Commercial Fire Safety During the Coronavirus Pandemic
With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, companies are increasingly concerned about the welfare of their employees and controlling the spread of the virus. However, although this is top priority for most businesses at the moment, you shouldn’t forget about your Fire and Security systems in place and how they could aid you in mitigating further risks in the workplace.
We understand that working conditions are currently different to usual procedure for a lot of businesses, such as employees working from home. Although this is the case, you are still liable for the fire safety of your site. Fire is one of the most disruptive and destructive causes of damage to a business and so it is extremely important that you update and maintain your system in line with government legislation and standards to ensure you are covered by your insurance provider should an unexpected event occur.
You can be responsible for fire safety if you have control over part or all of a commercial premises and there are a number of things you must do to maximise the safety for all of your employees and visitors:
- Fire Risk Assessment
- Fire Safety Training
- Maintenance & Testing
Fire Risk Assessments
What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
All business premises must have a Fire Risk Assessment by law, yet not everyone understands the importance of this fire safety measure. Unfortunately, Fire Risk Assessments are often overlooked, which can lead to businesses being exposed to a fire risk.
Fire regulations state that a Fire Risk Assessment must be conducted by a competent person and in January this year, the new competence register was introduced; Tiered Fire Risk Assessors Register (TFRAR). You are entitled to conduct the assessment yourself, however, if it is completed by an untrained person, it may not meet the legal requirements. As well as this, they are extremely time consuming and so our Fire Risk Assessors may be the solution for you. All of our assessors are fully qualified by the British Safety Council and so we can assure you that that our procedures are fully compliant.
Fire Risk Assessments should identify all of the fire hazards within the premises, identify who is at risk and how these can be reduced or eliminated. This is achieved through incorporating emergency routes and exits, fire detection and warning systems and firefighting equipment. From this, all findings are then recorded and should be reviewed regularly.
Your Fire Risk Assessment will need to be reviewed if you encounter any of the following changes at your premises otherwise it could be invalid:
- Work activities change
- Alterations to the internal layout or building
- Furniture and fixings are altered
- Introduction or change of use of hazardous substances
- Failure of fire precautions
- Significant increase of people present
- Presence of people with a disability
Fire Safety Training
Once your Fire Risk Assessment has been conducted, this will determine the level of Fire Safety training that your staff will need. You need to train all new members of staff about the fire risks and if there are any new risks, you must make all employees aware.
Training can come in a number of forms including booklets, videos or tailored Fire Safety courses dependent on the recommendation. These can include general awareness, refresher training or extra training for when risks increase or to keep your designated Fire Safety staff up to date.
Maintenance and Testing
You must make sure that you test and maintain all your fire safety equipment by conducting regular checks. Your inspections should include testing the following:
Fire Alarm System: The British Standards Institution recommends that a fire alarm system should be inspected every six months by a competent person.
Emergency Lighting: Emergency lighting systems should be checked on a monthly basis in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004 / BS 5266-8:2004.
Escape Routes: All escape routes should be clear, and the floor should be in good condition. All fire exit signs should be in the right place and escape routes should be able to be opened easily.
Fire Doors: All automatic fire doors should close correctly.
You should record any faults in your system and equipment. A fire drill should also be conducted at least once per year and the results recorded. Your results should then be kept as part of your fire safety and evacuation plan.
Fire Safety Warnings and Penalties
If your fire safety system doesn’t comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, there are several warnings and penalties you could find your company faced with. Depending on the severity of your inadequate safety measures, you could find that your business receives an:
Alterations Notice: This is received if you have high safety risks at current or will have high safety risks if the premises use changes.
Enforcement Notice: This is received if there’s a serious risk which isn’t being managed and includes what improvements are needed within a specific time frame.
Prohibition Notice: This is received when the fire risk is so great that the premises needs to be prohibited or restricted. This penalty takes effect immediately.
As well as receiving these warnings, by not complying with the fire safety regulations, you could find that you are prosecuted through been given a fine or in severe cases, sent to prison.
By using CLiCK 24 for all of your fire safety solutions, we make sure that you fully understand the rules and that your business complies with the regulations in place. Our team work in collaboration with all of our clients which ensures that we install the correct system for the sites risks and use.