Fire risk assessment and safety is something all businesses are familiar with and usually have no problems testing alarms, having company fire drills and checking fire exits are clear. However, if spot checked, how many of your businesses would actually pass the legal requirements for not only carrying out their risk assessment, but complying with what they have set out and keeping the sufficient records?
Many businesses will abide by the Fire Safety Order requirements and have either themselves or an expert complete a fire risk assessment for their premises when they start to operate from there, but how regularly is this risk assessment revisited?
If your premises has undergone any building work, had extra cables or phone lines installed, some plumbing work or any other remedial work, you may not have noticed some underlying changes to your environment which could affect your fire safety plan. It is very easy to think a quick glance at the surface and checking alarms sound and lights work is you completing your regular check, but this will not suffice. Rarely do people look above or below the surface of their escape route and it is common to find large holes left behind false walls or ceilings which could be a serious hazard allowing fire to spread much faster around your premises.
It is easy to combat these issues by ensuring effective compartmentation in your property. There are many intumescent sealants and cements you can use to repair holes that may not even require specialist skills. To keep on top of any future problems it is also a good idea to ask your contractor about what flame retardant products he will be using to repair any holes which may be incurred if you are having work carried out.
The other area where businesses tend to fall short is keeping the required records of fire alarm testing. Your fire alarm should be tested on a strict daily, weekly and monthly routine.
Daily – Fire alarm, check visually no faults are displaying. No record needed.
Weekly – Fire alarm, operate a call point to ensure the system is in working order and can be heard throughout your building. This should be kept to a regular time so staff know it is a test and should be recorded in the fire safety log book.
Monthly – Emergency lights and fire extinguishers, check that all lights are in working order and that all extinguishers are in the appropriate place and are not damaged or missing any of their instructional information. These test should also be recorded in your safety log book.
When kept up to date these checks will be time and cost effective as well as ensuring the safety of your business. With your staff aware of the fire safety plan and your designated fire warden fulfilling their duties there is no excuse to let these requirements slide and put yourselves at risk, not only from failing to meet legal requirements if tested, but from the risk of fire itself.