Whilst people being aware of fire safety is a great way to protect against fire in a property, it has to be said that the fire safety equipment that is on-site is also going to go a long way for safeguarding lives and property too.
To offer all-around protection, there are several different pieces of fire safety equipment that you can choose to install on your premises and allow people to use against fire when one is identified.
Another part of fire safety relates to adhering to the UK fire safety regulations. These regulations, are there to ensure that non-residential buildings are focusing on fire safety and are aware of how to keep staff and visitors as safe as possible whilst they are in work.
The regulations cover a wide variety of different aspects of fire safety. This includes:
If you do not adhere to these regulations, then you may find that your licence can be removed for your building, or use of certain parts of it. You may even, if the incident is serious enough, face imprisonment, which is a serious outcome.
The best way to keep yourself safe from fire is to do your best to prevent and protect against it. Fire protection and prevention can come in a variety of forms and it will always be focused on taking a proactive approach rather than a reactive one (although reactive fire safety must also be a feature as this is what will be used to ensure that people are evacuated promptly).
The idea of fire protection and prevention is that it is there to minimise potential fire hazards and help to protect people.
Fire prevention is there to ensure that the chance of fire breaking out is reduced and along with this, the chance of fire spreading through a building is lower.
Fire protection ensures that those people within the building are going to be able to get out of the building safely and with minimal threat to them.
Both of these are important and should not be ignored. Together they can create a complete approach to fire safety in your workplace.
When it comes to fire safety in the UK for business premises the most important legislation to be aware of is The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This was designed to include a variety of other regulations and laws that already existed but were complicated to understand and spread out over several health and safety regulations.
This particular Order relates to non-domestic properties. During 2022 the Fire Safety England Regulations were also created to help to further add to fire protection and safety in premises around the UK.
Business owners, managers and those who work in health and safety within the business are all responsible for the implementation of adequate fire protection measures, as are any employees that are assigned to be either a fire marshal or a fire warden within the business setting.
Together, these people must ensure that there are adequate fire protection measures in place that will keep everyone within the business safe. This includes risk assessments, fire safety policies and procedures and the maintenance of the equipment within the building too.
One of the most common forms of fire safety equipment that you can have installed in your business premises is fire extinguisher. Most of us will recognise the usual standard type of fire extinguishers that we are used to seeing in our places of work, however, what we may not realise is that different types of fire extinguishers can be used for different types of fires.
It is vitally important that you use the right type of fire extinguisher based on the fire hazard that you are presented with. This is because each one is designed to extinguish that particular type of fire safely. They will contain different types of materials within them and these are what are going to put out the fire the best depending on what the root cause could be.
If you do not use the right type of fire extinguisher for the type of fire that you have, then you run the risk of not only not being able to put out the fire, but you may even making the entire fire worse and put more people at risk,
There are 5 different types of fire extinguishers that you can have in your workplace. You may only have one of them, you may have all of them, it depends on what type of premises you have, the work that you do and the types of risk that are most associated with you as a business.
The main types of fire extinguishers include:
Each of the fire extinguishers has classification codes that can relate to the type of fires that they can put out.
It is important to recognise these classification codes because they not only increase your chance of putting out the fire, but they also will stop the issue of the fire being made worse, or putting the person in danger.
Suitable for fires involving ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, textiles, and plastics.
Corresponding fire extinguisher code: A
Designed for fires involving flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and paints.
Corresponding fire extinguisher code: B
Intended for fires involving flammable gases like propane, butane, and methane.
Corresponding fire extinguisher code: C
Used for fires involving combustible metals like magnesium, sodium, and potassium.
Corresponding fire extinguisher code: D
Suitable for fires involving cooking oils and fats, commonly found in kitchens.
Corresponding fire extinguisher code: F
Specifically designed for fires involving electrical equipment and appliances
This is not a formal classification but is often considered part of the overall fire safety considerations.
Water Extinguishers: Used for Class A fires involving ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, textiles, and plastics.
Foam Extinguishers: Suitable for Class A and Class B fires involving flammable liquids like gasoline, oil, and paints.
Powder Extinguishers: Effective for Class A, Class B, and Class C fires involving flammable gases like propane, butane, and methane, as well as flammable liquids.
CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) Extinguishers: Designed for electrical fires and flammable liquid fires
Wet Chemical extinguishers are primarily used for Class F fires involving cooking oils and fats in commercial kitchens.
To ensure that you only ever use the right fire extinguisher for the related type of fire, it is important that your extinguishers are properly labelled and that the labels are always visible. This means that those who go to use the extinguisher will be able to ascertain which one they will be able to use.
The responsibility for using a fire extinguisher typically falls on individuals who are trained in its proper use, such as employees in workplaces, building occupants, or anyone who might encounter a fire situation.
Just like any piece of equipment, fire extinguishers of all types need regular inspections and maintenance.
Fire extinguishers, over time, can degrade and stop working as effectively as they may need to. This means that they need to be fixed or replaced. The only way to pick up on the fact that this needs to happen is with a routine inspection and then any subsequent maintenance that comes out of the inspection.
These inspections will help you to discover what you may need to do to make the fire extinguishers work for you and ensure that they are going to be able to put out the fire when they are used.
You must record when you checked the extinguisher. This could be on the inspection tag if there is one, or on the record that you keep.
Whilst some of the checks can be carried out by you in the workplace, some things need to be dealt with by certified professionals. If the process requires a professional, then you need to make sure that you get them in and that you work with them to ensure that the things that need to be improved on, are improved on.
When a fire has been identified or is suspected everyone on the premises must find a way to get out of the building safely and quickly. This may require an evacuation alarm.
Evacuator alarms ensure that everyone knows that there is an emergency and that they need to get out of the building. They work in a variety of ways, depending on the nature of the work that is carried out and the type of premises that they are in too.
Evacuation alarms are designed to ensure that it is easier to evacuate people from the building. This means that if you install them on your premises, they can quickly become a key part of your emergency evacuation plan.
They will often be the first alert in the case of a fire, the alert that signals to those within the building that there is a fire and that they need to evacuate quickly.
Fire safety should be something that becomes an everyday part of your working day, something that everyone should recognise and be aware of, after all, a fire can happen at any point. Therefore it should always be something that is looked at.
It is advisable to ensure that any workplace safety policies that are created for your workplace include fire safety equipment. That way you will not overlook your fire safety equipment and ensure that it is checked over and maintained frequently.
Another key aspect of implementing effective fire safety protocols in your business is ensuring that your employees are properly trained on the use of fire extinguishers and evacuator alarms. You need to ensure that everyone, not just those who are responsible for fire safety is aware of how to use them so that in an emergency there are as many people as possible who can use them and try to stop the fire from spreading and becoming worse.
The best way to make sure that everyone in your business understands what to do in a fire is to conduct regular fire drills. These are designed to be practice runs of what would happen in the event of a fire and should be treated as such.
They will ensure that everyone knows what to listen to or look out for when it comes to a fire being identified or suspected and where they need to be when they have left the building.
Regular fire drills will help everyone to feel more settled when it comes to what will happen during an evacuation and will make them less likely to panic. This will help the entire process to go much smoother in a real-life situation.
Things change over time and fire safety is no different. There are always new ways to ensure that people are kept safe within a business and that there are proper prevention measures taken against potential fires in the future.
Technology is always there to make our lives as easy as possible and this is also the same case with fire safety and protection. There are always new pieces of tech being developed to help with fire safety.
Some of the emerging technology that has been seen in fire safety includes intelligent fire detection and suppression systems as well as smart building automation too. Another way that technology is changing fire safety is with the way that training is developed. There have been some instances of VR training being delivered to employees, which gives them a new insight into how fire safety should look in the workplace.
IoT stands for the Internet of Things, which is a collective network of devices that are all connected using the Internet and the cloud too. They can exchange information between them. This makes it easier to control multiple alarms and aspects of your fire protection system because they will all be controlled by the same base device or system.
Another benefit of these IoT-based systems is that they can communicate remotely when a fire is suspected or detected, they can alert the emergency services so that they can get there quickly, and, if no one is there on-site, they can also alert the user/owner to the fire.
Businesses must take the steps needed to prioritise fire safety, both the equipment that can be used to stop the fire and the protocols that need to be followed to prevent the fires from happening.
They should also ensure that employees within the business are given the best chance to remain vigilant to the possible chance of fires developing, this will help to reduce the chance of fire-related incidents and protect both the people and the property.
This can be achieved with regular training and education, designed to make sure that everyone understands the key aspects of fire safety and what their responsibilities are.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (commonly referred to as the Fire Safety Order) requires that employers and building owners ensure that their employees and relevant persons (such as tenants or visitors) are provided with adequate fire safety training.
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