As businesses focus, quite rightly, on staying COVID-secure and meeting the many challenges that come with trying to run an organisation during a pandemic, it can be easy to let your everyday facilities management fall down your To Do list.
Here, we’ve pulled together a list of key mistakes you could be making when it comes to fire safety as other challenges take priority, different restrictions come and go, and day-to-day operations take a back seat to meeting Coronavirus measures.
1. Not staying fire safety compliant
It’s vital that you adhere to the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 and carry out a Fire Risk Assessment for your site, document risks, and follow through with any works or procedures the Fire Risk Assessment highlights. This should be done ideally every 12 months, but you may need to carry out more regular audits as things change in your buildings due to Coronavirus directives – it’s vital that you take into account reduced employee numbers in the premises which may mean less trained fire wardens on site, and fire procedures should be reviewed with this in mind.
2. Not Having an adequate Fire Alarm system
Whether installed to protect a building (P categories) or lives (L categories) a fire alarm system can keep your business, staff & people safe. 80% of business fail to reopen sufficiently after a major fire or go out of business all-together.
Nobody wants to be responsible for someone losing their life when it could have been prevented by installing the appropriate & adequate fire alarm system. Doing so will also mean that your building and the people in the building are protected and you’re complying to current legislations & regulations in relation to fire.
3. Not Having Fire protection equipment serviced
Failing to stay up to date with service visits means you aren’t complying with the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order 2005 (check out paragraph 17) and therefore you are falling foul of legislation and could either be shut down, fined, prosecuted or all three.
It’s imperative that you know that your fire protection equipment is in good working order meaning that the premises but more importantly life is protected.
4. Not testing your Fire Alarm weekly
A weekly test of the fire alarm should be carried out using a different call point each time as best practice. Setting a specific time and day to carry out the test, for example at 10am every Wednesday morning, would be an effective way to make sure everyone is comfortable with processes, and avoid any panic if a real emergency hits.
5. Not carrying out regular fire alarm drills
You should carry out a fire alarm drill at least every 12 months, however, depending on your fire risk assessment this may be required every three months. It is important that people know what to do in the event of an actual fire at the premises – especially if the layout has changed across your premises due to Coronavirus measures.
Allowances should also be made for shift work, as every employee should know the procedures and where the fire assembly points are.
6. Not using a Fire Log Book
Your Responsible Person for fire safety should keep a record of every weekly test, false alarm activation and fire alarm activation, as well as documenting when fire protection equipment was last serviced and maintained.
7. Not having Fire Zone and ‘As Fitted’ charts
All sites should have an ‘as fitted’ and zone chart drawing to comply with regulations and legislation. These can help the fire brigade to quickly identify which part of the building a fire has broken out in. Plus, in a false alarm activation they can assist the fire warden for your site in knowing where it is.
8. Not having Fire Alarm Folder
Having a fire alarm folder is useful, as you can keep your fire risk assessment, fire alarm design, specification, commission records and log book all in one place. This means any auditor, fire risk assessors, fire companies or fire wardens who need this information can find it quickly when needed – saving valuable admin time and helping ensure your alarms are always up-to-date and fit for purpose.
9. Not Keeping corridors and escape routes clear
Blocked corridors and escape routes can have disastrous consequences. Not only does clutter pose a fire risk in itself, it also puts people in danger as they evacuate – and of course can prevent evacuation altogether in an emergency.
It’s also extremely important to check all final fire doors are fuctional and unlocked in case of emergency (while keeping internal fire doors closed in order for them to serve their compartmentation purpose)..
10. Not having Automatic Opening Vents
AOV smoke ventilation through automatic roof vents in a residential, schools, student, care home or hotel can help reduce the impact of smoke inhalation and also help in the prevention or spreading fire. Installation depends on building regulations and the findings of your fire risk assessment, so it’s important to speak to an expert about the function and suitability of smoke ventilation units in your specific premises.
At JLA, we can carry out one-off checks, or provide ongoing service contracts for complete peace of mind regardless of Coronavirus restrictions. We can also complete fire risk assessments to give you a full picture of the risks in your premises.