Tag Archives: fire safety tips

comptent fire risk assessorThe ‘Fire Safety Order’ requires that commercial premises carry out a fire risk assessment to determine the risk to people from fire. Legislation also requires that measures are taken to keep people safe from fire whilst on those premises.

In simple premises it is quite likely and practical that the owner or duty holder carries out the assessment. In more complex buildings however it is wise to consider employing a professional consultant.

In fact, in England and Wales, Government guidance suggests that where buildings are more than four storeys high then the duty holder should seek the advice of a competent person.

As this requirement becomes more and more in demand this year saw the setting up of ‘The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council’.
Their advice to duty holders carrying out their own assessment in simple places is as follows:

The following attributes of a fire risk assessor might be sufficient in conjunction with a study of suitable guidance documents. Even in such a simple building, the fire risk assessor will need:-

a) An understanding of relevant current best fire safety practices in buildings of the type in question;

b) An awareness of the limitations of the fire risk assessor's own experience and knowledge;

c) A willingness and ability to supplement existing experience and knowledge, when necessary, by obtaining external help and advice

In order to help in this regard we are putting on a series of workshops. The first being held in Harrogate on Tuesday July 19th, 2011.

For more details click [Free Fire Safety Training]

confusing fire exit signs
Safety signs for escape routes and fire exits in the UK can be very confusing. Understanding where signs should be positioned is one thing but before that people have to comprehend the difference between an exit route and a fire exit. Do you know the difference?
An exit route is the route that occupants of a building are most familiar with. Usually this is also the normal everyday route used to enter and leave by.
A fire exit is an alternative route provided only for use in an emergency. It is not the normal route to leave and enter by.
This is the first common mistake where businesses use ‘Fire Exit’ signs on the normal route and even ‘exit’ signs on the fire exit route.
To compound the confusion further we have a choice of formats. It is currently acceptable to use any of the following formats: ISO, British Standard or Euro Symbols.
ISO signs have the graphic of a green man in front of a white door with a directional arrow. British standard have the same but with supporting wording. Euro Symbols however have a white man running towards a white door with a directional arrow. Either format can be used but must remain constant throughout; mixed standards within a building are not acceptable.

Do you know what the following signs mean? (Mouse over the envelope to reveal the answer)

fire exit sign 1 fire exit sign 2 fire exit sign 3

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The fire safety ninja toolbox
The internet is scattered with fire safety resources but it is always handy when someone brings them altogether. These are specifically UK sites (but fire-safety advice really knows no boundaries).
Each of the following links has a dedicated topic other than our very own final link we like to think is the ‘Daddy of them all!’ With resources galore!

Fire Safety Resources catalogue
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Candle safety advice
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Arson Prevention

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Fire Kills government advice site
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British third-party certification scheme for fire protection equipment and services
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The Fire Safety Management Journal
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Means of Escape website
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Government advice on fire risk assessments
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Fire safety advice for people with sight, hearing or mobility difficulties
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Fire Safety Outdoors
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Fire Safety in shared accommodation
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The Top 50 free fire safety resources

insufficient fire risk assessment
A vast amount of prosecutions for breaches in UK fire legislation include the phrase ‘insufficient fire risk assessment’.

There are obviously a myriad of reasons why a risk assessment could be deemed insufficient but to point you in the right direction here’s a ‘heads up’ to the the seven most common:
People at Risk through lack of or inadequate training. Many business owners delegate fire-safety responsibility to a senior member of staff or manager. Typically we find it has been passed to the head of HR or in a smaller business an admin or department manager.
Very often however no training, to assist them in their role, is put into place. If a member of staff is to become ostensibly a ‘fire marshal’ then there is a duty to provide them with adequate training.
On a broader note all members of staff can lack training when it comes to fire protection provision. If fire protection methods and services are employed then any staff that can avail themselves of these services should be trained to do so. A good example is fire-extinguisher training; if extinguishers are intended to be used by any member of staff then every member of staff needs to  receive training
Electrical Hazards are most commonly represented by the lack of regular testing. All portable appliances (usually recognised by the provision of a plug and cord *but not exclusively) should have a regime of ‘Portable Appliance Testing’.
The fixed wiring in the building (lights, sockets etc.) require a ‘periodic inspection’ and certification. Most commercial premises require these tests at five-yearly intervals but this can vary dependent upon environmental factors.
* Items with a flex and no plug, such as a hand-dryer, also require PAT testing.
Combustibles on the escape route are commonly overlooked. Escape routes should be free from combustibles and or wall-linings that promote fire-spread. Many businesses in their efforts to cheer up a drab workplace introduce plants, coat stands, paintings etc.

Other small businesses are just simply challenged with space and place combustibles and sources of ignition on escape routes and stairs such as photocopiers or vending machines. They all need to go!
Insufficient compartmentation can be easily overlooked often due to lack of knowledge in terms of what to look for. If an escape route is required to have 30 minute fire-resistance and classified as a place-of-safety then the fire-stopping methods should be adequate. Generally people spot doors that don’t close or missing intumescent strips but rarely do they think to look above ceiling tiles or under floors. These are the areas that, over the years, have had compartments breached by various infrastructure installations (plumbing, phone and computer networks etc.). If there is a whacking big hole above the ceiling with a couple of small pipes going through – guess what? It won’t do!
Inadequate fire protection systems can be overlooked. When filling in a tick-box form ‘Does the building have a fire alarm?’ gets a big tick. When often this should be expanded to ‘Yes but it’s woefully inadequate’.
Likewise extinguisher provision can either be poor or non-existent. It is essential that any fire-fighting equipment provided is adequate in both terms of coverage and suitability to the potential fuels that are present.
No regular testing or too greater frequency of testing is common place. This is one of the most consistent failings for the average UK business. Simply the tests are not taking place or the frequency is not short enough inline with the British standard requirements. Further guidance can be found in my previous blog.