According to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, if you’re an employer, owner, landlord or occupier of a business in England and Wales, you are legally responsible for fire safety within that building. This means you have an obligation to protect the building, and everyone within it, from the threat of fire as far as possible and, under the Fire Safety Order, this makes you the ‘responsible person’.
As the ‘responsible person’ there are a host of tasks you must undertake and steps you must implement to: reduce the likelihood of fire, put an efficient evacuation process in place and ensure all of your employees are aware and informed of fire safety and your building’s procedures.
Fire Risk Assessments
Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment is one of the first, and most important, things businesses must do in order to comply with fire safety laws. If your business has five or more employees, your Risk Assessment must be kept as a written record and this should then be regularly reviewed and subsequently updated.
The aim of a Fire Risk Assessment is to identify the fire hazards within your environment and the people at risk and then implement changes to eradicate or reduce these risks. There are five steps to a Risk Assessment and, due to the meticulous nature of each one, most companies choose to hire a professional fire safety company to conduct theirs.
Planning for an Emergency
Once the risks and hazards within your property have been identified, it is vital to plan exactly what would happen in the event of an actual emergency. This means carefully and comprehensively planning evacuation routes and ensuring they are as safe and efficient as possible.
This should include making sure there are enough clear and unblocked exits for everyone to escape from – experts recommend at least two alternatives from each room in case the fire is blocking one – and that there are designated meeting points. You should also consider anyone who may be more vulnerable during an evacuation, such as children, people with disabilities and the elderly.
Equipment, such as fire safety signs and emergency lighting, should also be installed where appropriate to make the evacuation routes immediately obvious, easy to understand and safe to navigate through.
Installing Fire Equipment
One of the best ways to remove or reduce the fire risks within your environment is to install high quality fire equipment. All business environments must contain a fire detection and warning system which, for most commercial premises, means installing a fire alarm system. Reputable fire alarm suppliers will tailor a system to the requirements of your environment.
Most businesses also require fire fighting equipment and this includes fire extinguishers, fire blankets and sprinkler systems, conditional to the environment you work in. For example, there are a variety of fire extinguishers available, depending on the application and type of fire being tackled. Again, fire equipment suppliers can advise you on the types of fire extinguisher required for your business.
Provide Information, Instruction and Training
All new staff members should be trained on fire safety, including evacuation procedures, fire alarm system instructions and the location and use of fire extinguishers. Fire safety signage is also a great way to conform to regulations regarding information as they offer a permanent, tangible method of instruction.
Fire drills should also be conducted to make sure everyone is thoroughly aware of evacuation procedures. These should be done regularly – at least once a year – and also provide an ideal opportunity to make sure your evacuation routes are suitable. Any findings from the fire drill should be recorded and any remedial action necessary should be taken. Additionally, any new risks identified within your environment should be communicated to all employees.
Professional fire safety training programmes are also recommended for larger businesses, as it involves nominating Fire Safety Wardens who then also become responsible for overseeing fire safety and will learn valuable skills, including how to use a fire extinguisher.
This post was written on behalf of City Fire Protection & Maintenance Services LLP by George Musson.