Fire Safety Management and Emergency Plan Guide
Accidental fires are a relatively uncommon occurrence, but they can cripple small to medium-sized businesses. Many small businesses involved in a fire don’t recover, closing within a few years of the event.
Fires put the lives of your staff at risk and may expose you to costly lawsuits if anyone gets hurt or if the fire could have been prevented. Because of this, it’s always worth learning about fire safety management and putting together a sound emergency plan.
In this article, we explain a three-step process for fire safety management that’s designed to help you start building your own processes and protocols to keep your business and employees safe from fires.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is a piece of UK legislation that 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.
A fire risk assessment is required by any business owner as part of their legal responsibility to ensure that their workplace is safe. It should be completed every three to four years and is also required if a fire takes place in order to assess how the situation can be prevented from happening again in the future.
According to official guidance from the UK government, five key steps make up a fire risk assessment. These are:
By following all of the above steps, you can ensure that you’ve completed one of the most important fire safety procedures in the workplace that will ensure that the risk of a fire is reduced as much as possible.
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:
When beginning the process of mitigating and removing fire safety risks, you can use the fire safety risk assessment to assess the risks that pose the biggest potential hazard. Identify which risks are most likely to happen and will cause the biggest amount of damage, and prioritise putting safety measures in place to reduce or remove the chance that they will happen.
If you’re using protective equipment like smoke alarms, fire extinguishers or emergency lighting, the CFAO also recommends that you organise 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 fire action plan. This will include a fire evacuation plan which details how your building needs to be evacuated in the event of a fire.
A fire emergency plan (sometimes called an emergency fire evacuation 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 to keep themselves and any members of the public safe.
If you’re putting together your own FEEP, this fire emergency plan should include:
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 are an employer, manager, landlord, or occupier of a business or other non-domestic premises, you are legally responsible for putting together a fire safety management plan, which includes emergency protocols and procedures. As the responsible person, you can either take charge of developing a fire safety plan yourself or employ an expert to do this for you. Both of these options are acceptable in complying with fire safety legislation.
If you are an employer, landlord or own a building, completing a fire risk assessment is a legal requirement. For employers or business owners in particular, this risk assessment is a key part of keeping employees and members of the public safe in your workplace, as well as being a necessary aspect of specific fire safety guidance.
Everyone has different responsibilities regarding fire safety and risk management in the workplace. Employers or business owners are responsible for keeping everyone safe whilst they’re at work, but employees are also responsible for following fire safety procedures in the workplace so that they keep themselves and their colleagues safe.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) is the main piece of legislation in the UK that concerns fire safety in the workplace. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 also covers topics of risk management and fire safety as does the Fire Safety Act 2021.
The three key elements of a fire safety management system are risk assessment, risk removal or reduction, and an emergency fire evacuation plan. By ensuring that all of these are included when you’re developing a fire safety plan, you can feel confident that you have introduced appropriate fire safety procedures in the workplace that will keep everyone involved safe from fires.
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 for Fire Marshals and Wardens Training Package’ that covers a wide range of topics relating to fire safety.