COVID-19 has created challenges for many across the world over the last few months. However, on a positive note it could also provide businesses with the opportunity to reassess and even improve fire safety at their premises.
The pandemic has meant organisations have had to adapt the way in which they work, most obviously the reduction of both the amount of time being spent at and number of people on the premises at any one time. But as restrictions ease and more companies welcome their colleagues back into the office, if significant health and safety changes have been made to the premises, such as re-configuring the office to accommodate social distancing for instance, these should be identified and recorded in the Fire Risk Assessment.
Other things to consider are:
1. Risk reduction: Have all reasonable measures been taken to reduce the risk of fire, such as isolating all non-essential equipment and machinery.
2. New or emerging risks: Have things been put in place as a response to the situation that have in fact increased fire risk, such as the storage of oxygen for example.Updated escape routes and/or Assembly points: Providing safe escape routes out of the building and ensuring that they are as easy to navigate as possible is one of the most important ways to keep everyone in the building safe and secure.
3. Fire alarm systems: Is the fire alarm system in good working order and has it continued to be tested regularly?
Of course, all the standard legal fire safety requirements are still in place, which means that your customers are still obligated to deal with the normal safety protocols and procedures, such as having fire extinguishers and alarms serviced and checked – particularly if they deferred these things during the lockdown period. If maintenance by a qualified engineer was delayed, this should have been recorded as a significant finding in the Fire Risk Assessment.
4. Vulnerable people: Are the most vulnerable receiving support and are Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS) being conducted and reviewed to assess individual needs/changes in their vulnerability?
5. Fire Doors. In some buildings some self-closing fire doors may now be wedged open as a Covid-19 control measure, to reduce the need to touch door handles etc. Whilst understandable, this hazard must be balanced against the risk of uncontrolled spread of fire and smoke should a fire occur. This therefore must be fully considered in the fire risk assessment. A better solution may be a Firechief Doorwarden, a wireless fire door stop which legally holds open a fire door until the fire alarm sounds.
Fire Depot has been the UK's favourite fire safety supplier for over 50 years. We are open for business and here to support you in getting your customers back to work safely. Our experienced team can offer advice and guidance about any product or fire safety application. For expert help and advice, please contact the Fire Depot team on 0330 999 2233, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.firedepot.co.uk to see our full range of fire safety products.