MORE than two-thirds of Hampshire businesses inspected in the last 12 months have failed a fire safety audit, a new report has revealed.

The research suggests firms around the county are “gambling with their future by cutting back on vital safety work”.

Hampshire-based independent fire expert Safety Management (UK) has compiled a study showing 972 of the 1,390 premises audited by fire chiefs in the year to March were found to be unsatisfactory.

Managing director Brian Gregory said: “Often business owners and managers feel that by having fire extinguishers in place and have a fire detection system in their building they are covered.

“But critically, unless the assessment is completed by a competent person, there is no guarantee that the fire detection is the right system for the building.

“Small businesses are feeling the pressure of the recession and they are looking to save money where they can, but putting fire safety to the bottom of their priorities is a false economy.”