Having effective fire safety protocols in place is essential for achieving compliance with UK legislation and guidelines, and for ensuring the safety of staff and members of the public. In addition, non-compliance with fire safety legislation is a serious offence, and may result in unlimited fines and even prison sentences for the responsible parties.
Under the Fire Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, businesses should review their fire safety protocols every 12 months at a minimum. This review should follow a fire drill and fire safety risk assessment so that you can identify any underlying weaknesses in your current fire evacuation protocol.
Then, any problems you do find in the protocol should be addressed to ensure that the occupants of your premises are kept safe from potential fire risks.
Here, we will outline the steps you can take to enhance your fire security practices, and describe the small changes your business can make to stay compliant and up to date with the current legislation.
1. Carry Out A Fire Drill
Fire drills should be routinely performed a minimum of twice a year, although this number may vary depending on your business sector.
Carrying out a fire drill will allow you to observe any practical difficulties that may exist when trying to enforce your safety procedures. For example, you may find that there are physical factors you might not have considered – such as large and obtrusive office furniture that gets in the way of escape – or perhaps you’ll learn that certain members of your team do not respond to emergencies in the manner you expect, and may require a more supportive plan to enable them to safely evacuate the building.
Running fire drills enables you to identify any issues which arise in practice so that you can resolve them in a safe environment; just be sure to inform your team of any protocol changes you make so they can be kept up to date with your new safety practices.
2. Complete A Fire Safety Risk Assessment
Once your team has completed the fire drill, you should be aware of any issues that are raised and have some idea of how to resolve them - this will form the basis of your fire risk assessment.
Fire safety risk assessments should be carried out every year by a competent person, and every 3-4 years by a qualified professional.
Your fire safety risk assessment should include:
• A thorough identification of any fire risks - actual or potential - and of any personnel who may require additional support during an emergency; these individuals may include older members of staff, people with disabilities and/or mobility issues, and those with a mental health condition which affects their ability to respond effectively - such as anxiety disorders or cognitive impairments
• Preparing or reviewing your emergency plan, and ensuring that all members of staff are updated on any changes to evacuation and fire safety protocols
• Assigning responsibilities and/or reviewing the responsibilities you already have in place. These include: who will report the fire to management, who will alert the emergency services, how will the alert be raised, how many emergency exits are there, which alternative routes can be used if a route is obstructed, and what measures will be taken to support those with disabilities and mobility issues
• Assigning roles such as Fire Warden, Deputy Fire Warden, and Emergency Team Member, and/or assessing if the members of staff already in those roles are still appropriate for the position
• Deciding how communication will be carried out in the event of an emergency
3. Evaluate Your Fire Safety Technology
To remain compliant with the relevant fire safety legislation, your fire alarm and detection systems must be fit for the structure of your premise and the purpose of your building.
Thankfully, there are many different security systems that businesses can use to meet these requirements; for example, you may decide to connect your fire detection and alarm system to an industrial sprinkler that will help to eliminate any fire breakouts which are detected - or alternatively, you may opt for a system that also includes remote signalling to automatically alert the emergency services whenever the sensors identify a fire.
Be sure too to keep your fire safety systems up-to-date and fault-free in order to ensure they are ready for action if an emergency situation develops.
4. Inspect Your Fire Doors
Fire doors play an essential role in slowing the spread of fire; this in turn helps to reduce damage to your building and can save lives by limiting a fire outbreak.
Depending on the fire door rating, they will save you between thirty and sixty minutes in the event of a fire, which can be crucial in an emergency. They also act as an essential escape route, and as such should always be kept clear of clutter and obstructions.
However, fire doors can degrade over time, which means they should be checked every 6 to 12 months and replaced as necessary.
5. Ensure Navigability
Your team should be thoroughly trained in the quickest and safest way out of the building, according to your business’ fire safety protocol.
In addition to this, your escape routes and exit signs should all be clearly marked using a large arrow and accessible text. Your exit signs should also be illuminated so that they are clearly visible during a power outage.
Similarly, you should ensure that your building has working emergency lighting so that people can easily navigate the property in the event of a power cut.
6. Mains Test According To The BS9990 Standard
All wet and dry rising fire mains and fire hydrants must be regularly maintained and tested under the BS9990 British Standard.
Without regular maintenance and testing, you may remain unaware of any issues or safety hazards, and this can lead to serious consequences in the event of a fire outbreak.
Want to ensure your business is safe, secure, and protected against threats? Get in touch!