Are you leaving fire safety to chance? Advice for business
Fire is one of the biggest risks facing a business, threatening people, property, assets and operations. Businesses must take proactive steps to prevent a fire emergency.
Fire Safety Order 2005
Are you aware of your legal obligations to protect employees and premises?
If you own, manage or operate a business, you will need to comply with fire safety law. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force in October 2006 and applies across England and Wales.
Under the Fire Safety Order, business owners and managers have a duty of care to ensure premises reach required standards and employees receive fire safety training. This training must cover general fire awareness and should include refresher or extra training in line with operational business changes.
Fire Risk Assessments
A Fire Risk Assessment is the crucial first step for all businesses, no matter how big or small. It will identify current fire risks and failings which need to be resolved. Many owners or managers feel they don’t have the expertise or time to carry out their own assessment and call on trusted Fire & Safety experts to help.
Risk assessments look at many factors, including emergency routes and exits, fire detection and warning systems, firefighting equipment on premises and evacuation plans. The needs of vulnerable people on site are also considered, including those with disabilities or mobility needs.
The type of building you operate in and the nature of your work will determine which fire detection and warning systems are needed. Regular testing and maintenance of alarm systems is crucial.
Evacuation plans are a key part of the risk assessment. You must ensure there are enough exits for employees and visitors, with routes clearly signposted and kept clear of obstruction. Employees should know where their nearest assembly point is, outside the building, and fire marshals should actively guide people out of the building and ensure no one is left inside.
Accredited Fire Marshal Training
Do you have fully trained and qualified fire marshals on your premises?
In line with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, there must be a sufficient number of trained fire marshals on every site. How many trained fire marshals do you currently have on standby?
Accredited fire marshal training, delivered by trusted Fire & Safety providers, will ensure you meet legal obligations and employees gain valuable skills. Depending on your provider, training can be delivered at your location or at third-party premises and usually involves a blend of classroom theory and practical exercises.
The introduction of virtual reality (VR) technology has made an impact on many sectors, including Fire Safety. It’s now possible to provide employees with fire marshal training in a VR environment in any workplace, saving time, money and resources.
The duties of a fire marshal will depend on risk assessment findings but generally includes identifying and reporting fire hazards in the workplace, checking escape routes are kept clear and helping to evacuate people if the alarm is raised. If safe to do so, they will use appropriate extinguishers to tackle the fire.
Regular Fire Equipment Checks
Are your fire extinguishers operational and up to date?
Fire extinguishers must be maintained and tested annually to ensure they’re in good working order and your fire marshals trained to use them. The next generation of cost-effective and sustainable P50 fire extinguishers now provide a longer-term guarantee and do not require servicing annually.
Specialist First Response Teams
Larger, more complex organisations working in specific industrial sectors may have wider Fire Safety responsibilities to address.
In this instance, Specialist First Response Teams can help. A fully equipped First Response Vehicle, manned by trained crew, can extinguish small fires, deliver first aid, provide an intervention for lift entrapment and help with chemical spills and environmental incidents.
A First Response Team will be first to attend any on-site incident and will be the key contact point for local emergency services responding to larger, more serious incidents.
A First Response Team is present at the University of Hertfordshire on a 24/7 basis, helping to keep students, staff and visitor safe.
Dale Murphy, Head of Security & Resilience at the University of Hertfordshire, comments: “Students, staff and visitors are reassured by the constant presence of the First Response Vehicle.
“There are many high-risk areas on a campus, including student living accommodation and laboratories, so having a skilled team on standby to handle emergencies, and support the local emergency services in a major incident, is invaluable.”
With 15,000 business fires in 2017/18, ask yourself if you’re leaving fire safety to chance.
Fire & Safety Services, Securitas