Getting fire safety wrong in your organisation could be the difference between staff leaving the building safely in the event of a fire or being injured due to key fire safety measures not being implemented. Use our 17 fire safety tips as a guide to demonstrate that you have considered key aspects of fire safety within your premises. They are not ranked in terms of priority but all are equally important to demonstrate compliance. Look out for a free download at the end to supplement these tips.
|Appoint competent staff and/or contractors to assist in complying with certain requirements of the fire safety order. Managers, staff or contractors can maintain and routinely test the following:|
Remember to keep records of everything that is done.
|Make sure that a competent person carries out your fire risk assessment and that it’s written down if your organisation has five or more employees. The fire risk assessment does not have to be done by an external contractor, however, whoever carries out the assessment needs to have sufficient, training, experience and knowledge to allow them to be considered competent.|
|If you are a tenant in a multi-occupancy building where possible, co-operate with other organisations in the building.|
|Develop a fire safety policy and arrangements with clearly allocated responsibilities and emergency procedures. These arrangements should be proportionate to the size and complexity of your organisation. Write down the arrangements if you have five or more employees. This document should explain when and how your building should be evacuated.|
Note: although the law indicates the arrangements should be written down with 5 or more employees, it’s difficult to demonstrate your arrangements if it’s not written down. Our advice is to write everything down.
|Make sure that there are specific arrangements for the evacuation of disabled persons. This will require the creation of a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP). Don’t wait until you are notified of a disabled person and then seek to put arrangements in place. It’s always preferable to plan ahead and have the arrangements in place and staff informed.|
|Make sure that your management system provides for the regular reviewing of your fire risk assessment and the fire safety arrangements. Whatever process you have in place make sure that you follow it.|
|Provide staff with fire safety awareness training which should include specific information related to your premises and evacuation arrangements. Ensure that visitors and contractors are also provided with appropriate information.|
|Provide fire safety training for those who have key roles, including fire marshals/wardens. Ensure that the records of the training are easily retrievable in case they are requested if you have a visit from a fire inspector.|
|Conduct periodic practice fire evacuation drills (six-monthly is usual). If you are a tenant in a multi-occupancy building this is normally the responsibility of the landlord. If this is not happening, discuss with your landlord.|
|Liaising with your local fire service with respect to particular fire hazards that might be contained within your premises, e.g. flammable liquid store, radioactive sources, flammable gasses or explosive materials is a good idea. The more they know in advice about key fire hazards at your premises, the more they will be prepared if there is an incident.|
|Carry out routine inspections/audits and checks of fire safety facilities and arrangements in your premises. Ensure that all relevant records relating to fire safety are up to date and available should a fire inspector make an unannounced visit.|
|Minimise the risk of a fire starting by reducing the amount of fire hazards in the workplace. In particular make sure that flammable liquids and gases are properly handled, used and stored. Remove all unnecessary cardboard and paper waste within office areas promptly.|
|Ensure that you provide a safe means of escape from your building. Check all your means of escape from the building. One blocked escape route could be the difference between getting out of the building safely or someone being trapped and possibly injured.|
|Provide suitable means of fighting a fire in the building. This might be fire extinguishers, fire blankets, etc. Whatever is provided ensure that staff know how to use it. It is a good idea to ensure that at least all your fire marshals/wardens have been trained to use a fire extinguisher. Our fire marshal training course includes an entire module on fire extinguisher training.|
|Ensure that fire safety signs that are in your building are to the correct standard. All safety signs used in the workplace must comply with the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. The signage should correctly identify for example, firefighting equipment, means of escape, fire action notice and the assembly point.|
|Ensure that all fire-related equipment is serviced, tested and maintained as per the manufacturer recommended schedule. If you should have a visit from a fire inspector make sure that your records are up to date, so that you can prove that it has been done.|
|If your fire alarm system is divided into zones, make sure that there’s a zone plan displayed adjacent to the fire alarm panel showing a plan of the building with the different zones labelled clearly.|
Hopefully the 17 tips will prove useful in prioritising key aspects of fire safety in the workplace. If you would like a more structured approach in the form of a template to use, we are providing a copy of our fire audit checklist which you can use to audit your fire safety arrangements. If you would like any help or assistance with any matter relating to health and safety in the workplace, or an editable version of the checklist please get in touch.