The final part in our Fire Safety Tips for the workplace covers fire detection, prevention (such as fire doors) and warning systems. We also include a list of useful links regarding fire safety law and legislation at the foot of the post.
Invest in Fire Detection and implement warning systems
• Place standardised and compliant notices next to phone and fire points, paying particular attention to emergency exits displaying evacuation plan.
• Ensure emergency phone numbers, full company address and exit strategy is visible on evacuation plan. In its simplest format building users should be informed to: raise the alarm if fire found, exit the building, contact fire services.
• The “responsible person” typically checks the building for other staff. If the business occupies a number of offices it may be necessary to create a number of “fire safety officer” roles. Again these should be suitably trained. Once someone exits the building they should not return. Belongings should be left. Make sure all employees know this.
• Invest in industry approved smoke detectors and fire alarms.
• Arrange fire drills at set points throughout the year. The regularity of these may be set by the local authority or guidelines for your industry.
• Check the battery in smoke alarms monthly and change the battery once a year.
• It is recommended to replace smoke alarms every ten years.
• Place fire extinguishers according to fire safety requirements. A rule of thumb is one fire extinguisher per 200 square metre of floor space and at least one on each floor of your workplace.
• Check fire extinguishers regularly, ensuring they are fully charged and ready for use. Keep a log of when these were last expected and do this once a month.
Ensure installation of suitable fire exits and fire doors
• Clearly label fire door and exists. Use specialist lighting to identify ways out of the building should power failure occur.
• Ensure fire doors and exits are kept closed. Do not prop or wedge these open. It is an offence to do so and you are putting others at risk if a fire occurs.
• Fire escape routes and exits must be kept clear of any and all obstructions. Combustible items should not be stored anywhere near exits.
• If you need to regularly access areas that are connected via fire doors, consider a free-door system which allows you to keep the fire door propped open whilst adhering to fire safety regulations. These systems can prove effective in preventing congestion in connecting corridors.
Inspections may be unannounced and an inspector is legally entitled to enter premises to ask about the identity of the Responsible person, inspect or copy fire safety records and review the site. By following the suggestions above you will ensure the safety of those working with you.
Failure to comply with the Fire Safety Order may result in legal action that could incur a hefty fine or imprisonment. The Enforcing Authority will ordinarily be a Fire Inspector from the local Fire Brigade. In special cases the HSE or Local Authority may be involved.
To keep ahead of changes to regulations and to ensure staff are trained suitably, it would be wise to use an accredited training provider. Training providers can be found online with an example being TutorCare Limited who are one of the UK’s largest Vocational training providers. For more information visit here – http://www.tutorcare.co.uk/fire-safety-training-courses. Courses start at 2 hours on-site and can be combined to cover a number of elements from Fire Marshalling and Fire detection to Practical Fire Extinguisher use. They also have a range of certification (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) covering Fire safety Awareness and Risk Assessment.
Useful links when preparing your own plan:
Fire Safety in the workplace – https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/who-is-responsible
Fire Safety Law – http://www.cfoa.org.uk/10275
Fire Safety HSE – http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/fire.htm
Relevant Legislation – http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2005/20051541.htm