1. Fire safety starts with a fire risk assessment
Ensure you have an up to date fire risk assessment. This is required by law under the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. For simple premises, it might is possible to do this yourself. There is plenty of information about fire risk assessments out there on the internet. However, it is important that a fire risk assessment is suitable and sufficient and carried out by a competent person. If you are in doubt about how to do this please do not hesitate to get in touch and we can talk you through some possible solutions.
2. Carry out regular building fire safety tours
What gets checked, gets done. Make sure to walk around your building(s) regularly. Check that fire doors are kept closed and are not propped open, make sure that corridors are kept clear and that final exit doors are not obstructed. Keep an eye out for equipment that is not PAT tested and make sure that sources of fuel, such as paper bins, are kept away from sources of heat such as portable heaters.
3. Make sure you have a suitable fire detection system in place
If a fire starts would you know? The best way to do this is to have a suitable fire detection system installed. This way, should a fire start then an alarm would go off notifying you and your staff to leave the building. You would be amazed at how many organisations do not have suitable fire detection measures in place. You have a legal duty to protect your staff, visitors, students and contractors from the risk of fire.
4. Check your emergency lighting arrangements
If the power failed during an evacuation could your get out? Emergency lighting is designed to help you to do just that. Corridors, circulation areas, escape routes and stairwells should all illuminate in the event of a power failure. Emergency lighting would provide you with suitable light to safely evacuate from the building. Make sure that your emergency lighting works by testing it regularly, having it annually inspected and by keeping good records. It might be an idea to even consider testing it at night to see that your existing provision is suitable in a real life emergency.
5. Maintain and visually inspect fire doors
Fire doors save lives by holding back fire, heat and smoke which could quickly travel through a building engulfing it in poisonous gases and preventing evacuation. Keep fire doors shut. Make sure people are not holding them open, they are there for a reason. Inspect them regularly, check that the self-closing device works, check out the condition of the door and the frame, are the smoke strips in place around the door/frame? Keep fire doors in good condition and make sure they are regularly inspected with records kept. Failure to maintain fire doors could result in serious fines!
6. Test final escape doors work
Too often final exit doors are not checked. Overtime push to exit bars become stiff and fail to easily operate. Make sure they are opened and closed at least once a month. If they do not open easily and first time, then you need to get them fixed. Keep records of the inspections as they may one day be required to defend your organisation from prosecution.
7. Train staff about fire safety and prevention
You have a legal requirement to train your staff in fire safety awareness. This should be carried out annually to ensure that you and your team know what to do to prevent fires and what to do in the event of a fire. So many fires are caused by carelessness and neglect. Avoid the risks by training your staff to be fire aware. For more information about basic fire awareness see http://www.jchsafety.co.uk/basic-fire-safety-awareness/ where we have a free trial available for you.
8. Ensure you have adequate fire marshals
Fire marshals are vital for evacuating a building in an emergency. They lead people to safety, coordinate the evacuation process, check the building is empty and help to possibly locate the fire. It is necessary to ensure that fire marshals are adequately trained and understand your organisations fire evacuation procedures. JCH Safety offer comprehensive online fire marshal training that has been ROSPA approved. http://www.jchsafety.co.uk/fire-marshal/
9. Carry out fire drills
You need to know that your fire safety procedures work effectively. The only way this can be tested is to run evacuation drills. Set off the alarm with as few as possible people knowing the drill is going to happen, set a timer to record how long it will take and observe the process. It is important to keep records of fire drills. If you need any help with how to manage a fire evacuation drill please get in touch.
10. Keep good quality records in your fire log book
As with all aspects to do with fire, health and safety it is important to train, monitor and test everything that is set in place to keep people safe. This is no different with fire safety and prevention. Train your staff and record that it has been done. Keep copies of training certificates and make sure you have a way to be alerted when it requires updating. Monitor everything. Regularly inspect your building, keep records, check that records are being kept properly and don’t just assume something has been done. When you have your equipment inspected check to see if there is a need for remedial works and if there is, get them done. Record that they have been done! Test- regularly check the emergency lighting, test the alarm, visually check fire doors are working and run evacuation drills.
If you would like any assistance with any aspect of fire safety please do not hesitate to contact us.
We have put together a fire safety checklist to help you to see how you are doing with your fire management.