparing the ground for a looming confrontation with rail unions on the railways and the London Underground.