Annual campaign targets fire safety in the workplace

Mon 11 Sep, 2017

Businesses should take extra care to protect their staff, customers and premises as they gear up for the Christmas period. That’s the message from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service for UK Business Safety Week, which starts today.

The week has been scheduled to run at a time when many businesses will be thinking about recruiting additional members of seasonal staff. These new recruits may not have the same level of fire safety awareness as permanent members of staff, and may not be aware of the steps needed to protect themselves, their customers and colleagues. 

The awareness week, coordinated nationally by the National Fire Chiefs Council, encourages businesses to engage with local fire and rescue services to help manage their fire risk, complete their fire risk assessments and ensure business continuity.

Group Commander Richard Priest from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service said: "As this is a busy time for many businesses, particularly retailers, basic precautions which are normally taken throughout the year can sometimes be overlooked.

“If you manage a building or have a business, you have a legal requirement to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.

“A fire in a business can put the lives of staff and customers at risk, damage stock and premises and make it impossible for a company to carry out its day-to-day work. This impacts not only on the organisation itself, but also on its employees, suppliers and customers.

"We are asking local businesses to work with us to ensure their premises are safe and that they update assessments and procedures in reponse to changes in the business.

"We are also encouraging them to help us reduce the number of false alarms. which drain time and resources, to help protect themselves from arson and to make sure they share fire safety information with their staff 

Richard's top tips are: 

  • You must have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment for the premises in place. Take particular care to ensure your assessment has been reviewed, is up to date and has been acted on.
  • Make sure you have an emergency plan which includes the actions you will need to take in a fire in your premises or any premises nearby.
  • Check that staff have received appropriate training and know what to do in the event of fire.
  • Make sure any equipment you have installed – extinguishers, hose reels, alarms, detectors, sprinklers – is in good working order.
  • Designated key-holders should be able to attend promptly in the event of an automatic fire alarm activating.
  • Properties with lifts should have suitable arrangements in the event of people being shut in the lift.
  • Inspect electrical equipment to make sure it is being maintained correctly, and that sockets and extension cables are not overloaded. Switch off and unplug electrical equipment when not in use.
  • Secure any combustible waste in an appropriate receptacle, and lock away any flammable liquids or gases.
  • Ensure rubbish is taken out of the premises as quickly and as often as possible. Bins should be sited away from buildings and secured if possible, and must not block escape routes.
  • Carry out end-of-day checks to ensure all windows and doors are secure, no combustible material is left lying around, and alarms and outside lights are switched on.

For further information, contact your local fire safety office in Aylesbury Vale/Chiltern, Milton Keynes or South Bucks/Wycombe.