Fire safety is of the utmost importance in any building but particularly in the workplace environment when there may be several hundreds of employees for which you are responsible.
The law recognises the importance of fire safety in non-domestic premises. Any employer, landlord or owner who fails to abide by fire safety regulations is at risk of a heavy fine or even imprisonment.
Who is Responsible?
The person responsible for fire safety in the workplace - also known as the designated Fire Safe person - can be the Owner, the Employer, the Landlord, or an Occupier or anyone else with control of the premises. In a large company, for example, the Fire Safe person could be a facilities manager, a building manager, a managing agent or a risk assessor.
In non-domestic shared premises, such as a shopping centre, it is highly likely that there will be more than one person with fire safety responsibilities. Each workplace will need to have their own fire safety procedures, while the owner is ultimately responsible for the entire complex. It is important that there is a recognised procedure for the coordination for each business' fire safety procedures in the event of a fire.
How to Ensure you’re Responsible
Your local fire and rescue authority will visit your workplace at some point and inspect your business to check that you are fully compliant with fire safety regulations.
At a minimum, you will need to:
• Carry out fire risk assessments and reviews regularly. Ensure proper records are made of this.
• Identify and inform staff of any possible fire hazards in a timely manner.
• Put in place and maintain fire safety measures that are suitable for your premises, such as fire extinguishers at the appropriate points and fires safety doors.
• Have an emergency plan; making sure, for example, that everyone is aware of where the emergency exits are and a standard meeting point where you can check that everyone has got out safely.
• Periodically run tests to ensure that all members of staff are fully prepared.
• Give your employees all the training they require so they know exactly what if the worst happens and there is a workplace fire.
Have Safety Measures in Place
One of the first things you will need to do is to identify fire risks in your particular workplace. Common safety measures include keeping flammable substances - wood, paper, chemicals - and sources of ignition - sockets, ovens, burners, cigarette lighters - apart. Make sure electrical plug sockets are not overloaded. Check that all electrical equipment in the office is not faulty or damaged.
Fire Risk Assessments
A fire risk assessment is a crucial part of your overall fire safety plan. It is highly advisable to use the services of a qualified fire risk assessor, such as Contact Fire and Security, to advise you, and ensure that your work-place meets all the necessary requirements. If you already have a fire risk assessment, it may need to be updated.
Devising and implementing a comprehensive emergency response plan is also necessary to protect the safety of your staff and help minimise the financial and operational implications of detrimental events.
Ensure Fire safety in the workplace by supporting your plan by training staff and assigning key roles to reliable team members. Use signage to remind staff of relevant procedures, and to designate emergency exits and assembly points.
Fire Alarm Monitoring
Many people are unsure of the difference between a standard or a monitored fire alarm system. Standard fire alarms are comparatively cheap and simply alert everyone in the building to the fact that a fire has been detected.
A monitored fire alarm system requires a higher initial outlay, but also immediately sends an alert to the emergency services, as well as to individuals who may not be on site at the time the alarm sounds. Although more of an investment, many industry experts believe monitored fire alarm systems are more cost-effective in the long-term with a longer lifespan resulting in lower maintenance costs, together with lower insurance premiums.
In addition to exploring all of the issues discussed above, we advise you to have a thorough on-site consultation with a fire safety expert. You should then follow this up by performing regular fire safety assessments to ensure all relevant equipment is serviceable and up to date as well as undertaking regular fire safety training. Further information can be found on our main fire prevention page or by contacting one of our fire safety experts here.