Fire Risk Assessment
Is your business fire risk assessment suitable and sufficient? Being asked this question, as the nominated responsible person for a building, may be hard to answer if you have carried out a fire risk assessment yourself with limited knowledge of fire safety provision. It may conversely be easy to answer ‘yes’, but how confident are you?
I suppose that if you have a basic knowledge of fire safety, for example an understanding of the ‘fire triangle’, and you have been on a fire marshal or fire safety course, then you could complete a basic fire risk reduction exercise within your business, separating combustible materials from ignition sources, removing large amounts of waste, checking fire extinguishers etc. etc. etc. But going back to the initial question, is your business fire risk assessment suitable and sufficient, if this is all you have considered, then probably the answer would be ‘no’.
Means of Escape
Primarily and most importantly fire safety is about reducing the risk to life first and property damage second. With this in mind, ‘Means of Escape’ becomes the lynch pin of fire safety in buildings. You must ensure that all escape routes can be safely and effectively used at all material times.
You must consider the size, design, construction and contents of your premise, the nature of works being carried out as well as most importantly your staff. Questions you may ask could be:
- How many staff/people who occupy the building, do you have?
- How old are they?
- What is their state of health?
- What are the physical and mental abilities of your staff or people who occupy the building?
When you are assessing escape routes there are also other things to consider, such as ‘what is an acceptable escape route?’ and ‘what isn’t acceptable?’. How familiar are the people in the building with the workplace, for example do you have an ’employees only’ work environment or do you have regular visitors, members of the public or residents? Can everyone escape without assistance?
You should identify all the potential fire hazards in the premise and take into account the location of people within the building should a fire occur and then consider the number of alternative exit routes which may be available.
Some examples of unacceptable means of escape are lifts, operating escalators, portable, vertical or throw out ladders, self rescue devices and window exits to name but a few.
Is your business fire risk assessment suitable and sufficient?
Suddenly, you may be asking yourself ‘is our fire risk assessment suitable and sufficient?’.
We have only briefly skimmed over the ‘Means of Escape’ and looked at a few questions that you need to ask whilst carrying out your fire risk assessment. There are a host of other considerations to be made whilst carrying out a fire risk assessment such as compartmentation, fire resisting construction and fire stopping, travel distances to final exits, occupancy levels, fire doors, alarm systems, security…….. the list goes on and on.
Where can I find advice?
If you have any questions (there are always questions!), there are useful guides provided at Gov.UK.
SWS are fire safety specialists with over 15 years experience. If you would like advice or just a chat about your fire safety within your business, please contact us at:
email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone – 07763 003 998
Web – www.safeworkforcesolutions.co.uk
Author – Matt Smith