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6 Ways to Protect Your Workplace from the Risk of Fire

Fire Detection Systems

Speed is everything when dealing with fire. An effective fire alarm system should be installed in your workplace that automatically detects fire and alerts people, to assist in the quick evacuation of buildings. All employees will need to be trained in how to raise the alarm and what to do if they hear the alarm sound.

Fire alarms should be maintained and tested regularly to ensure they are working properly. There are a wide range of different solutions available to suit different types of workplace, ranging from basic conventional fire detectors to fully programmable alarm systems to offer complete fire protection.

Make Sure You Have the Relevant Fire Protection Equipment

Having fire fighting equipment on site can help should a small fire break out. Fire extinguishers are ideal for getting fire under control in its early stages; however some are more suited to certain types of fires than others. Therefore the most suitable type of fire extinguisher needs to be positioned in the vicinity of a particular threat, for example a wet chemical extinguisher should be installed in a kitchen to combat potential cooking oil fires.

Fire protection equipment extends to more than just extinguishers; there is a variety available to counter different types of fire threats and aid workplace safety including fire blankets, hose reels, emergency lighting, door guards, air horns and push-bars for fire escape doors. All equipment should be properly looked after, especially fire extinguishers, which require special annual maintenance

Install Fire Doors to Slow Fire Down

Fire doors are specially adapted doors that reduce the speed at which the fire spreads, giving you extra time to get out of a burning building. They have a special seal around the door and frame which expands when heated, to fill the gap and stop fire and deadly smoke getting through the door.

To be effective, keep fire doors closed at all times, signage should be used to indicate which doors are fire doors. In some situations where doors need to be left open, there are also automatic closing fire doors that will shut straightaway if the fire alarm system is triggered. They are suitable for offices, hospitals, schools and other buildings that are compartmented.

Plan Safe Escape Routes

Planning a safe escape route beforehand is an essential part of fire safety. A fire escape route should be the quickest way out of the building and must lead to a safe meeting point that everyone in the company is aware of. Ideally you should plan two back up routes in case one is blocked in the event of a fire. All staff should be made aware of the correct way to exit the building if a fire occurs and practice using it during fire drills.

Appropriate signage should be used to mark all escape routes and doors, with push bars installed on fire escape doors to allow for easy exiting of the building. Staff should be vigilant to ensure fire escape routes are kept clear from obstacles at all times, particularly stairways, corridors and fire escape doors.

Use Fire Safety Signage

Signage should be used throughout buildings to highlight fire equipment, escape routes, fire doors, alarms and assembly points. Fire safety information and fire action signs should also be installed in workplaces to provide employees with advice on what to do in the event of a fire.

Special information should be included for lifts advising against their use during a fire. There should also be signage placed around fire equipment such as fire extinguishers and alarms with details on their correct use.

Train your Staff about Fire Safety and Practice Evacuation in Drills

This is probably the most important aspect of fire safety and the best way to protect your business from the threat of fire. Making employees aware of what they should do if they discover a fire and how to raise the alarm is essential. Fire safety training should be given to all staff, especially those involved in situations with potential fire risks. Advice on preventing fires and safety procedures must be given to all new employees when they start and all staff should be made aware of fire escape routes and assembly points.

Fire drills are essential for practicing what to do in if a fire breaks out. In medium to large companies with many employees on site, fire marshals should be appointed to oversee the evacuation of buildings during drills or a real life fire. Special training should be given to fire marshals and all staff should receive basic training on how to use fire extinguishers and other equipment.

Peace of mind

Although no workplace can be 100% protected from the threat of fire, if you take the steps that we’ve mentioned above you can be sure that if the worst happens and fire does occur in your workplace, your business and employees will be best prepared to deal with it.

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Risk Assessments: Protecting Your Business from the Threat of Fire

Although no one wants to imagine a fire occurring in their workplace, fire prevention and protection is essential for your business. Your business must put in place procedures to reduce the risk of a fire and protect employees in the unfortunate event that a fire breaks out.

Every working environment will have different risks associated with it. By law your business must have a fire risk assessment carried out, to identify fire risks and hazards in your premises. A site survey will help to advise you on the best fire protection equipment and what your business needs to do to protect itself against the threat of fire.

Identify Fire Hazards in Your Workplace

The first stage in fire prevention is to establish any sources of ignition that could potentially spark a fire. For a fire to start it needs three things – fuel to burn, oxygen to feed the flames and a source of ignition to set it off. To reduce the chances of a fire starting you must take steps to ensure that these 3 ingredients are kept apart.

Ignition sources can include naked flames, sparks from burning materials, faulty electrical equipment, cooking, heaters and lit cigarettes. When you have identified these potential risks you need to find ways of mitigating them and educating staff so that these are handled properly to maintain the highest level of safety.

Identify the People that are at Risk

As an employer your most important duty is to protect your workers and in some cases any members of the public who may enter your premises. You must identify in particular the groups that may be most at risk including those that are working near fire dangers, people working alone, children, elderly and the disabled.

Evaluate the Level of Risk and Take Steps to Reduce It

Once you have established any potential fire threats in your workplace and which people are most vulnerable, you need to determine how much of a fire risk each individual threat is. You can then look into ways that you can tackle them to make your workplace a safer place.

This could be something as simple as making sure flammables are kept away from sources of ignition or replacing highly flammable materials wherever possible with less flammable materials. You should also make sure that electrical equipment is PAT tested and checked for faults regularly and that if smoking is allowed on your premises, it is only allowed in a designated, safe area away from main buildings and flammable materials.

Get the Experts in for a full Fire Risk Assessment

When dealing with fire safety, it’s always best to leave nothing to chance. We would strongly recommend getting a qualified and experienced professional to carry out a fire risk assessment for you. Since 2005 fire risk assessments have been a legal requirement under the Fire Safety Order and should cover everything from high fire risks & hazardous activities, methods of detecting fires, maintaining escape routes, fire fighting equipment and training. Your business must act on the findings of the assessment to take appropriate measures to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life if a fire does occur. 

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