Fire Safety Guide

The A to Z of Fire Safety

Here’s your ultimate A to Z guide to fire safety – both in the home and in work environments. Let’s go!

Alarm Systems

All premises should be equipped with some form of fire alarm system. They generally work on the basis that if extreme heat or smoke is detected (or a manual alarm is activated), the alarm will sound to the entire building as a warning to evacuate.

There are several different types of alarm system available – it’s a good idea to contact a fire safety professional in order to discuss which would be the best option for your building.

Bafe Approved Consultants

Finding a reputable fire safety consultant to carry out any necessary assessments can be tricky.

BAFE is the British inspectorate body in the fire protection industry, developing UKAS accredited certification schemes for bodies to assess and approve companies to high British standards. You can be sure that any company with a BAFE accreditation are providing an excellent service.

Close Doors

Try to make it best practice when leaving the house, going to bed or leaving the office to close all doors behind you. This can help to stop (or at least slow down) the spread of fires and ultimately save lives should the worst happen.

If you are escaping a fire, close all doors behind you as you leave – again to stop the fire rapidly spreading into other rooms and to give you those extra crucial minutes to get out.

Detectors

Smoke detectors are inexpensive and save many lives every year. Every home should be fully equipped with as many as necessary – larger work premises are likely to need more comprehensive alarm systems installed as previously mentioned.

Carbon monoxide detectors are also available, detecting this odourless, tasteless, yet deadly gas.

Extinguishers

All workplaces should be equipped with the necessary amount of fire extinguishers. Not only this, they should be fully serviced and maintained as a vital part of your fire protection duties.

You may also want to incorporate fire extinguishers into your home safety plan. Although not completely necessary, they can give you extra peace of mind.

There are several different types of fire extinguisher available for your premises – each one suited towards the types of fire you can expect in that particular building. In order to be sure that this is a piece of equipment you can rely on, it is crucial that you choose the right one. A fire safety professional be able to help you decide.

FIA

The FIA, or Fire Industry Association, is a not-for-profit trade association promoting the professional status of the UK fire safety industry

They are a great recourse for finding out the latest goings on in the UK fire industry, including legislations and how they could affect your business. They also provide advice, links, resources, training courses and a quarterly magazine that covers everything fire safety related.

Visit their site here

Guidelines

Fire safety guidelines are put in place so you know exactly what you should be doing as a business when it comes to fire safety. Following these guidelines will keep you out of any legal trouble that can face people who don’t adhere to legal obligations and requirements.

There are general government fire safety guidelines, but you may find a specific set depending on your business. For example guidelines for landlords, guidelines for councillors etc.

Hazards around the home or workplace

Whether at home or in the workplace, you should always be aware of anything that could be a potential hazard in terms of igniting fire.

Many items can be hazardous if you’re not careful. Electrical items for example can overheat, so any flammable materials close by can easily catch fire. Exposed or frayed wiring should always be reported and dealt with accordingly and be especially careful with around fireplaces and heaters.

You should also look our for any objects obstructing escape routes – anything in the way should be removed immediately

IFSM

The ‘Institute of Fire Safety Managers’ or IFSM is a professional body of highly respected individuals and companies whose aim is to raise awareness of fire safety issues at a local, national and international level. They “promote fire prevention, protection and reducing the risk from fire as far as reasonable practicable”

They are a useful resource for the latest related news, legislations, standards, and they are renown for their great conferences and training events.

If you are a fire professional like us, this site is a must visit.Click here.

Kitchen Hazards

The kitchen holds many fire hazards. Be it in the home or in the work place, this is one room in which we need to be extra cautious. Think hobs, ovens, electrical appliances, hot oil – there is doubting that there are countless opportunities for unexpected fires to ignite and here’s just a few things to bear in mind.

Check for frayed or worn wires and cords – if an item is broken or showing signs of age, don’t continue to use it. Be careful when using the hob and as soon as you are finished using it, turn it off. Keep any pan handles facing away from you to prevent you accidentally knocking them, or children reaching up.

Avoid wearing loose items of clothing whilst using a stove – these can catch fire easily and quickly. If you have many cooking appliances on the go at the same time, keep your eye on everything and never leave the room unattended.

Landlords

Landlords hold the responsibility of keeping their tenants safe and secure from the risks of fire in their property. Responsibilities and legal obligations however can be unclear in terms of fire risk assessments, necessary equipment and policies.

Total Fire Services MD recently answered 3 big questions for popular landlord information website ‘The Landlord Zone’. These included ‘Do I need a fire risk assessment?’, ‘How regularly do I need to update my fire risk assessment?’ and ‘Can I carry out my own fire risk assessment?’ – read the full post and answers to these questions here.

Marshalls

All businesses should have designated fire marshalls who are fully trained in what to do in the event of a fire.

The role of the marshall can generally be split into two main responsibilities; prevention of fire hazards and common duties should the building need to be evacuated.

Fire safety training opportunities could be in the form of a course/seminar, or even online courses that can be completed in the trainees own time.

Notices

Fire safety notices offer a clear visual guidance to staff members, and any members of the general public regarding things such as fire assembly points, evacuation plans, fire equipment instructions and action points.

These should be displayed clearly and in the appropriate places, and are essential for businesses to minimise the risk of accidents and ensure people are safe should a fire break out.

Overloading Sockets

Overloading plug sockets is easily done and adaptors are readily available. In many cases it is okay to have several items plugged into the same power socket but there are some instances whereby it can be extremely dangerous. Different appliances use different amounts of power, and as a general rule of thumb, you should never use more than 13 amps, or 3000 watts of energy in one socket.

Use Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s socket overload calculator to see if you are overloading, and when it is safe to plug in several items at a time.

http://www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/fire_safety_advice/socket_calculator.aspx

Plan Escape Routes and Procedures

Comprehensive escape routes are extremely important and should be designed to ensure that anyone, anywhere within the building is able to get away from a fire and congregate in a safe place away from the building.

Escape routes should be planned so that people can get out of a building unaided, however there will be some cases whereby people will need help from other members of staff so this is something to bear in mind when planning. A fire risk assessment and help from professionals will be able to help and ensure escape routes are adequate.

Quick Escape

If a fire breaks out within the home or work place, a quick escape is vital. Don’t waste precious time collecting belongings – evacuate the building immediately and as safely as possible. Always check the heat of doors before opening them – if you suspect fire is on the other side, think about your alternate escape route.

Risk Assessments

All places of work must carry out a thorough fire risk assessment. These are designed to assess your premises for fire risk and hazards, and who may be at risk from such hazards. Once this has been identified, these risks must be evaluated, and all significant findings recorded and documented.

Constant monitoring must then be carried out on a regular basis to ensure fire safety standards remain high.

For more information, click here.

Smoking

Smoking poses a serious fire risk, and cigarettes are a leading cause of fatal fires. If you are a smoker, remain cautious and install the necessary amount of fire alarms. Keep your smoking materials away from anything flammable, and dispose of your cigarette in the correct manner.

Keep all smoking materials high and out of reach from children – don’t put yourself, your loved ones and the people around you at risk.

Test test test!

There is no use having smoke alarms and detectors installed within the home or workplace if they are not in working order. Aim to test alarms once a week – it only takes a few seconds and could seriously save lives somewhere down the line.

Try to set aside a scheduled time within the week or month to test alarms. If you suspect an alarm is not working, replace the battery or seek help from a professional if the alarm has broken altogether.

Unplug appliances

As best practice, try to unplug any small appliances when you aren’t using them. They can pose a fire hazard even when not in use. Unplug from the plug itself and not the cord

Visibility

Many businesses opt for emergency lighting installation, which is lighting for emergency situations in which the main power supply is cut (eg. Fire). This will ensure maximum visibility should the worst happen and people need to evacuate the building.

Emergency lighting needs to be fully automated and provide sufficient lighting so that people of all ages can see and negotiate escape routes safely and clearly.

Workplace Safety

As an employer, you are responsible for fire safety within the building, and there are several things that the responsible person is required to do by law under the Fire Safety Order.

This includes ensuring a fire risk assessment is carried out and updated when necessary, implementing a comprehensive fire escape plan and informing all staff members, and providing fire safety training and information to new starters.

Xmas Fire Safety

Christmas festivities pose extra fire hazards that we all should be aware of. For example, decorations, candles, fairy lights, Christmas trees – all things that we can get carried away with and forget about the extra risks they hold.

Zzz – sleep safely

Many fires start at night. Before you go off to bed, have a safety routine that consists of turning off then unplugging all electrical appliances, making sure your living room fire is out, closing the doors to all rooms and making sure keys to doors and windows are easily accessible should you have to evacuate.

This way, you and your family can sleep safely

We hope you’ve found this ultimate guide to fire safety a useful one – stay safe!

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