How to Keep Your Staff Fire Safe

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Fire safety is not only a legal requirement for businesses, but also a moral responsibility. A fire can cause serious damage to property, equipment, and inventory, as well as endanger the lives and health of your staff and customers. Therefore, it is essential that you take the necessary steps to prevent fires from occurring and to prepare your staff for how to respond in case of an emergency.

Here are our First Call tips on how to keep your staff fire safe:

Conduct a fire risk assessment

A fire risk assessment is a systematic process of identifying and evaluating the potential sources of fire and the hazards they pose to your business. It also involves determining the appropriate measures to reduce or eliminate the risks and to protect people and property in case of a fire. A fire risk assessment should be carried out by a competent person, such as a fire safety consultant from First Call Fire, or a qualified member of your staff, and should be reviewed and updated regularly.

Some of the factors to consider in a fire risk assessment are:

  • The layout and design of your premises, including the location and condition of fire exits, fire doors, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and other fire safety equipment.
  • The type and quantity of flammable or combustible materials, such as paper, cardboard, wood, textiles, chemicals, fuels, or gases, that are stored or used in your premises.
  • The activities and processes that involve heat, sparks, flames, or electricity, such as cooking, welding, soldering, or machinery operation, that could ignite a fire or fuel its spread.
  • The number and characteristics of your staff and customers, such as their age, mobility, health, or language, that could affect their ability to escape or be rescued in case of a fire.
  • The existing fire safety arrangements and procedures, such as fire drills, fire training, fire signage, fire evacuation plans, or fire maintenance, that are in place to prevent and respond to fires.

Based on your fire risk assessment, you should implement the necessary fire safety measures, such as:

  • Removing or reducing the sources of ignition and fuel as much as possible, such as by keeping flammable materials away from heat sources, using non-flammable alternatives, or storing them in fire-resistant containers or cabinets.
  • Installing and maintaining adequate fire detection and warning systems, such as smoke alarms, heat detectors, or fire alarm panels, that can alert your staff and customers of a fire and allow them to evacuate safely and quickly.
  • Providing and maintaining sufficient fire-fighting equipment, such as fire extinguishers, fire blankets, or fire hoses, that are suitable for the type and size of fire that could occur in your premises and that are easily accessible and visible.
  • Ensuring that all fire exits and routes are clear, unobstructed, well-lit, and well-marked, and that they lead to a safe place outside the building.
  • Provide staff fire safety training, such as by instructing them on how to prevent fires, how to use fire-fighting equipment, how to raise the alarm, how to evacuate, and where to assemble in case of a fire.
  • Conducting regular fire drills and testing your fire safety systems and equipment, such as by simulating a fire scenario and checking the functionality and performance of your fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and fire doors.

Create a fire emergency plan

A fire emergency plan is a document that outlines the roles and responsibilities of your staff and the actions they should take in case of a fire. It should be based on your fire risk assessment and should be communicated and understood by all your staff. A fire emergency plan should include:

  • The names and contact details of the person(s) responsible for fire safety in your business, such as the fire warden, the fire marshal, or the fire safety officer, and their deputies.
  • The procedures for raising the alarm and contacting the fire and rescue service, such as by activating the fire alarm, calling 999, or using a designated phone or radio.
  • The procedures for evacuating the premises, such as by following the fire exit signs, using the nearest and safest fire exit, closing the doors behind them, and not using the lifts or escalators.
  • The procedures for accounting for all staff and customers, such as by using a roll call, a register, or a head count, and reporting any missing or trapped persons to the fire and rescue service.
  • The procedures for fighting the fire, such as by using the appropriate fire-fighting equipment, following the instructions on the label, and not endangering themselves or others.
  • The location and contents of the fire assembly point, such as by using a map, a diagram, or a sign, and ensuring that it is a safe distance from the building and does not obstruct the access of the fire and rescue service.
  • The procedures for re-entering the premises, such as by waiting for the permission of the fire and rescue service, checking for any damage or hazards, and restoring the normal operations of the business.

Review and revise your fire safety measures

Fire safety is not a one-off task, but a continuous process that requires regular monitoring and evaluation. You should review and revise your fire safety measures whenever there is a change in your business, such as:

  • A change in the layout or design of your premises, such as by adding, removing, or altering partitions, walls, doors, windows, or furniture.
  • A change in the type or quantity of flammable or combustible materials, such as by introducing, replacing, or disposing of products, materials, or equipment.
  • A change in the activities or processes that involve heat, sparks, flames, or electricity, such as by adopting, modifying, or discontinuing a method, a technique, or a procedure.
  • A change in the number or characteristics of your staff and customers, such as by hiring, firing, or training staff, or by attracting, losing, or diversifying customers.
  • A change in the fire safety arrangements and procedures, such as by installing, upgrading, or repairing fire safety systems and equipment, or by updating, amending, or improving fire safety policies and plans.

You should also review and revise your fire safety measures after a fire incident, a near miss, or a fire drill, as these can provide valuable feedback and learning opportunities for your business. You should identify the causes and consequences of the fire, the strengths and weaknesses of your fire safety measures, and the areas for improvement and action.

For support in assessing how ‘fire safe’ your business and staff are, call First Call Fire today on 01995 61999 or email us at firstcallfire@aol.com