As a business owner, you will be highly aware of the importance of protecting your property, not only keeping the building and its contents secure, but also creating an environment that your staff and clients can feel completely safe within. Whilst burglary, vandalism and fraud are all possible threats, a fire can be completely devastating, destroying not just your entire property but also putting the lives of your clients and employees at risk.
In this blog, we aim to help you understand exactly how to make sure your facility is as protected as possible should a fire start, as well as ensuring anyone within the building is safe.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was introduced to help non-domestic premises keep their property protected against fire. This legislation requires that every facility appoints a ‘responsible person’. This responsible person, unless they have been specifically appointed, is generally, ‘in relation to a workplace, the employer, if the workplace is to any extent under his control’.
This individual must undertake ‘general fire precautions’. Whilst this seems broad, it essentially means that they are the overseer of all things fire safety related, including carrying out regular fire risk assessments as well as ensuring there are safe escape routes within the facility.
Here is what you need to know:
Responsibility for fire safety in a business lies with the following people, known as the ‘responsible person’:
- The owner
- The landlord
- An Employer
- An Occupier
- Anyone else with control of the premises e.g. a facilities manager
If there is more than one responsible person then you must work together to ensure that you all meet your fire safety responsibilities.
What Are Your Responsibilities?
If you have been designated a ‘responsible person’ you must ensure that you:
- Carry out first risk assessments of the facility regularly
- Inform staff of any of the risks that you have identified
- Put in place appropriate fire safety measures (e.g. fire alarms, evacuation meeting points)
- Have a detailed plan if a fire should occur in the premises
- Provide all members of staff with fire safety training and instructions
How Do You Carry Out a Fire Risk Assessment?
To carry out a fully comprehensive risk assessment you must:
- Identify the fire hazards
- Identify people at risk
- Assess, remove or minimise any risks you have identified
- Record your findings
- Prepare an emergency plan
- Provide suitable training for all staff
- Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly
Different premises require different risk assessments (these individual risk assessment guides can be found on gov.uk). However, there are specific areas that all businesses should ensure they take into account, including:
- Emergency routes and exits
- Emergency fire evacuation plan
- Firefighting equipment (such as fire extinguishers)
- Removal and storage of dangerous substances
- Staff fire safety training
However, don’t worry if this all sounds a bit overwhelming, there is help available, either in the form of risk assessment guides, or by appointing a specific, competent person to oversee your assessment, such as a professional risk assessor.
What Should Your Fire Safety and Evacuation Plans Include?
Your plan must show how you have:
- Enough exits and routes for a safe escape
- A clear passage way to all exit routes (e.g no items should be left in front of your fire exit)
- Easy to open emergency doors
- Emergency lighting (if needed)
- A safe meeting point for staff
- Clearly marked escape routes
It may seem obvious, but your facility must have fire safety equipment installed throughout the property. These precautions can include; fire alarms, fire doors, fire extinguishers and emergency lighting. Equipment should then be inspected and maintained regularly to make sure it is working correctly. In fact, in order to ensure that none of your fire safety equipment is overlooked, maintenance of these items should form part of your facility’s planned maintenance schedule, meaning that you can be safe in the knowledge that everything is in working order.
Whilst we don’t like to think about it, if a fire does start in your facility, the only way to ensure your staff are safe is to have a carefully planned and rehearsed evacuation plan in place. This evacuation plan should be known by each and every employee and include which exits should be used to leave the building safely. Fire drills must be carried out regularly so if the fire alarm rings, the entire building is well-versed in how to leave the facility calmly, quickly and safely.
Comply with Legislation
One sure fire way to ensure your business is fire safe is to comply with all UK legislation (The
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005). Whilst these laws can seem onerous and unnecessarily complex, they have been written with you and your facility’s safety in mind, so it makes sense to follow them. Also, non-compliance not only leaves you and your business vulnerable to the devastating effects a fire can have but can also lead to huge fines and even prison sentences.
Whilst we all hope that our business will never have to deal with the trauma a fire can inflict, ensuring that your facility and staff members are as protected as possible is vital. Properly implemented fire safety measures means that if a fire should begin within your building, not only will the occupants be safely evacuated but the damage a fire can cause will be kept to a minimum.
Contact MSL on 0333 1234 450 to arrange an assessment of your business’ fire safety equipment.