The importance of fire safety in the workplace

The damage that office fires can cause is underestimated, with over half of small businesses being forced to close in the 12 months following a fire due to the extreme levels of disruption that’s been caused. Do you know how to keep your business safe?

Fires need 3 things to start, a source of ignition (heat), a source of fuel (something that burns) and oxygen. 

  • Sources of ignition include heaters, lighting, naked flames, electrical equipment, smokers paraphernalia and anything else that gets very hot or causes a spark.

  • Sources of fuel include wood, paper, plastic, rubber or foam, loose packaging materials, waste rubbish and furniture.

  • Sources of oxygen include the air around us.

As an employer, the owner, the landlord, an occupier or anyone else with control of the premises, for example, a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor you’re responsible for fire safety within the business or other non-domestic premises. 

To help prevent a fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should point out or identify what could cause a fire and also the people who are at risk. 

If you’re the responsible person, what are your responsibilities? 

  • Carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises

  • Review the risk assessment regularly 

  • If you have identified any risks, tell staff or their representatives. 

  • Ensure there is good housekeeping throughout the premises, eg avoid build-up of rubbish that could burn. 

  • Provide all staff with the right information, fire safety instructions and training. Eg do practice drills so all staff know where to go in an evacuation and everyone knows what their roles are if they are fire marshalls for the building. 

  • Plan for an emergency, eg escape routes not being blocked and is clearly labelled. 

  • Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for putting a small fire out quickly. 

What fire fighting equipment do you need?

The types of equipment you’ll need will depend on the business premises. But for any equipment, you need to have it properly installed, tested and maintained and train your staff to use them if necessary.

Regular maintenance and testing

All businesses must carry out regular checks to make sure that all the following are working correctly:

  • Fire alarm systems 

  • Emergency lighting

  • Recording of any faults in the equipment or system

  • Automatic fire doors close

  • All fire escape routes can be opened easily

  • All escape routes are clear and the floor is in good condition

  • Fire exit signs are in the right place

Fire drills and training

All staff will need to be trained on the fire drill, where the fire exits are and where the assembly point is for your workforce. You will also need to inform employees about any new fire risks that arise. 

You should carry out at least one fire drill per year and record the results. This will help staff become familiar with exit routes closest to them and how to get to the assembly point. You must keep the results of the drills as part of your fire safety and evacuation plan.

Not sure where to start when it comes to protecting your workforce and business against fires? ElectriQL can help with fire alarm testing and report on any remedial and maintenance work needed. With any QL system, we cover installation, commissioning and training on fire alarms. We train our customers so they know how to respond to any fire alarm activity, reducing call-outs and the amount of disruption caused by an alarm. 

Contact us by calling 0800 9175 721 or emailing [email protected] to discuss fire-related regulations in more detail. 

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