As any responsible business owner, manager, or site manager knows, putting an effective fire safety plan in place is an essential part of ensuring optimal safety for staff members, customers, and visitors. With that in mind, we've explored some of the major aspects of fire safety which make devising and implementing an effective plan so important, as well as highlighting some key elements which your plan should include.
What should I include in a Fire Safety Plan?
To a large extent, the specifics of a suitable Fire Safety Plan will be determined by the characteristics of the business or organisation in question, the nature of the building in which it is located, the contents of the building (e.g. fixtures and fittings, stock, equipment), and the activities which are conducted at the property. Therefore, you should arrange to have a professional conduct a fire risk assessment– since 2006, it has been a legal requirement for UK businesses to carry out a fire risk assessment. The effects of a fire can be catastrophic, so it is imperative to take every possible step to both prevent fires and to prepare for this type of emergency.
However, in most - if not all - scenarios, it is necessary to make arrangements which take the following into account:
- Fire Evacuation Strategy:
Make all employees and fire wardens/marshals fully aware of the actions they need to take in the event that they discover a fire.
- Alarm Systems:
Put a plan in place addressing how anyone present in the building will be alerted to an ongoing fire. This must include special arrangement to account for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or visually impaired.
- Escape Routes:
Safe and comprehensive exit routes out of the building and escape instructions should be provided. This will utilise detailed, easily understandable explanations delivered both orally during training and induction sessions, via clear signage, and using other visual representations including maps, lighting, and floor marking as appropriate.
Ample signage indicating safe escape routes, assembly points, and other fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and alarm buttons should be installed throughout the premises. Where necessary, signage should be illuminated to ensure optimum visibility.
- Emergency Doors:
All doors which form part of the escape routes must be easy to open using a push bar or other approved mechanism. This should be accompanied by clear operation instructions.
- Fire-Fighting Equipment:
Ample fire extinguishers selected by type according to the requirements of the specific location in which they are located should be provided throughout the building. They should also be easily accessible.
- Fire Alarm Locations:
In order to be able to raise the alarm immediately in the event of a fire, all occupants of the building must be made aware of where every available fire alarm is located.
- Contacting the Fire Brigade or Other Emergency Services:
A plan should be put in place to determine how the fire brigade or other emergency service should be called, and who is responsible for doing so. Advanced fire detection technology can be programmed to notify the emergency services in the event of a fire, and - to an extent - can even slow the progress of a fire if linked to a sprinkler system.
- Emergency Lighting:
To account for power outages, emergency lighting should be installed. This is especially important in areas such as stairwells and windowless corridors, however ideally it will be installed throughout the building.
- A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP):
This term refers to the person-specific plans which must be put in place to address the needs of individuals who are especially vulnerable to fire risks, for example if they have mobility issues or a visual/hearing impairment.
- Assembly Points:
Instructions detailing the locations of assembly points and the circumstances in which these should be used should be given to anyone who is on site. This should be supported by appropriate signage.
- Roll Call Procedures:
A system should be in place to account for all occupants of the building in the event that assembly points are in use.
By implementing all of these arrangements and putting in place a stringent staff training and briefing regime, site managers and other responsible individuals can maximise the extent to which their building can be evacuated safely, swiftly, and efficiently in the event of a fire. Further information is provided by the government here, and we strongly advise anyone involved in the implementation of a fire safety plan to familiarise themselves with it thoroughly before devising their own strategy.
What Types of Fire do I need to be Aware of?
Fire type have been categorised according to the following classifications:
- Class A Fires – caused by flammable solids, e.g. wood, paper, or fabric
- Class B Fires – caused by flammable liquids, e.g. petrol, turpentine, or paint
- Class C Fires – caused by flammable gases, e.g. hydrogen, butane, or methane
- Class D Fires – caused by combustible metals/chemicals e.g. magnesium, aluminium or potassium
- Electrical Fires – fire caused by electrical equipment (classification changes once the electrical item is removed)
- Class F Fires – caused by cooking oils, typically a chip-pan fire.
It is an unfortunate fact that only one in four businesses recover from fire damage, so the full importance of an effective fire safety plan and the potential benefits of an effective fire detection system which protects both staff members and the business itself cannot be overstated.
At Contact Fire and Security we specialise in supplying and installing fire prevention systems in settings of all types, so we're confident that we can identify and implement the most appropriate solution for you. Learn more about our Fire Alarm Systems with our 10 point guide.