Fire Safety is paramount as fire presents a significant risk to businesses and can kill or seriously injure employees or visitors as well as damage buildings and stock.
Fires are often causes by carelessness, lack of knowledge and faulty equipment and in most cases can be prevented. Therefore you should put in place systems and measures to prevent or reduce the risk of fire, as well as procedures and fire safety equipment in the event of a real fire.
Fire Risk Assessment
It is your responsibility as an owner of a business or premises to carry out a fire risk assessment on the building and for it to be reviewed regularly. There are 5 steps that your risk assessment should take:
- Identify the fire hazards
- Identify people at risk
- Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks
- Record findings, prepare emergency plan and provide training
- Review and update the assessment
You should communicate the findings to all those affected and provide information on the relevant procedures and actions that should be taken in the event of a fire. It should also inform every one of the control measures in place to prevent fire and their responsibilities to maintain these measures.
Fire Warning System
The level of warning system will be determined by the fire risk assessment and the activities of the building. A typical warning system includes:
- Automatic fire detectors
- Break glass/manual call points
- Electronic siren/bell
- Control panel
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that a weekly test of the fire alarm system must be carried out by the responsible person.
All personnel in a building should know the fire escape plan either communicated through information or training. There needs to be at least 2 ways of exiting a building and escape routes must be kept clear at all times.
Escape routes must be signposted and lighting provided, there may also be the need for emergency lighting in case the fire causes the power to fail. The emergency lighting should be tested monthly.
Fire doors can protect escape routes and they should be fitted with self-closers and never propped open. All fire doors and exits must be kept unlocked when the building is occupied.
The escape route must lead to a safe place to assemble and be accounted for. Depending on your location you may decide to operate an escape and disperse evacuation using technology to confirm your point of safety.
A fire drill should take place each year, you should record the time taken to evacuate, the effectiveness and any learning points.
All premises should have equipment installed and serviced suitable for putting out fires as appropriate for the use and risks presented in the building. Such equipment may include:
- Extinguishers – Water (Red label), Foam (Cream label), Powder (Blue label). CO2 (Black label)
- Fire Blankets
- Sprinkler systems