Fire and Rescue services across the country are calling on bar and restaurant owners to make sure they are operating safely and adhering to fire safety regulations ahead of planned re-openings this weekend.
Many pubs, bars and restaurants have had to make changes to the internal layout of their premises including adding partitions, creating seating areas outside and implementing other security measures to become ‘COVID-secure’. This has meant the Fire and Rescue Service working alongside local authorities to carry out inspections of licenced premises to ensure they are conforming to fire regulations and that social distancing measures are not having an adverse impact on fire safety.
Brian Massie, Station Manager at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Fire Protection Department, said: “We understand that pub landlords, bar owners and restauranteurs will be keen to re-open their doors to the public after a long period of closure, but it’s really important that business owners continue to prioritise the fire safety of the business, the safety of the people working there and those visiting their establishment.
“Many premises will have had to change the way they operate as a result of government guidance, including changing the layout of tables and chairs and the introduction of partitions where necessary. But these changes should be done in a way that does not significantly impact on fire safety – escape routes should still be kept clear and designated fire exits should not be blocked by furniture or excess stock. It’s also really important that any outdoor seating or tables are not positioned on fire hydrants.
“Many businesses will still be experiencing reductions in staffing levels so it’s vital that premises have the adequate amount of competent people who understand the fire safety measures that have been put in place – do your staff know what to do in the event of a fire? Do they know how to check the fire alarm is working, where firefighting equipment is kept and how to use it safely, how and where to evacuate? Remember – coronavirus is not an excuse for disregarding your responsibilities. A fire could call last orders on your premises for good.”
There are a number of important steps that businesses can take to reduce the risk of fire:
COMPETENT PERSONS: Ensure you have an adequate number of competent persons to help in the implementation of preventative and protective fire safety measures. If you have absent staff you must ensure that there are adequately trained staff on-site at all times, to ensure the fire safety measures are not adversely affected.
PROTECTION FROM ARSON:
– Make sure your business premises are secure out of hours
– Any combustible materials should be removed from site or stored securely
– Remove or store all rubbish securely away from the premises
– Keep all entrances and exits clear at all times
– Stock should not be kept in excessive amounts
– Lighting, CCTV and fencing will deter criminals
FIRE SAFETY TESTING: Onsite fire safety provisions should be tested regularly. This includes carrying out alarm tests and fire drills.
FIREFIGHTING EQUIPMENT: Check fire extinguishers are present and still within their service date.
ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT: Ensure all electrical equipment is in safe working order, with suitable testing and visual inspections.
KEEP THINGS CLEAN: Ensure areas such as refuse, storage or process are clean and safe to use. Make sure extractor fans are free from dust.
FIRE DOORS: Do NOT prop open fire doors, even if this is intended to minimise contact between staff and door handles. Businesses should follow Public Health Advice around regularly washing hands for 20 seconds or more to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
LONE WORKING: With a reduced workforce, there may be an increased likelihood of people working alone within buildings. You need to ensure that these people are provided with adequate warning in case of fire so they do not become trapped.
FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT: It may be necessary to review your fire risk assessment during this time to ensure suitable and sufficient measures are in place. Further information on your fire risk assessments can be found at https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments
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