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.