Fire is one of the most devastating forces in the world, and it can completely destroy any building if measures aren’t made to prevent it and to react quickly and sensibly in the event of a fire. Having the knowledge and preparations in place makes all the difference in the event of a workplace fire, so this article will outline ten fire safety tips every business should know.
1. Have a Designated Fire Safety Officer
There are various people responsible for the fire safety of a non-domestic building – such as the employer, owner, landlord, occupier, or anyone else who has been given control of the premises, such as a building or office manager. For more about who is legally responsible for workplace fire safety, visit the official government portal.
If you match one of these roles and you haven’t been making efforts to ensure your workplace is safe from fire, then now is the time to start! If you’re an employer and you don’t think you have time to oversee the fire safety, you can designate a fire safety officer provided they have the expertise or you train them in fire safety. The fire safety officer should oversee many of the other fire safety precautions on this list, including evacuation drills, escape routes, etc.
2. Establish and Clearly Signpost Escape Routes
It’s vital that employees have viable escape routes in the event of a fire. This may seem like stating the obvious, but many businesses are in fact lazy in this regard and it can cost lives. Make sure that there are fire escape routes leading out of different parts of your premises to ensure that employees aren’t trapped in one closed-off area. It’s also important to clearly signpost the fire exits and to consult with your local fire authority to ensure your escape routes are as effective as possible and meet regulations.
3. Work Out an Effective Emergency Plan
Clearly explain evacuation procedures to everyone on the premises, making sure people understand the safest routes out of the building depending on where they are when a fire starts. It’s also important to explain your different types of fire warning systems so that employees can react quickly in an emergency.
4. Conduct Regular Fire Drills
Even if you have established clear escape routes and worked out an effective emergency plan, it’s important to practice it by conducting regular drills. Knowing what to do in theory and actually doing it are two very different things. And so, it’s important to conduct regular fire drills so that employees are sure of what to do in the case of a fire. Regular fire drills are also good practice because they teach new staff about the escape route who might not have known about it beforehand.
5. Install Adequate Fire-Detection Systems
This tip perhaps goes without saying, as it’s a legal requirement of all businesses to install fire alarms and to ensure they work properly. It’s also important that you ensure employees know how to trigger a fire alarm, should the automatic alarm malfunction for whatever reason.
6. Implement a Closed-Door Policy
Fire needs fuel, heat, and oxygen to spread, so if it comes into contact with a fire-retardant door, then it will be temporarily stalled. This could buy the fire service enough time to fight the fire before it destroys your entire premises; it could save thousands of pounds and several lives. So even though it’s good to have open doors in an office, make sure you remind people to close their doors when they’re not in their office and to close the doors when they’re the last ones out in the event of a fire. If you want to take this a step further, you can invest in fire shutters or fire curtains from experts like K & D Systems. These barriers can hold the most violent fires at bay for up to two hours – which should definitely be enough to ensure everyone gets out safely and the fire service to fight the fire before it spreads throughout the entire premises. It’s a good idea to install fire curtains in the room that provides the biggest fire risk; doing so may even contain the fire to that room alone.