Did you know?

Fire safety has always been important, since the great fire of London to more recent events such as Grenfell.

The fire and rescue services in England attended over 70,000 primary fires between April 2018 and March 2019. A primary fire is one that meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • occurred in a (non-derelict) building, vehicle or outdoor structure, or
  • involved a fatality, casualty or rescue, or
  • were attended by five or more pumping appliances.

Over the years, the number of primary fires has been falling. But fires in workplaces and residential properties still happen with devastating effects on both people’s lives, homes and businesses.

Here are some simple steps to take to make your business safer.

A good starting point is to arrange a fire risk assessment: A competent person can work with you to look at the main fire risks in your workplace; what you can do to reduce the chance of fires starting and minimise the impact if it does.

Here are some of the leading causes of fire

  • Faulty or unsafe electrical equipment – This covers the fixed installation (sockets, wiring, lighting, etc.) and portable appliances. Defects include damaged or exposed the wiring and overloaded outlets or circuits.
  • Inadequate cleaning – Inadequate cleaning allows grease and dust to accumulate within machinery. The dust and dirt are a fuel source and can impair ventilation, which may cause the machinery to overheat, providing the source of ignition.
  • Combustible materials – Allowing flammable materials to accumulate provides a source of fuel and increases the risk of a fire starting and rapidly developing.
  • Human error – Fires may start due to people not using the equipment correctly, which may be due to not being authorised or trained. Another common problem is hazardous equipment being left unattended.
  • Negligence – Inadequate maintenance and inspection allow the condition of work equipment to deteriorate. Lack of supervision will enable operators’ bad habits to develop.
  • Arson – Fires that are started deliberately by vandals or disgruntled former or current employees.

How to reduce the risks of fire hazards

  • Maintain electrical equipment
    • Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is the routine inspection of some types of electrical appliances by a competent person to check they are safe to use. Its purpose is to prevent faulty equipment in the workplace, causing electrical accidents. The frequency of fixed electrical and PAT inspections is dependent on risk. Appliances, such as computer monitors that hardly ever move do not need testing as often as more portable items like kettles and used in a wet environment.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE HSE GUIDANCE ON PAT TESTING

    • Fixed Electrical test– carried out on all of the electrical installation and systems in your property, e.g. Main panels, distribution boards, fuse boards, protective devices, lighting, protective devices, etc.  The frequency of testing depends on the type of building.
    • Other work equipment – Other work equipment that requires maintenance and inspection includes gas appliances such as catering equipment, boilers, water heaters, etc.
    • Good housekeeping – Keep workplace clean and tidy and fire safety equipment readily accessible. Ensure combustible/flammable items are stored away from potential sources of ignition. Ensure that flammable chemicals are securely stored to prevent unauthorised use.
    • Install appropriate fire safety equipment – smoke and heat detectors should be installed throughout the majority of commercial buildings.  A Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) should be used to decide what fire safety equipment and passive fire protection measures should be installed.

Management actions

    • Training and instruction – Because roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined. Employees and contractors should be inducted and have regular refresher training,  and there should be regular fire drills.  Specialist fire marshal training should be provided for selected members of staff about routine checks that help prevent fires, and so they know what to do in an emergency.
    • Carry out an FRA – Ensure that a suitable and sufficient FRA is carried out by a competent person, who should provide any significant findings and actions.  A Fire Risk Assessment will help you manage fire hazards in your workplace and achieve a good standard of fire safety within your business.

Terra Firma 360 can help you by providing a fire risk assessment. Get in touch for a friendly chat today.

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