Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is urging businesses that have reopened their doors not to overlook fire safety and ensure it remains a top priority in the workplace.
The call comes after many businesses had to implement and enforce news ways of working due to the pandemic. MFRS is reminding businesses about the everyday fire risks in the workplace and both the legal and moral responsibility to ensure premises are safe from fire.
Many businesses had to respond quickly to the pandemic once they were allowed to reopen and while revisiting risk assessments, fire safety may not have been at the forefront of planning.
MFRS is backing the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Business Safety Week – which runs from 6th to 12th September – and encouraging business owners and Responsible Persons (RPs) to ensure they review their Fire Risk Assessments.
MFRS staff, including operational firefighters and fire safety staff, will be visiting businesses across Merseyside throughout the week to offer free help, advice and guidance to help minimise the risk of fire in the work place.
Station Manager Steve McManus, from MFRS’ Fire Safety Department, said: “We know it has been a challenging 18 months for businesses and we want them to get back to work so they can continue to make their valued contribution to the economy and local communities.
“However, it's vital that businesses continue to prioritise fire safety and take steps to ensure staff are suitably trained, fire equipment is checked and maintained and any Covid secure measures do not compromise fire safety.
“Fire can have a devastating impact on a business with many never recovering. That’s why we are committed to working closely with our local business communities to ensure they are aware of what they can do to reduce the risk of fire and keep their business, staff and customers safe.”
Some of the key areas of focus during the week will be fire risk assessments and ways to reduce false alarms.
Around 44% of fire service call outs in the UK are as a result of false alarms. Not only do they impact on business productivity, but they increase pressure on fire service resources and time, both of which could be spent on dealing with genuine emergencies and community prevention and protection activities.
Advice is also available to businesses on reducing the risk of arson by taking simple steps to protect premises. There were more than 4,700 deliberate fires in businesses in the UK in 2019-20 and most attacks are unplanned and opportunist crimes.
Top tips for keeping your business safe:
- Remember, where Covid secure measures remain in place, they should not adversely affect fire safety. Keep exit routes clear and available for use.
- Are your staff adequately trained?
- Do your staff know what to do in the event of a fire?
- Do staff know the building evacuation plan?
- Are staff aware of the fire exit routes?
- Is someone nominated to dial 999?
- Are staff expected to use fire extinguishers and, if so, are they trained?
- Is your Fire Risk Assessment up to date?
The fire risk assessment should be completed by a competent fire risk assessor. It is usually reviewed at least every 12 months and if there are any changes that may affect the fire safety of the premises. Such as, changes to the premises, processes and/or management system. Further information on fire risk assessments can be found at https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments
- Does your fire alarm work?
An alarm test should be carried out on a weekly basis using a different call point each time and it should be subject to an annual test by a suitably qualified engineer.
- Do you have enough fire extinguishers for your premises?
Extinguishers should be checked weekly and have an annual test by a qualified engineer.
- Are your exits clear?
Escape routes should be kept clear and designated fire exits should not be blocked by furniture or excess stock. DO NOT prop open fire doors, even if this is intended to minimse contact between staff and door handles. Fire exit doors should be available for use whenever the premises is occupied. Fire doors should be maintained in good condition so they can perform the job they are designed to do.
- Do self closing devices work?
- Are the intumescent strips and smoke seals around the edge of the door frame undamaged?
- Do your fire doors close snugly against the frame?
- Are they free from damage (e.g. from stock trolleys)?
- Is your business protected against arson?
- Make sure your business premises are secure out of hours
- Ideally all rubbish should be removed from site on a regular basis and stored securely until collection.
- Keep all entrances and exits of the building clear at all times
- Stock should not be kept in excessive amounts
- Lighting, CCTV and fencing will deter criminals
- For more information on keeping your business safe from fire, please read our Business Fire Safety leaflet on our website here.