Accidental fires are a relatively uncommon occurrence, but they can cripple small to medium-sized businesses, and many small businesses involved in a fire do not recover, closing within a few years of the event. Fires also put the lives of your staff at risk, and may expose you to costly lawsuits so it’s always worth learning about fire safety management, and putting together a sound emergency plan.
This article walks you through a three step process that’s designed to help you start building your own processes and protocols.
UK fire law Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 lays out how businesses can comply with the law. One of their requirements is for businesses to carry out risk assessments, as they recognise just how essential they are to fire safety.
All good safety management strategies start with a thorough risk assessment. These assessments are designed to help you identify:
Your fire risk assessment will also help you to work out what preventative action you need to take, and expose any weaknesses in your pre-existing fire management strategy.
More importantly, a thorough fire safety risk assessment will allow you to analyse your existing emergency plans in some detail, which will help you to formulate a more robust strategy in the future.
Once you’ve performed a thorough fire risk assessment, you can start taking steps to mitigate any fire hazards. This process is highly dependent on the type of business you run, but the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) suggest that all businesses consider:
If you’re using protective equipment like smoke alarms, fire extinguishers or emergency lighting, the CFAO also recommend that you organising regular, scheduled testing of all fire safety equipment, to ensure that you’re prepared in the event of a fire.
Once you’ve performed a risk assessment and taken steps to reduce the chances of a fire breaking out, you will need to spend some time devising a robust emergency plan.
An emergency plan (sometimes called a fire evacuation emergency plan or FEEP) is normally a step-by-step outline of the actions that need to be taken in the event of a fire, including information on how to respond to alarms, how to evacuate the building and when to call emergency services. A good FEEP will also ensure that your staff know how to act in a fire.
Your emergency plan should also contain details of your fire wardens/marshal, and your emergency service liaison so that people know who to contact in the event of a fire.
It’s also vital that staff receive proper training on fire safety.
If you’d like to learn more about creating your own emergency fire plan, or you feel that you would benefit from additional fire safety training, you might be interested in our fire safety training course for fire marshals and wardens, which you can find here.