How to Observe Fire Safety Whilst Being Socially Distant

With so many businesses having returned to work since the lockdown restrictions eased, safety is at the forefront of all employers’ minds.  Because social distancing measures need to be adhered to, other health and safety measures need to be adapted in order to ensure that every person stays safe in the event of an emergency. Fire safety protocols must still be observed, and with some careful planning, need not be compromised.

Here are some guidelines on how to conduct and adapt Fire Safety procedures with social distancing in mind.

Now we’re back to work…

Business Managers and Owners will have assessed the safe return of employees and may just be operating with a skeleton staff or staggered work pattern.  Many have had to reduce the number of staff on the premises at any one time so that social distancing can be enforced.

Just because employee numbers may be down, the fire risks are still the same.  Therefore, if you are an employer, owner, landlord, occupier, or anyone else with control of the premises, this makes you the ‘responsible person’. If there’s more than one of you, you must work together to meet your responsibilities.

If your staff have been away for a while, they may wish to take a short refresher course in fire safety, whilst new staff members will need to undergo a fire safety induction.  It is important to keep all staff informed of any change in your fire safety arrangements, whether they are working on site or at home.

Fire drills in a socially distant workplace

Fire drills remain vitally important in the workplace.  If there have been changes made (either with new or different staff members, or with the fabric of the surroundings) in your workplace, then it is good practice to review your arrangements.  Are all fire exits still accessible? Are fire extinguishers still in date? Has there been a change in use in any of the rooms on the premises?

Your fire safety point might be in a small location, so new arrangements may need to be made to find a safe space with a larger capacity to ensure social distancing rules can be met.

So called ‘desktop drills’ are becoming more common, where an overview of evacuation procedures are provided to designated fire officers or the ‘responsible person’.  This, however may not account for the questions raised above, and cannot in all fairness be a good substitute for a physical fire drill.

Carrying out the drill

Before embarking on your drill, you should thoroughly review your current arrangements, based on the provision that your assembly point can accommodate the amount of people you have, at a social distance.  If it cannot, then it might be more sensible to create different, smaller zones, where lower numbers of people can congregate more safely.

Assign every employee to one of these new zones (taking into account those who might have mobility issues or disabilities), with a register for each.

Ensure that employees are instructed to leave the building in a calm but rapid fashion, observing social distancing rules as they go.

Do make sure that re-entry to the building is carried out in a sensible and safe way with each zone entering in turn to avoid ‘bottlenecking’ and crowding at the doors.

In the meantime…

Emergency services should only ever be called in the event of a real fire.  False alarms put undue pressure on the service as well as putting the health and safety of its operatives at risk unnecessarily.

Small fires can usually be tackled by a responsible person with an understanding of the fire extinguishers within your building.  Training in how to use fire extinguishers is a service that we provide here at Swift Fire & Safety, as well as offering fire risk assessments and other advice about general fire safety.

All You Need to Know About Fire Safety Equipment

There are regulations surrounding the use and maintenance of Fire Safety equipment for non-domestic premises in England and Wales.  These are detailed in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which offers guidance for fire and rescue authorities and other bodies, about their duty to enforce fire safety in non-domestic premises.

 

Fire Safety Equipment

There is a hope that fire safety equipment never has to be used, but it is vitally important that it will function properly if the worst were to happen.

The term Fire Safety Equipment covers many aspects that contribute to fire prevention.  The tools, devices and elements of equipment include

Not every item listed above is compulsory, but the size and type of your building will determine exactly which of these is needed.

 

Fire Safety Equipment Maintenance

All Fire Safety Equipment on your premises should be maintained and serviced regularly.  It is imperitive to have these checks carried out to not only meet legislation, but to protect every person in your premises.

Failing to keep up with maintenance and servicing of your equipment could be costly in the long run. If equipment fails through neglect, the repurcussions could be huge.

Electing a responsible person to take on the responsibility of Fire Safety is recommended; this person would oversee the organisation of all necessary maintenance and tests to ensure all equipment meets the required standards. This information should then be entered into a Fire Safety Logbook.

 

Fire Extinguisher Maintenance

In the case of fire extinguishers, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires them to be present in all commercial premises, and to be serviced annually. We offer this service here at Swift Fire & Safety.

In order to ensure that extinguishers are in good working order, they should be checked by a competent person, ideally a certified expert.  Serveral checks need to be made including making sure that:

  • The extinguisher is in date
  • The extinguisher hasn’t been interfered or tampered with
  • The weight and pressure are correct
  • The instructions are clearly visible
  • The pin and hose are in tact
  • The extinguisher is in visibly good condition

Your certified expert will inform you of any action if it is needed and will advise you if and when old extinguishers need to be replaced.  The visit should be recorded in the Fire Safety Logbook.  You will be issued with a service label to prove the service has been carried out, which is important for Fire Safety Inspections.

Knowing how to use extinguishers effectively and safely can save lives and reduce damage should a fire start. Be sure you are compliant with Health and Safety Regulations and fully prepared for the unthinkable.

 

Fire Safety Policy

According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005, every business must have a Fire Safety Policy. It should explain the general safety policy in place, the duties of the elected responsible person, any training information, equipment and testing and any events relating to fire safety.

This demonstrates commitment to Fire Safety and prevention.

 

Swift Fire & Safety offers a variety of fire prevention and protection services throughout Peterborough and Cambridge to keep your business up to standard. If you’d like more information you can call us on 01733 602955, email info@fireandsafety.com or click here.

 

The Importance of Fire Safety & Training

When we think about fire, catastrophic scenes can spring to mind.  But when you consider that it was man’s first form of heating and cooking, we realise that it has played an integral part in developing the human species.

It is only when fire is not managed carefully that it becomes hazardous.  Flames and smoke can spread quickly causing untold damage to people, animals, property, and the environment.

Whether a fire is started intentionally or by accident, the heat and poor visibility caused by smoke can make it very difficult to deal with effectively. And sadly, in some cases even more difficult to escape safely.

Know the Risks

Fires can start in a variety of ways, either by accident, human error, or with intent to cause harm. Faulty electrics, kitchen mishaps, overloaded plug sockets, discarded cigarettes and storage issues with combustible materials can all be to blame for fires.  If these risks are identified and dealt with accordingly then the likelihood of fire breaking out is much reduced.

PAT testing of electrical equipment should be routinely carried out, and appropriate measures taken to ensure the safety of people inside the building.

Prevention

Minimising the risk of fire is important; take the risks seriously and put measures in place to counter them.  Installing fire alarms, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers together with a comprehensive fire safety plan will minimise the risk of fire taking hold, should it break out.

As fire safety awareness has grown, there has been an overall decrease in fires over the last decade or so.  Fire brigades are focussing more resources on fire prevention and advice on fitting smoke detectors and fire alarms. Fire Safety companies are also now serving the domestic sector as well as the commercial.

Installation of Fire Safety Equipment

No environment or area is immune from the risk of fire. Therefore, installation of early warning systems will maximise the chances of a safe escape. Alarms will sound loudly to warn people that fire or smoke has been detected.  Action can then be taken immediately to evacuate the building as safely as possible, and emergency services called.

Make an Action Plan

Compile a plan including safety routes out of the building, and the fire assembly point. Decide who should be responsible for the use of fire extinguishers if they are needed.  Whether you are at home or at work, share this information, and practice a drill; what could take minutes to practice could ultimately save lives.

If you employ 5 or more staff, you have a legal obligation to carry out a Fire Safety Risk Assessment.  Swift Fire & Safety have assessors qualified to do this; we will ensure your building meets the required standards, ensuring peace of mind.

Training

Knowing how to respond in the event of a fire is a valuable skill.  The actions of one person can have an impact on everyone around them and training will ensure that everybody knows what to do in an emergency situation.

Training should be continuous in order to stay up to date.  If your workplace has new staff, they will need to be trained, and refresher courses will be needed if your company moves premises.  Any change that affects the fire safety risk in your building will need to be addressed and appropriate training given.

Your duty of care is to the people within your building and by providing adequate training it ensures that everybody knows safety procedures, which will reduce the risk of injury, and even death, during a fire.  Your business will be protected, and a small fire could be contained, preventing it from becoming a huge blaze.

Fire and smoke damage can have huge financial consequences for any business. Can you afford to take any chances?

 

You can find more information about our fire alarm installation service here.

Top Causes of Fire in the Workplace

Fire isn’t necessarily the most common of accidents within the workplace, but if it happens, it can be deadly.  The devastation caused by flames ripping through your building can destroy years of work in only minutes.  The consequences of fires can be expensive for your company – the interruption to business with your premises potentially being uninhabitable, the cost of replacing stock and assets, not to mention the loss of valuable client records and information.

We have identified the most common causes of fire in the workplace, and what you can do to help prevent them.

Faulty electrics and electrical equipment

Loose wires, faulty connections, and overloaded plug sockets and extension leads can all result in electrical fires.  This type of fire is not just limited to office space; it can take hold in any work environment such as shops, warehouses, and workshops.  Because most businesses are reliant on even the smallest form of technology, there will always be the risk of unmaintained equipment becoming dangerous.

Business owners are legally required to take care of electrical equipment and regular PAT testing (portable appliance testing).  PAT testing is generally carried out between 12, 24 and 48 months depending on the type of equipment.  Because of the nature of electrical fires, these cannot be put out with water which makes them all the more hazardous.

It is imperative that you have the correct fire extinguishers installed by experts who will train you in their use.

Lack of training within your team

We all know that accidents happen through nobody’s fault. Equipment can burn out that is relatively new or in previously good working order.  Would you and your staff know how to deal with a fire at a moment’s notice? Or indeed, whether it could have been preventable in the first place.

If a fire should break out, it is essential that all staff are aware of the correct procedures.  As an employer it is your duty of care, and a legal requirement that your employees know the evacuation process.  Failure to comply could leave you with a lawsuit for negligence if the worst should happen.  You should appoint a fire safety monitor who will be responsible for taking any required remedial action (eg. the use of fire extinguishers) before the need for calling the emergency services.

Lack of Fire prevention equipment

The most basic of fire prevention equipment is the humble smoke detector.  It is, in most circumstances illegal to operate in a business premises without them. Maintenance and testing are essential to ensure they are in good working order at all times.

It is also a legal requirement in accordance with the Fire Safety Order to install the correct types of fire extinguisher suited to your business.  You may not be able to procure business insurance, or your current policy could be invalid without having a fire risk assessment carried out. Your assessor will advise you about the installation of fire extinguishers in appropriate areas of your building.  Your local Fire Safety company will be able to take care of this for you, one of the services which Swift Fire & Safety offer.

Incorrect storage of combustible materials

Failure to correctly store combustible and flammable materials is a huge contributor in the incidence of fires that could have been avoided.  For example, businesses that rely on power tools that could throw out sparks (welding or grinding equipment) should never have flammable materials close to the working areas.  The same can be said of chemicals which should never be near naked flames.

By ensuring that all materials are stored efficiently, the risk of fire is greatly reduced.  If your business holds large quantities of stock, such as paper products for example, it is essential that procedures are met, and that stock is stored immediately after delivery.

Negligence and/or human error

There are a number of scenarios whereby fire is caused by either negligence or human error.  Carelessly discarded items left close to heat sources, unattended food left to burn in the staff room or kitchen, cooling and fan vents on technical equipment blocked by office paraphernalia, using equipment incorrectly – the list is endless!  Every person in your employ should be responsible for their own health and safety and should be accountable for their actions, whether they are accidental or negligent.

Fire safety and Health and Safety courses are available and should be completed by your staff.  Your local fire safely officer will be able to help you find the appropriate course for your business which can often be completed online.

Arson

Sadly, arson is not as rare as we would like to believe.  Statistics suggest that over 45% of serious fires in the UK are caused by arson. Large industrial buildings and commercial businesses can be a target for vandals and other criminal activity.

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to eliminate the risk of your business being targeted 100%, but there are measures that can be taken to make it less attractive to the criminal fraternity.  Identify where your building may be vulnerable and install a visible alarm system and CCTV.  These security systems are a considerable deterrent to would be criminals.

If you are concerned that these systems will not be enough of a deterrent, then an added layer of security could come in the form of an interior sprinkler system. Once activated, sprinklers greatly reduce the amount of damage caused if fire were to break out either by accident or criminal activity.

 

You can find out more about our Fire Extinguisher Installation and Maintenance services here.

How Training with Tavcom Created New Commercial Opportunities for Swift Fire & Safety

Here at Swift Fire & Safety, we have always relied on our reputation for quality service, resulting in a growing number of enquiries within the security related sector, and more notably intruder alarm systems.

Whilst this has presented an opportunity for us to accelerate our expansion, some of our team members didn’t possess the recognised qualifications for alarm systems that matched their fire credentials. Our Founder and Director, Daniel Youngs says: “It is a matter of pride and commitment to our customers, that we adhere to the highest standards for every service we provide. So, if we were to meet this customer demand, we needed to find the very best training provider for our team.”

On recommendation from several trusted advisors, Daniel approached Tavcom Training who are industry leaders in providing practical training courses to those ‘on the tools’, particularly in management, installation and design of security systems.

During an intensive five day course specialising in Practical Intruder Alarm Installation at Tavcom’s state of the art training centre, Daniel was awarded a BTEC Level 3 Certificate, giving him a skilled qualification in design, plan, installation, repair and maintenance of intruder alarm systems.

Daniel has more than 15 years’ experience and expertise within the fire sector and has undertaken a great deal of training.  He says: “I have participated in many courses but Tavcom sets the standard. It represents good value for money, ticked all of my boxes and filled the knowledge gaps I was missing.” He adds: “It has given us the confidence and credibility to respond positively to the requests regarding intruder alarms that we receive and already we have customers that are benefiting from our practical application of Tavcom’s teachings.”

Swift Fire & Safety are committed to providing a quality service and we credit our investment in training as one of the reasons for our excellent reputation. Daniel says of Tavcom: “It is our intention to take further advantage of all Tavcom has to offer, continuously improving our skills.” He concludes: “Training ensures we maintain the highest possible standards for our customers and at the same time opens doors to new opportunities to grow the business.”

 

You can find information about all of Swift Fire & Safety’s services here.

Photo credit: Tavcom Training

What Are The Best Deterrents To Burglars?

If you have been the victim of a break in or burglary, you may be curious to know why you had been targeted.  What was it about your property that attracted the burglar?  After all, most thieves are opportunistic, so it may have been a spur of the moment break in.  Shockingly, research has revealed that almost a third of us have no security measures in place, so the most probable answer is that your security was either non-existent or simply wasn’t tight enough. There are in all likelihood a whole host of extra measures that could have been taken to send thieves running in the other direction.

If you are lucky enough not to have been the victim of a theft crime, but are still looking for ways to make your property more secure, there are several ways of doing so.  And what better way to know what deters potential burglars than to get inside the mind of one?  The Co-op conducted a survey of 12 former criminals to find out what makes them select a particular property when they’re looking for targets, and what would deter them from breaking in.

One of the top considerations on their list of deterrents were smart homes.  Technology is evolving at quite a rate, and is becoming more and more affordable as the market grows.  Most home owners could have a basic smart device installed at very little cost.  When you consider the inevitable hike in your insurance premiums in the event of a break in and a subsequent insurance claim, the cost is easily absorbed!  The Co-op found that 89% of ex criminals surveyed said that they would be deterred from targeting a home with smart technology.

There are several other factors that would deter opportunist thieves when selecting their next mark.

Here are our top 5 tips:

  1. Smile, you’re on camera!

CCTV cameras are pivotal in the fight against crime.  We see them literally everywhere on our streets, and the police rely on them daily to identify crime and its perpetrators. Amazingly though, only 14% of UK residents have them installed in their homes.  Perhaps the biggest deterrent for thieves, burglars and other criminals, why do more of us not look to CCTV to protect our homes?  Comparatively it’s more costly than other forms of home security, but it does add a means of identifying criminals, and provides evidence against any that are apprehended later.

  1. Light up!

Security lighting is an effective measure when it comes to protecting your home, particularly if the street lighting around your property is poor.  Very few burglars work in broad daylight, so make the night time hours as bright as possible, as they don’t want to be seen!  Whether you decide on lights timed to come on during certain hours of the night, or motion activated ones, they are all a deterrent.  If you’re going out, leave some lights on inside, and a TV or radio – the more occupied your home looks the better.

  1. Shut up!

How many of us don’t lock ourselves in when we’re at home?  Some burglaries happen when the property is occupied with thieves having gained entry through an unlocked door.  People who are particularly vulnerable should be extra cautious, especially if they are living alone.  Get into the habit of locking your doors when you come in as well as when you go out.

When we go to bed many of us sleep with the windows open?  It’s good to have well ventilated rooms, but it’s easy to forget to secure them the next day when we’re in a rush to get out to work.  Open windows are an invitation to would-be burglars.

Whenever possible have a car parked on the drive, and better still, install lockable gates at the entrance of your driveway.

  1. Be an attention seeker!

Criminals who are debating whether to burgle your house or not will not want to attract any unwanted attention.  If you have dogs, your furry friends could be the deal breaker!  Most thieves will not enter a property where there are barking dogs.  If you don’t have any pets, you can get motion sensors that play a recording of barking dogs. Coupled with ‘beware of the dogs’ signs, it might be enough to prevent a break in.

Burglar alarms have a dual purpose; the sight of the box situated on the house is usually enough to discourage a burglar, but in the event they gain entry anyway, the noise of the alarm will soon attract the attention of neighbours and passers-by.  Some more sophisticated alarm systems can combine smoke detectors and CCTV, giving you an all-in-one security system.

  1. Don’t be a virtual attention seeker!

It’s the age of sharing.  With almost infinite social media platforms to choose from, it’s easy for us to share everything that’s going on in our lives.  But do we really need to let everyone know what we’ve had for dinner, or the latest item of clothing we’ve bought, or that we’re jetting off to sunnier climes?  Holiday details shared online is like advertising the fact that your home is empty.

What are Fire Extinguisher Ratings and Their Meanings?

Fire extinguishers come with different ratings dependent on the classification of fire they’re equipped for.  The rating of fire extinguishers is designed to help us understand the type and size of the fire in which the extinguisher should be used.

Classifications of fire vary and depend on the source of the outbreak or accelerant. They are:

  • Class A – ordinary combustibles such as wood, textiles and paper.
  • Class B – flammable liquid fires such as grease, oil, gasoline and solvents.
  • Class C – electrically energised fires such as computers and other electrical equipment.
  • Class D – flammable metal fires such as lithium and titanium.
  • Class K – kitchen fires caused in particular by fats and grease.

Class A and B extinguishers include a number with the rating; for class A the rating indicates how many gallons of water the extinguisher is equivalent to. For example 1A equals 1.25 gallons of water, therefore 5A would be equivalent to using 6.25 gallons of water to fight a fire.

A class B fire extinguisher takes into account the square footage of area a fire could consume as opposed to the water needed to put it out.  For example an extinguisher carrying the rating of 1B is capable of putting out a fire in a 1 square foot area. A 30B rating allows the user to extinguish a Class B fire in a 30 square foot area.

Knowing and understanding the rating behind fire extinguishers is vitally important in the event of a fire, although the most common extinguisher is the ABC.  This does have varying ratings dependent on its size, but can be used for A, B or C class fires, which would cover most eventualities within the home or office.

However, for larger premises you may need the help of an expert to determine exactly which kind of extinguishers you need.  Purchase advice, placement and maintenance of equipment is all part of the service that Swift Fire & Safety offer.

If you are need any advice on fire safety and extinguishers you can get in touch with us here.

Emergency Lighting – Why & When?

Emergency lighting is essentially back up lighting for an emergency situation when the main power supply is interrupted. In our blog we outline the importance of emergency lighting…

Why is Emergency Lighting Required?

If lighting is necessary to ensure that people can carry out their daily activities, then emergency lighting is required in the event of a power outage. It is a legal requirement that non-domestic properties must be safe at all times. A power cut in your building could be as a result of a fire or power outage and as a result the normal lighting will fail to operate, potentially making the property unsafe and potentially dangerous. A consideration must be made for the tasks that are carried out in your buildings, factories, warehouse, offices and dental surgery even operating theatres. Special arrangements are made for high risk tasks.

The purpose of the emergency lighting systems is to enable people to escape to a place of safety in the event of an emergency situation, this is  generally called escape route lighting. Fire Fighting equipment also requires to be covered by emergency lighting to enable safe and correct use in the event of an emergency situation.

How often do you need to test Emergency Lighting?

There is only one type of system that requires daily inspection – that is a central battery system.

In this case, there is a requirement to carry out a daily inspection of the central battery power supply to confirm the system is operating correctly. The daily inspection is not required for standard self-contained back up lights.

All other emergency lighting systems are to be functional tested each month, the test often referred to as a ‘flick’ test is carried out by momentarily removing the power to each fitting via the test switch to ensure that it works in the event of a mains failure. All lights do not need to be tested at once, providing all lights are testing monthly this can be spread across different days and weeks. When removing the power via the test switch the small LED light will no longer be present and at least one lamp in the light fitting will remain operational. When the test is complete introduce the power and the light will resume normal operation and the small LED light will be present. It is important to record the test in you log book.

An annual duration test of your emergency lights is required to be completed by a competent service and maintenance company, the test should be carried out for the duration that the lights are designed to. The test is to confirm that the light is able and capable of withstanding an emergency situation in a controlled way, ensuring your lights are in optimal condition at all times. The test is also to confirm the you have the correct number of lights in the correct locations. Light defusers and tubes are inspected and cleaned to maximise the effectiveness of your emergency lights.

Swift Fire & Safety ensure that our customers’ emergency lighting is maintained to a high standard, communicating and correcting any deficiencies found keeping your staff or the public safe at all times.

For more information on our emergency lighting services, please contact us on 01733 602955 or simply complete the contact us form and one of the team will be in touch to discuss your requirements.

Swift Fire & Safety are an industry leading Fire Protection company, based in Peterborough. We offer a wide range of services covering a wide geographical area. Our team a dedicated, highly skilled and experienced in the design, installation and service and maintenance of Fire and Security systems. We offer exceptional service at competitive rates without compromising the quality.

Time and Money Saved

Here at Swift we are dedicated to going the extra mile. Everyone hears it all the time, but do they do it? We do… when a valued customer asks for help, you can be sure we will go the extra mile.

Recently a customer was trying to programme additional access control fobs for an influx of new starters. They were having issues as the person who knew was away on annual leave.

Often, this would require a costly call out or a timely training session…. not for Swift’s customers!

The customer called the office and one of our resourceful office staff was able to talk them through the procedure over the telephone and a step by step guide was provided. By the end of the call our customer was confident of the process of adding new fobs to the correct access groups. Not only did we save the customer time, we also saved the customer a call out.

  • No call out fee
  • No waiting for a call back
  • No inconvenience
  • No embarrassment
  • Knowledge shared

Another happy customer!