If you are an employer accountable for the wellbeing of your team on-site, fire safety is one of the most important topics you should be aware of.
Fire safety helps to prevent loss of life, injury, and property damage, while also protecting overall health.
Knowing that you are safe on-site — whether as an employer, employee, or visitor — helps to give peace of mind, reduce concerns, and lessen distractions, thereby increasing productivity and focus.
It is essential that you are fully aware of the particular legal obligations that apply to your industry, country, and type of building. This can sometimes be achieved with extensive research online, but it will be made less complex and time-consuming by hiring a qualified expert instead.
The following overview is a good starting point for understanding your fire safety responsibilities in the workplace.
Workplace Fire Risk Assessment
Some locations will already have a Workplace Fire Risk Assessment in place. These documents will help you to identify potential fire hazards and risks on your premises, which can include areas of concern, or specific pieces of equipment.
You will then be in a position to decide (or be advised) on whether these matters need careful control and management, removal from the site, or just regular maintenance.
Your fire risk assessment should be regularly carried out and updated often. Plus, you should make sure that you are in full compliance with the relevant regulations that apply to your industry.
Trained or qualified fire wardens can be appointed to oversee the main aspects of fire safety in the workplace.
This can include checking equipment, ensuring that escape routes are clear, and assisting in the event of an evacuation. Fire wardens may also provide a form of ‘checkpoint’ or point of contact in the event of an emergency.
Check whether you already have a fire warden appointed for your premises, and take steps to train and appoint fire wardens yourself if you find that the existing warden setup does not offer sufficient protection.
Also, while fire wardens are a helpful focal point for fire safety, it is important to mention that all personnel should have a functional awareness of their fire safety practices and responsibilities. Therefore, ensure that you and your staff all have a solid understanding of fire safety and prevention procedures, as well as detailed knowledge of the protocols to follow in an emergency.
Workplace Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan (FEEP)
Perhaps one of the most essential steps when configuring fire safety procedures for a premises is having a safe and suitable evacuation plan. The route for the evacuation must remain clear and unobstructed at all times, and alternative exit routes must be identified in case any obstacles develop.
Also, it is imperative to identify any vulnerable persons on-site who may need additional assistance to evacuate in the event of a fire – as can be the case with wheelchair users, for example.
Be aware too that evacuation routes may need to be specifically created to bypass lifts, escalators, and other electrical equipment, so be sure to consult a qualified professional and any relevant regulatory bodies.
The route and evacuation times should then be regularly tested, with a roll call of all those present taking place afterwards.
Fire Extinguishers, Fire Alarms, And Fire Doors
Ensure that you have installed the best and most appropriate fire safety features that you can afford.
These features might include fire extinguishers (which should be regularly charged and checked), fire doors that can prevent the spread of a blaze, and fire alarms that are sensitive and effective.
Some fire alarms can also be connected to the relevant authorities, alerting them of a problem if not turned off within a certain length of time. This can save precious minutes in the event of a fire, so that you can focus on evacuating the premises safely, knowing that the emergency services are on their way.
To ensure proper installation of fire alarms, seek experienced and reliable firms who can advise you on the best solution for your requirements.
It is important not to overlook CCTV as a powerful potential tool in workplace fire safety.
CCTV can not only help you identify a fire before it has the chance to spread, but it can also show the locations of personnel who may be unaware, ill, or injured. These individuals can then be found and assisted quickly.
Electrical Hazards & Smoking
Workplaces should undertake regular checks and maintenance of all electrical equipment, and switch them off overnight or between uses whenever possible. Additionally, you should ensure there is no unauthorised smoking on the premises.
To have an effective fire safety setup in your workplace, ensure that protocols are regularly reviewed, tested, and optimised, and instal vital features such as fire alarms, fire extinguishers, CCTV systems, and more!