Over the past couple of years, health and safety has been at the core of our day-to-day lives. But while some aspects have been taking a lead role in how we go about our business, or affecting our working lives, other aspects have been getting put on the backburner. One of these is fire safety, which by no means should be less important now than before.
In the Big Cities
According to the government released statistics from the FIRE0102 document, Fire Rescue Services in the UK attended 145,208 fires in the year ending September 2021; this accounts for 27% of the total 537,039 attended incidents of all kinds (non-fire and false alarms making up the remainder). Larger cities, such as Manchester, account for larger portions; Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service recorded 27,717 of the total incidents above just in the Greater Manchester area alone. Nearly half of this statistic nationwide is attributed to false alarm calls, mostly caused either by faulty equipment or mistaken/misidentified fires.
There are a number of things you can do to help reduce the number of false alarm calls, both in your business and at home, while keeping on top of good fire safety protocol, even within Covid regulations and lockdown restrictions.
Call Points – Regular Testing
In the office, there should be fire alarm call points dotted around that should be used to trigger the alarm if a fire is discovered. Ensuring that these are functioning correctly is imperative; not being able to raise the alarm in time because of a faulty call point could mean the difference between life and death.
Make sure that all call points are tested on a regular basis; depending on your business sector and building size and layout, this can differ greatly, but as a general rule shouldn’t be any less frequent than one per week. That way, if any call points are not functioning as they should, they can be identified and serviced within a good amount of time, before any major incidents can occur.
Maintenance – Keeping Track
Fire safety equipment maintenance can be tricky to keep track of, especially with different pieces of equipment requiring attention at different times of year. However, with the right documentation, it doesn’t need to be a pain.
Ensure that you have the appropriate fire extinguishers in the correct areas as they are required within your business, and that they are labelled and serviced regularly; that way they are ready in the unfortunate case of an emergency. Additionally, keeping records on fire exit paths and doors and keeping them clear of obstructions is vital in the case of emergencies. If they are blocked, it could become a serious problem.
Also, while keeping the systems in good functionality, it’s just as important to make sure that the users of said systems are fully trained and regularly refreshed on the safe and correct use of the systems in order to ensure that procedures are properly followed if needs be. Schedule regular refresher training for staff and keep the information pertaining to safe use of systems readily available to all employees at all times.
Keeping on top of the documentation for all the above can become tricky the larger the business is: why not take a look at investing in an online checks and policies system? By localising all of your health and safety checks and reports in one place, keeping on top of your safety obligations is made a considerable amount easier.
During the past couple of years, a number of business have implemented various measures in order to prevent the spread of the virus: working from home, social distancing, and physical barriers/screens. Due to the suddenness of the requirements of these measures, health and safety assessments should be undertaken regularly in order to ensure that they are being implemented as safely as possible, with minimal impact to other safety aspects. For example, covid screens being installed which in turn restrict air flow through intakes and vents could cause any number of issues, including fire risks, in the long or short term and should therefore be monitored carefully.
Regular assessments should be carried out to cover all of these bases, and to keep everyone safe with the addition of the Covid safety measures. It’s also imperative that any issues, no matter how small, are raised and addressed appropriately in order to ensure the safety of not only employees, but contractors, visitors, and customers as well. Overall, keeping fire safe through Covid shouldn’t have to be any more difficult than pre-Covid, as long as regulations and assessments are carried out and adhered to carefully.
We hope that this article has shed some light on some of the ways to keep things running smoothly throughout this strange and trying time!