Building control officers carry out a reassessment of fire safety procedures as national walkout begins.
Football grounds were this week reassessing safety and evacuation procedures after Fire Brigades Union prepared to call a national strike.

The Football Licensing Authority has written to all building control officers to urge them to carry out risk assessments of stadiums in their areas.

Local authority building control officers then instructed clubs to review procedures as the first 48-hour national strike was due to start on Wednesday at 6pm, after talks between union leaders and the government broke down. Firefighters would normally be on standby at football games.

The decision to review stadium safety came as a group of building control experts called Core Cities prepared to meet in two weeks' time to discuss ways of dealing with a terror attack on a sporting arena.

Core City group member for Birmingham council, Trevor Perkins, said building control officers had contacted sports grounds to reassess safety certificates. He said: "Stadiums will need to have extra fire stewards but also need to review evacuation procedures."

Perkins said stadiums that employed phased evacuation techniques, where only part of a ground was evacuated in the event of a small fire, would now have to evacuate the entire stadium.

It is understood that Aston Villa football club's stadium, Villa Park, is one ground that will have to scrap its phased evacuation procedure.

Football Licensing Authority chief executive John de Quidt said that he had asked every club to carry out a risk assessment.

He confirmed that the FLA had written to local authorities but said that he was not keeping a record of the changes at every club.

Stadiums must have extra fire stewards but will also need to review evacuation

Building control official Trevor Perkins

De Quidt said: "There are a few football clubs that will be modifying procedures but these will only have a minor impact."

Local authority building control officers are in charge of issuing safety certificates to the clubs so that fixtures during strikes can get the go-ahead.

Football clubs will have to adhere to changes stipulated by local authorities in order to obtain the safety certificates.

The Core City group is to reconvene on 28 November to discuss the renewed threat to buildings in the UK after warnings from the Home Office and Tony Blair this week.

National Sports Ground Safety Group chairman Trevor Macintosh said the meeting would address the issue of containment after a terror attack.

He said: "The issue is whether to decontaminate people as they leave buildings attacked by bioterrorists, or contain them within the building."

Building revealed in March that one idea considered by the Core Cities group was the construction of shower facilities outside stadiums to decontaminate victims.

It was also revealed that the group was trying to draw up guidance on how public arena managers ought to deal with bioterror attacks in terms of evacuation and shutting plant and machinery.