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Guide to Fire Safety in the Workplace

schedule 21st August 2019 by Virtual College in Health and Safety Last updated on 21st August 2019

Guide to fire safety in work

Whether you work in a state-of-the-art office at the heart of London or in a weather-beaten quarry in Scotland, fire safety is and always should be of paramount importance in any workplace. It is, in fact, a legal requirement for almost every business, and in the event of an emergency, can save lives.

It can be hard to know where to begin sometimes with fire safety however, but we’re here to help with our comprehensive fire safety guide. Read on to find out how to make your office as fire safe as possible.

Fire safety legislation

It is important that you understand your legal duties when it comes to ensuring your workplace is fire safe. The legislation you need to understand is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This informs businesses what they need to do to comply with fire safety law, including requiring businesses to carry out risk assessment, identifying the general fire precautions they need to have in place, and appointing staff who are trained in fire safety.

Fire safety risk assessments

It pays to be prepared in as many ways as possible, and this all starts with a fire safety risk assessment carried out by the employees or the company. This risk assessment takes into account everything that might be the cause of a fire and considers the various obstacles that might need addressing in the event of a fire. This can take whichever form your working environment requires, but generally should include the following steps, according to the UK government’s standards:

  • Take note of all fire hazards and risks
  • Identify those who are most at risk in case of fire
  • Take action to remove the risks as much as possible
  • Create an emergency plan to follow in case of fire
  • Review the fire risk assessment often

You also should make yourself as aware as possible of the fire escapes and how different areas might present different congestion challenges during evacuations.

Equipment

A variety of different equipment is required for a fire-safe office, used both for calling attention and for fighting any fires that might start.

A robust system of alarms should be installed. The most common alarms set ups are Conventional Fire Alarm Systems which are made up of smoke or heat detectors, connected to a central control panel. The detectors are split into zones, which is handy for finding out where the fire began and is spreading to. Some alarms are linked to the offices of the Fire Brigade, alerting them immediately when the fire is detected. Regardless of model, an alarm system is a must for a fire safe office.

Firefighting equipment is another wise addition. Fire extinguishers are the best and most widely used, but different ones must be used in different situations. A water extinguisher is used against organic fires arising from organic materials, like wood, coal and plastic, while powder extinguishers work on liquid fires and carbon dioxide extinguishers work on electrical fires. Fire blankets and buckets also perform similar tasks but aren’t quite as efficient.

Finally, a series of signs should be set up, alerting colleagues to the important aspects of fire safety in the office. Fire exits and points of assembly should be correctly labelled, as well as all equipment and alarms. It can be very helpful to place signs up detailing the evacuation procedure, for reference during an emergency. All signs should be glow in the dark, for the purpose of visibility.

Training and Fire Wardens

Fire risk assessments and all the work that goes into fire prevention are not worth much if they aren’t backed up by a trained workforce.

For this reason, training is a must and should apply to all employees in the workspace. Training sessions should be held, and refresher courses ought to be hosted whenever the evacuation procedure changes. New starters should be inducted as part of their employment.

Fire Wardens and Fire Marshals positions must be created and assigned, and specialist training should be given to them to raise awareness of their duties and responsibilities. This can be given in person, but fire warden training online is becoming more and more common. Our Fire Safety for Fire Marshals and Wardens Training course is the perfect tool for training new wardens and marshals from scratch, or providing refresher lessons for those who are more experienced. Up to four hours of interactive content, makes up an informative self-paced training routine which is designed to inform Fire Wardens of their responsibilities and to teach general fire safety to the workforce.

All of the above steps should be reviewed and evaluated periodically, to maintain high levels of fire safety in the workplace. Regardless of where or how you work, it’s always worth remembering that a working environment can never be too fire safe.

Top Fire Safety FAQs

Is fire safety training a legal requirement?

It is legally required for all employees to be trained in basic fire safety when inducted into your business, and should be periodically followed up throughout employment.

Is using water a dangerous way to remove heat from fire?

Water is typically one of the most straightforward ways of removing heat from a fire, but there are times where this is dangerous. You should never use water on cooking oil fires and metal fires as it will make the situation worse and add further dangers.

What are some fire safety tips?

Ensure that you have smoke alarms installed throughout your home or business and test them every month in case the batteries are flat. Take care when cooking with oil at home and never leave lit candles unattended. Have a thorough fire safety evacuation plan in case of a large fire and carry out drills regularly. If a fire does occur, make sure you stay outside and call for help until the fire has been completely extinguished.

What are the 3 main causes of fire?

Three major causes of fires are cooking equipment overheating, faulty electrical wiring or appliances and smoking.

Click here to visit our full FAQ Hub


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