Fire Safety




The British Association for Fire Equipment (BAFE) an independent registration body for fire protection companies in the UK, have issued this article warning companies that their fire safety obligations continue as normal, despite the lockdown restrictions and the disruptions of COVID. And, as more and more staff return to work, the warning is important to act upon.


“Coronavirus is not an excuse for disregarding your [fire safety] responsibilities and businesses must ensure that they have an adequate amount of competent people to help in the implementation of both preventative and protective fire safety measures.” Station Manager Bill Shepherd, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Protection Department.


BAFE stress that it is important to ensure that your policies and procedures, your checks and fire safety equipment are all up to date and in working order.

So, how can companies meet this challenge?


In this guide we set out some adaptations and strategies for ensuring your staff and premises are protected from the risk of fire during these challenging times.


The Fire Safety Order (2005) remains current during the COVID-19 pandemic and operating businesses should ensure they are complying. If for any reason you have had to change the person responsible for ensuring compliance, local fire teams are always keen to engage and support in the process, especially now, as most businesses are experiencing changes in risk.


CONTACT YOUR LOCAL FIRE SERVICE TEAM

A good strategy right now is to ensure the person in your business who undertakes fire risk assessments contacts the local fire service team for advice, resources and support, and this is helpful if the person is new to the role.


TALK TO YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY

It may also be advisable for the responsible person to consult with your insurer when considering risk assessment and mitigation. Although the insurer's role is not to determine compliance with the Fire Safety Order, they can help you to make sure that your policy is valid and all conditions are being met during lockdown.


CHECK SOCIAL DISTANCING ADAPTATIONS ARE NOT IMPACTING FIRE SAFETY EXITS , RISKS AND SIGNAGE

It might be that the individual responsible for implementing social distancing is not the same team member who is responsible for and familiar with your fire safety risk assessment. It’s important therefore, if you have not already done so, to walk through the premises and ensure that social distancing controls, such as one way systems, for example, or moved fixtures and fittings are not obstructing fire exits, fire escape and safety signage and they are not causing issues with fire alarms, smoke detectors etc.


You may need to consider replacing or updating your fire escape signage, for example, if furniture or fittings have been moved, or if staff are using different doors or corridors than they previously had.


REVIEW YOUR SECURITY MEASURES

It’s a terrible thing to consider, but it’s also important if your premises are either unstaffed or there are fewer staff working, to review security risks, including the risk of arson. Take time to consider access points, what security alarms, locks and CCTV you have to negate this risk. Your insurer and local fire service advisory team will be able to offer specific help here.


TEST FIRE ALARMS AND EQUIPMENT

If staff have been away for a while or premises unused, testing fire alarms, checking smoke detector batteries and fire extinguishers can all be overlooked. Arrange a time to get this done and log the date of the checks. If you need to update your equipment we have a full range of fire safety equipment, including extinguishers, logbooks and this helpful table to identify which suits your needs.


CHECK STOCK LEVELS AND WHERE STOCK AND FLAMMABLE ITEMS ARE BEING STORED

Making sure that stock items that are valuable, or items such as cleaning products or hand sanitizer which can be flammable are kept in safe areas, away from sparks or heat sources is important at this time. It’s not possible for hand sanitizer to catch fire without a spark (See this fact check article here: https://fullfact.org/health/hand-sanitiser-fire-NHS/">https://fullfact.org/health/hand-sanitiser-fire-NHS/

but you should be cautious about how and where you keep hand sanitizer if you are cooking or using naked flames on the premises.


Cabinets for storing hazardous or flammable products are available, such as this Flamstor cabinet which offers 30 minutes fire resistance.


UPDATE STAFF TRAINING

A lot has changed over time, and it is always helpful to update staff training on fire procedures. If after your fire safety risk assessment and review, your fire safety measures have been altered then arrange to update staff training.


As always our team are happy to talk through your specific needs at this time and offer information or assistance in updating your fire safety procedures. Please contact our team on 01726 74264 or at sales@cisafety.com.