Businesses across the UK which have had to make changes due to COVID-19 are being advised to make sure fire safety remains a top priority.
The reminder comes from the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) at the start of Business Safety Week (7 – 13 September) as many businesses have had to implement new ways of working.
The everyday fire risks in the workplace still exist and the responsibility to ensure premises are safe from fire, remains. Many businesses have had to respond quickly once they were allowed to reopen and the concern is that fire safety may not have been at the forefront of planning. As part of the NFCC's Business Safety Week business owners and Responsible Persons (RPs) are being advised to ensure they review Fire Risk Assessments.
Fire Risk Assessments must be reviewed regularly to ensure they are suitable and sufficient and in the same way that they need to be reviewed as a business re-opens, should future changes be made as businesses move back to pre-lock down practices, those FRAs will again need to be reviewed.
The NFFC says businesses should also seek guidance and advice to help them keep their premises and occupants safe from fire. Businesses must consider the potential risks that the COVID secure measures - which have been required to open some premises - may in some cases, compromise fire safety measures, for example:
- Plastic screens must not obstruct smoke alarms, sprinklers or fire alarm call points
- Ensure measures to support social distancing do not impact evacuation procedures or the ability of emergency service to help you and that the Fire service can quickly access your building in the event of a fire
- Ensure you have enough trained staff on duty to manage evacuation procedures
- If lockdown disrupted the maintenance of fire safety systems, service engineer should now be contacted in order to review them and resume a regular schedule of testing and checks.
- Protect your business from arson
- Help your fire service by reducing false alarms - which currently accounts for about 40% of all emergency calls
Mark Andrews of the NFCC said: " It's been a difficult and challenging time for so many people, and Fire and Rescue Services want to make sure that as businesses address changes needed in response to Covid-19, they remain fire safe. Fire can have a devastating impact on business with many never recovering after an incident. We are here to support businesses if they need advice and guidance so we ask them to review Fire Risk Assessments and help us to keep your business working safety."
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