Fire safety advice before and during your holiday
Holiday season is here and for many small businesses this means there may well be periods when your property is vacant or covered by temporary staff. Here are a few tips and free resources to help you minimize the risk of fire and keep everyone safe during these periods.
Read through your fire risk assessment
Every commercial property must have a fire risk assessment, and reading through this is a helpful way for you to identify any risks which might be heightened if the premises are vacant for a longer period of time than normal. Doing this when you go away is also a helpful way to make sure the fire risk assessment is up to date.
- For a guide, blank template and example fire risk assessments from the fire & rescue service, visit: https://www.nifrs.org/firesafe/guidance.php
- For more advice on your responsibilities regarding fire safety, click here.
- To download a free, helpful guide from the Chief Officers Fire Association on making your premises safe from fire, click here.
Check fire and smoke alarms are working
Your fire risk assessment should document when these were last tested, if not, then now is a good time to check again and update your records.
Check firefighting equipment is working
Check your fire extinguishers and other firefighting equipment is working, clearly labelled and signposted and that everyone who will be on the premises knows how to use them.
Ensure electrical appliances have been tested
Check your records to find out if all electrical appliances and boilers have been tested and are up to date. Arrange tests if necessary and record the results and dates of tests.
Make sure any temporary cover staff are trained in fire safety
If you are having temporary cover during the holiday season, make sure any short-term staff are trained to know where fire exits are and fire evacuation procedures; where firefighting equipment is and how to use it; your smoking policy and basic fire safety precautions set out in your fire risk assessment.
Record who is on the premises at any time
It may be likely that some staff work alone or visit the business premises at irregular hours during holiday season, so make sure you have a visitors log or clear way for authorities to know quickly if anyone is likely to be on the premises in the event of a fire.
Unplug any unnecessary electrical appliances.
Immediately before you leave, ensure any appliances or devices which do not need to be plugged in are physically unplugged from the socket. This has the benefit of saving you money too as many appliances use a surprising amount of electricity when simply on standby mode.
Use alarm monitors.
Nowadays you can have monitors which plug directly into the electrical sockets and are connected to your handheld devices. Upon signs of fire manifesting or smoke being present, the monitors will notify you through an app, via text messages or email. You can then take actions accordingly.
And some fire safety tips before you leave your home
- check your smoke alarms are working
- turn off all gas appliances that are not required to run while you are away
- unplug all unnecessary electrical appliances
- close all internal doors; this will contain a fire if you are away, so less damage is caused.
- turn off water at the mains: water from a leaking pipe or overflowing from a cistern could short out electrical wiring and cause a fire
- empty all rubbish bins and ashtrays
- appoint a keyholder, someone you can trust who ideally lives nearby, who knows how to contact you. You can also give the details of this person to your local police as many run keyholder services to help them cope with fires or alarms while property owners are away.