Helping businesses, community groups and charities stay safe

Sun 7 Dec, 2014

Click here for some facts and figures - we are adding one for every day of UK Business Safety Week 2014

Businesses should take extra care to protect their staff, customers, premises and stock this festive period. That’s the message from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service for UK Business Safety Week, which starts tomorrow (Monday 8 December).

The week has been scheduled to run at a time when many businesses will have additional fire risks because they have large amounts of extra stock, an increase in seasonal employees or are preparing for a winter shutdown period.

As December is a busy month for many businesses, particularly retailers, basic precautions which are normally taken throughout the year can sometimes be overlooked.

The awareness week, coordinated nationally by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, 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 Manager Neil Boustred from Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service said: “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."

Fire safety officers are also keen to help reduce the potential for fire in buildings used for voluntary and community activities. Many communities may depend upon the support provided by organisations using a community centre, for example, so reminding the owners of these premises to reconsider their risks, especially at this time of year, will help protect the valuable services that these voluntary and charitable groups offer.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service will be working with homeless charities in High Wycombe and Milton Keynes to help them with their plans to open cold-weather shelters in the first three months of next year.

Andy Jones, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Protection and Enforcement Manager, said: “These shelters often comprise large numbers of beds in premises which have not been designed for this use.

“We are taking this opportunity to offer our support, and initial interaction with the charities suggests they are well-organised and aware of the risks.”

General safety tips for businesses include:

  • Complete a fire risk assessment to reduce the risk of suffering a fire in the first place, and to make sure you comply with fire safety laws.
  • Check and maintain alarm systems regularly to help eliminate automatic false alarms and ensure the alarm is working if required.
  • Make sure extra stock is stored away from fire escapes so that staff and customers can get out safely in the event of a fire.