Fire Safety Duties and Responsibilities
What are your fire safety responsibilities? From carrying out risk assessments, to creating a watertight evacuation plan, fire safety should be a priority.
Fire safety regulations require all employers, owners, landlords and occupiers to be a ‘responsible person’ to ensure that these regulations are upheld in both domestic and commercial premises. In cases where there is more than one responsible person, they should work together to achieve the obligations set out by law.
If you are putting together a fire safety plan for your business, then you’ll need to develop a watertight plan to ensure the security of all occupants within the building. Whether you’re moving to new premises, starting a new business or wish to overhaul your existing fire safety plan to achieve better compliancy with the regulations, here are some points to consider.
Carrying Out A Fire Risk Assessment
A responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment to determine where any vulnerabilities may lie. This involves observing the current layout and functionality of your workplace, identifying any weaknesses and putting immediate measures into effect to mitigate against these risks. Businesses with more than five employees must record and document these findings, but all organisations should regularly review and reassess.
Clear Evacuation Route
As part of your plan, you must be able to determine a clear, unobstructed route of escape for all personnel within the building. In the event of a fire, all escape routes including fire exits should be clearly marked to allow for a rapid evacuation. Fire exits should always be a short distance away from any point within the premises for added safety.
Internal fire rated doors are essential in allowing enough time for all occupants of a building to escape from a fire. They can allow 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes of time and withstand temperatures of up to 1,100 degrees Celsius. This provides plenty of time for an evacuation but also assists firefighters in containing a fire and preserving the remainder of the building.
Firefighting and safety equipment
In the event of a fire, you should plan for a scenario where occupants may need to fight the fire themselves, rather than waiting for the emergency services to arrive. In this case, they should have access to firefighting equipment which should be readily available at labelled locations throughout the building. You might include fire extinguishers and blankets as part of your firefighting equipment. However, don’t forget about safety signage and emergency lighting too.
Training All Personnel
Your safety plan will only ever be as good as the people who know about it. So, once you’ve created an effective and robust fire safety plan, it’s important that you share this with all occupants of the building. This means providing adequate training about the steps you expect them to take in the event of a fire. They should know exactly where all the fire exits and emergency equipment are located, as well as understanding where the meeting points are, at a safe distance from the business premises.
Inclusive Fire Safety Plan
Your fire safety plan should accommodate for those with disabilities or anyone who may need extra assistance in an emergency situation. This requires you to draw up a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan which might include the use of braille, BSL or large print to assist in understanding evacuation procedures. You might include vibrating alarms or flashing lights to accompany a main fire alarm to assist those who with difficulties in seeing or hearing.
Penalties of up to £5,000 for minor offences or up to two years in prison could be applicable for businesses who don’t meet the necessary regulations.