Fire safety should be an important part of any business’ infrastructure. It is one of those areas we really don’t want to ponder for too long – but ponder we should.
It’s estimated that 80% of businesses suffering a major fire never recover.
There are many possible causes of fire but rather than become overwhelmed considering all the possibilities it would be wise to start by addressing a few of the most common: arson, electrical fires, smoking and cooking.
Over 50% of all fires resulting in a major insurance claim are due to Arson. Arson can involve anything from wilful fire-starting, vandalism, intimidation, and disgruntled ex-employees to attempts to cover up a crime.
Yet there are many simple steps you can take to deter a would-be arsonist. For help in stopping arson visit the free resources page.
There are two distinct areas with which a business must comply to avoid electrical fires:
a) PAT testing – Portable Appliance Testing of electrical appliances within the workplace must be carried out at regular intervals. The frequency of testing varies depending upon the type of device and the environment in which it is used. You can download a detailed guide on PAT testing to ensure your business fully complies.
b) Periodic Testing – All commercial buildings in the UK require periodic testing and inspection of the fixed wiring (sockets, lights etc.) and depending upon the type of building the frequency of inspections varies. Standard commercial buildings require a periodic inspection every five years, industrial buildings every three and buildings open to the public annually.
It has been illegal to smoke in a UK workplace since 2007 and because of that many people give little or no thought to the possibility of fires caused by smoking. Yet still many fires occur every year as a direct result of smoking.
In 2007 businesses banned their staff from smoking on the premises literally overnight. Did therefore all UK workers give up smoking overnight too? Of course not and that is exactly the point. Accepting that they are still going to smoke, all be it just outside the building, then what provision is there for them to do so safely?
Surely it is poor practice for employees to discard cigarettes near the building rather than place them in a fire-proof container (e.g. stainless-steel receptacle).
The average UK diet and obsession with all things fried gives us more than our fair share of catering fires. If a business is to undertake commercial catering it is wise to ensure there are protective measures in place such as automatic heat detectors on a BS5839 fire alarm together with appropriate extinguishers, namely wet chemical. In larger installations the use of suppression systems such as Ansul are often employed.
All these areas and more would be addressed when carrying out a fire risk assessment.