A guide to fire safety during lockdown
Recent guidance from the British Association for Fire Equipment, an independent registration body for fire protection companies in the UK, is that all businesses are required to make sure they are meeting fire safety regulations during lockdown.
Here is our guide to help businesses make sure they are meeting fire regulations during lockdown.
“Coronavirus is not an excuse for disregarding your 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,” says Station Manager Bill Shepherd of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Protection Department.
Businesses must therefore ensure that policies and procedures, checks and fire safety equipment are all up to date and in working order.
However at this time, while businesses not only have many staff on furlough, but are following Government guidance that staff should work from home to aid in the reduction of transmission of COVID-19 where possible, maintaining fire safety regulations can be challenging.
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.
Confirm your Fire Safety Compliance officer
The Fire Safety Order (2005) remains current during the pandemic and operating businesses should ensure they are complying. 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.
If for any reason you have had to change the person responsible for ensuring compliance, this is especially important and local fire teams are keen to support as most businesses are experiencing changes in risk.
Click here to contact your regional fire service: Regional Fire Services
The compliance officer may well advise following consultation that there is a need to update staff training and awareness if fire procedures and exit points have changed.
Check your insurance
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 they can help you to make sure that your policy is valid and all conditions are being met during lockdown.
Update fire safety signage and exits if you have made social distancing adaptations
It might be that the individual responsible for implementing social distancing is not the same team member who is responsible for your fire safety risk assessment. Ideally both relevant team members should 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.
Assess security upgrades
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 risk of arson. Take time to consider access points, what security alarms, locks and CCTV you have to negate this risk. Our team can offer specific help here. Call us on 01726 65636 or email email@example.com
Schedule in regular tests
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 or service your equipment we have a full range of fire safety equipment, including extinguishers and can service these. We can also help you to check and update your fire and smoke alarm systems.
Check where flammable items are being kept
Many businesses will have invested in items such as cleaning products or hand sanitizer which can be flammable. While fire safety experts are keen to explain that it is not possible for hand sanitizer to catch fire without a spark you should be cautious about how and where you store these items, especially if you are cooking or using naked flames on the premises. In addition, if papers or other highly flammable materials have been moved around due to lockdown and social distancing, check that they are not positioned and stored in a way which increases the risk of a small fire quickly getting out of control.
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 65636 or email firstname.lastname@example.org