As we approach the end of the third national lockdown, businesses that were previously unable to operate will soon be opening their doors again.
Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service wishes these businesses well, and a safe return in what has been a testing year for everyone. We would also like to provide some fire safety guidance to help you keep your business operating as we move forward.
- Fire risk assessment: Your fire risk assessment should be reviewed regularly to ensure that it is suitable and sufficient and considers any changes made. Be sure to share these amendments with staff who may not be aware upon their return.
- Large numbers: Certain sectors, such as retail, are likely to be very busy. Does your building consider one-way systems and ensure that these do not compromise fire escape routes?
- Hospitality: As we see outdoor hospitality open, we ask that business owners take care when using gazebos and outdoor heating units. Near to one another these items present a risk of heat transfer.
- Changes in work patterns: Any temporary changes in work patterns, reductions or phased returns to work should be made clear to all employees. Routine fire tests such as weekly fire alarm tests, emergency lighting, fire doors and extinguisher checks should be factored into your new working pattern.
- Fire door survey: Are your fire doors up to standard, with all their features intact and doors not propped open? These may not have been checked either internally or externally for some time. It is recommended that a full fire door survey is completed by a competent person.
- Any alterations to the building: Have any internal layout plans changed and been updated in your fire risk assessment?
- Increase in stock levels: Demand for certain stock may increase due to seasonal changes. Storage of stock should not jeopardise escape routes, and should be kept clear of any potential ignition sources such as heat transfer from lighting on to high bay storage.
- New employees: New staff should be fully trained in what to do in the event of an emergency – for example, the location of manual break-glass points and fire assembly points. You should also consider refresher fire safety training for existing staff.
- Utilities: Have your on-site gas and electricity services been tested and maintained
- Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and extraction systems: In the event of a fire, these systems may allow for a fire to spread quickly through a building. Have these systems within your building been serviced?
- Onsite equipment: Has your equipment or machinery been tested and maintained in-line with the manufacturer’s recommendations?
- Fire assembly point: Your fire assembly point should be known to all people within the building, with emergency action signs directing people.
- Arson prevention: Is your building, and the area surrounding it, kept secure? Flammable waste materials should be stored appropriately, away from ignition sources, and scheduled collections made.
- Smoking: Under The Health Act 2006 it is an offence to smoke within an enclosed workspace. Does your building display signage and have suitable areas where occupants can and cannot smoke?
Guidance specific to your type of business to help you with your fire risk assessment can be found on our website www.bucksfire.gov.uk/safety-category/at-work/
Our teams are on hand to help you return to work safely. If you have any queries about fire safety in the workplace, please email firstname.lastname@example.org