The Forum urges businesses to review fire safety and security

In light of the recent tragic event in London, and the terrible impact on people and property, it brings the subject of fire safety to the forefront of our minds.

Here at the Forum, we thought it was appropriate to remind members to keep themselves and their staff safe at work and to ensure that you review your fire precautions and make sure up to date arrangements are in place to help prevent any incidents, big or small.

Ian Cass, the Forum’s Managing Director goes on to explain:

In light of the recent tragic event in London, and the terrible impact on people and property, it brings the subject of fire safety to the forefront of our minds. My Mum lives in a retirement home and recently there was a fire in the middle of the night when her kitchen freezer caught fire. She got out of her apartment and the damage was controlled thanks to a few simple precautions. These precautionary measures included good doors that were in place and closed at night slowing down the spread of the fire. There were smoke alarms in place that were regularly checked, which in this case, actually woke her up and gave her time to get out. The residents also have regular visits from the fire service, so she knew what to do, where to go and to keep calm. The Fire crew on the day said that “the precautions which were in place and the fact that an 85-year-old lady knew what to do, probably saved her life.”

Managing fire risk

Managing fire risk is an essential business management function and it’s also a legal requirement. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) requires a business to assess the fire risks from their operations. The last thing any employer wants is to have the devastation of a fire at their business, so here are a few steps to take to help prevent any fires.

Every business must have a ‘responsible person’, in most cases this is the employer/owner. But in larger businesses, this may be a designated person.

The responsible person needs to do the following 5 things:-

1. Carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises, which should follow these 5 steps

  • Identify fire hazards (sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen)
  • Identify people at risk (people in and around the premises and people who are especially at risk)
  • Evaluate the risks of a fire occurring and the risk to people from fire, remove or reduce fire hazards
  • Record the significant findings and any actions taken (prepare an emergency plan, inform and instruct relevant people, cooperate and coordinate with others and provide training)
  • Keep the assessment under review and revise where necessary.

2. Tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified

3. Put in place, and maintain appropriate fire safety measures

4. Plan for an emergency

5. Provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training, don’t forget people do move on and change roles so keep up to date on this.

The fire safety measures within your workplace

The fire measure must comprise the following:

  • Measures to reduce the risk of fire and the risk of spread of fire, like fire doors, sprinklers, fire blankets and good staff training.
  • The means of escape from fire, how are you going to get out, and options to do so
  • The measures necessary to assist people in the use of the escape routes, such as emergency escape lighting, fire exit signs and measures for smoke control
  • Fire extinguishing appliances in place and do people know how to use them?
  • Any fire alarm system necessary to ensure the safety of occupants
  • An emergency plan. In simple premises, the emergency plan may be no more than a fire action notice, but it is important that the procedure to adopt in the event of fire is disseminated to all service users
  • Maintenance of all of the above measures
  • Maintenance of measures required by legislation (including the Building Regulations) for the safety of, or use by, firefighters
  • Appropriate fire safety measures should be determined by undertaking a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment.

Business safety

You should also think about what impact the fire may have on your business and develop a business continuity plan to cover possible outcomes. This may include obtaining specific business interruption or business continuity insurance to ensure that you can be resilient in getting the business back and operating after a serious event.

Home safety

Don’t forget, it is also useful to think about these measures within your own home as the same principles apply.

Health and Safety Guide 2017

Further detail can also be found in this year’s 20th edition of the Forum Health and Safety Guide. This is a vital resource written specifically to help businesses manage their health and safety duties efficiently and effectively. For more information please call our membership team on 01565 626 001 between 8.30am and 5pm.

We are here to help

We hope that you find the above information useful and please remember you can get further help and advice from our helpline by calling 01565 626 001.