fire safety
The National Fire Chiefs Council’s Business Safety Week takes place next month, running from the 10th to the 16th September. It aims to encourage businesses to think about whether they’ve taken all the necessary steps to protect themselves and their employees from fire. In particular, the NFCC is keen to get fire safety messages across to small and medium-sized businesses as they are likely to be less aware of what they need to do or know how to go about it. Fire affects many UK businesses every year; in 2016/17 there were 19,410 fires reported to the fire and rescue services. So the week aims to remind businesses about the need to review fire risk assessments, record information and make sure employees are trained regularly so they are aware of risks and can respond in the event of an incident. Yes, we know it might seem early to be talking about Christmas but the safety week is also taking the opportunity to highlight the fact that activity will soon be ramping up ahead of what can be a really busy time for certain businesses. It’s likely many will be taking on extra stock and new or seasonal staff. So consideration needs to be given to fire inductions and the fire safety implications sooner rather than later. As well as these more generalised reminders, the business safety week is also highlighting some specific fire safety issues: arson prevention, reducing false fire alarms and fire safety in premises with sleeping accommodation. Arson Prevention Statistics show that in 2016-17 around 30% (5,518) of the fires in UK businesses were due to arson. It was the most common cause of fire in shops and retail premises. Most arson attacks aren't planned. Arsonists just see an opportunity and take it. So the week is reminding businesses about ways they can reduce the risk of being targeted:
  • Keep rubbish to a minimum. Store it in secure areas or in lockable bins well away from buildings and don't let it accumulate. In particular, make sure flammable materials that could accelerate a fire aren’t accessible.
  • Where possible, ensure you always know who is at your premises by having good signing in and out procedures.
  • Fit anti-arson letter boxes.
  • Take a look at how you secure your premises. Equipment like fencing, lighting and CCTV can help deter arsonists (and other criminals).
Reducing false fire alarms Every time the fire and rescue services attend a false alarm, it takes them away from genuine emergencies and the day-to-day preventative work they are involved in. It’s a waste of money too, both for the fire service and for your business in lost productivity. In fact, it’s been estimated false alarms cost the UK economy around £1 billion a year. If your alarm system is aging and becoming unreliable, consider whether the time has come to replace it. If it keeps going off and your local fire service is continually being called out to false alarms, they may end up charging you. If it’s not time to replace it, it may be due to something as straightforward to sort out as the wrong detector in the wrong place so it’s worth getting some advice. Sleeping accommodation premises There are many different types of sleeping accommodation premises. But whatever their nature, the fact that people are asleep clearly increases the degree of vulnerability if a fire breaks out. A thorough fire risk assessment that takes the specific nature of the premises into account is obviously essential but here are some of the more general considerations the safety week is highlighting:
  • Is there a fire alarm which is audible over the entire property – and is it loud enough to wake people?
  • Are there clear and unobstructed escape routes?
  • Are communal areas tidy and clutter free?
  • If people live above a commercial premises, have adequate steps been taken to separate and fire-proof the residential part of the building?
As part of the week, Fire and Rescue Services across the country will be offering businesses fire safety advice and you can join in or follow the discussions by using the hashtag #BSW18. And if you have any specific issues or queries you would like some help with, remember you can also get in touch with us.