Every day our fire inspectors visit a variety of businesses all across the country. We assess, for example; office blocks, factories, restaurants, and even zoos our clients and locations are extremely diverse. Although the businesses we work with often have nothing in common, they regularly have similar fire safety problems. In this article we are going to outline some of the most common problems and suggest what you can do to solve them.
The majority of the companies we visit will have appointed a responsible person to be in charge of fire safety. Although this is highly advisable, as well as being required by law, we often find that companies who have a designated member of staff often dont maintain training on fire regulations and equipment. This individual is ultimately responsible for your personnel (and property), so constant awareness and training is key to overall safety.
Instead of placing the responsibility on one set of shoulders, we recommend that you should train every member of staff so they are fully prepared and know what to do should a fire ever break out. If your staff are sufficiently trained, they are more likely to pre-empt and spot potential fire risks around your premises; therefore reducing the risk of a fire.
Many HR professionals say that investing money in staff training helps to retain staff, as well as increasing motivation and productivity in the workplace. So by training your staff about fire safety you could not only help prevent a fire, it could also go some way in making your staff more motivated and efficient.
If your business contains a large stock of goods or materials, its really important that you have the necessary safety measures in place. A large number of businesses we visit assume that if they meet the relevant legal requirements, then their property and procedures are satisfactory. Although this is true to a certain extent, there are common problems that can be easily solved that will help to provide higher standards of safety.
We always recommend that your warehouse or storage area should be fitted with a sprinkler system regardless of how big or small it is. In the case of a fire, an effective sprinkler system can considerably reduce the amount of damage done to goods or materials, as well as ensuring your staff are safe at all times.
Its also really important that waste, flammable objects and chemicals arent building up in any part of your building. Waste such as paper and wood shavings presents a serious fire risk if it starts to collect. By simply cleaning your storage area on a regular basis will eliminate this risk.
If you own a large warehouse its really important that all your staff are aware of all the exit points so they can quickly and safely leave building in case of a fire. We also advise that you dont create any dead ends between storage units that are longer than 15 meters.
Inadequate fire equipment
Very often we talk to clients who feel they have the correct fire equipment already in place, even when they have an old fire extinguisher thats been collecting dust for countless years. Rather unsurprisingly, their extinguishers are either faulty or are even the wrong type of extinguisher for their premises in other words they are completely useless and unreliable.
There are strict laws on the type of fire extinguisher you are required to have depending on the potential risks at your premises. For example, if you have abundant electrical equipment you will need to have a C02 extinguisher, which means that if you have a standard water extinguisher the chances are using it will actually enhance the fire, not decrease it.
If you business accommodates a kitchen, you will need to be aware of the strict regulations relating to the different types of fire blankets available, as well as smoke alarms and extinguishers. Its really important that your fire safety equipment functions properly, meets industry standards and is replaced regularly.
The majority of fire risks we identify during our consultancy work can be solved fairly easily with your co-operation and understanding. Simple yet effective factors of moving rubbish and clearing fire exits can easily save lives. Its the small things that ultimately make the biggest difference.
We cant highlight enough how important it is to have the correct fire equipment occupying your commercial property. We strongly recommend that you get a fully qualified consultant to carry out a comprehensive audit of your premises to identify any areas that need to be improved, as well as staff training and awareness.
See our website for more information on how to improve fire safety at your workplace, as well as advice for arranging a consultancy meeting.