by Stuart Collyer on 05.16.2017
Every business, regardless of what they do and how many people they hire, has to reduce the risk of fire as much as practically possible, whilst also having precautions in place should a fire ever start.
It’s one of the best ways of ensuring the longevity of your business, but more importantly, it means your staff and customers are as safe as possible.
And if you need another reason, complying with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is a legal requirement. Failure to do so often results in hefty fines, and sometimes even jail time.
Thankfully, it isn’t as difficult as you may think to make sure your franchise is as safe as practically possible.It All Starts With a Fire Risk Assessment
No two businesses are the same, even franchises, and if the things they do are the same, the environment those things are completed in is different.
As such, the best way to fully understand your business and the risks within it is to complete a fire risk assessment.
70% of businesses which suffer a major fire either never reopen or subsequently fail within three years. So don’t delay ensuring your business is fire-ready.
And although you only need to have a written record of it when you hire five or more people, it’s still good practice. How else are you going to prove that you’re fulfilling your obligations as a responsible business owner?Spot the Hazards
Walk around your business and make a note of all the things in your premises which could start a fire, and all the things which could burn. Or in other words, possible sources of ignition and fuel.
Electrical equipment, heaters, cookers, and naked flames could all cause a fire. That’s why it is important to have equipment serviced and maintained by professionals. And it’s also why you should keep these items well away from items which could burn.
Examples of things which could burn include piles of boxes full of stock; paper; cloth; rubbish; and furniture, as well as flammable liquids and gases.Identify Those at Risk
There are potentially lots of people who could possibly be in your business premises if a fire were to start. Staff and customers are obvious but don’t forget about contractors, delivery drivers, and other visitors.
On top of that, also consider people who could be in the immediate area. Think of those in properties above or beside you, and members of the public walking past.
Provisions need to be in place for those who may need assistance in making their escape. Children, the elderly and the disabled may need someone to help them down stairs, for example.Evaluate and Act
You now need to take action to remedy the risks and to have appropriate precautions in place.
Fire detection is vital, and you need it to warn everyone in unison as quickly as possible, which is what fire alarm systems are great at doing. And don’t forget to sign the emergency exit route and doors, and to provide emergency lighting if needed.
Fire extinguishers are also really important, and you have to make sure they are correct for the risks they’re designed to counter.
For fires involving paper, cardboard, rubbish and furnishings, a water extinguisher is fine but is not safe to use near electrical equipment.
Foam is similar but is also suitable for use on flammable liquids. As for a powder extinguisher, it can be used for flammable gases in addition to the previous, and is safe for use near electrical items. However, be aware that it can affect visibility and breathing.
On electrical equipment, CO2 extinguishers are the safest, and they’ll also prevent the electronics being damaged further. And on a fire involving a deep fat fryer, wet chemical extinguishers are the ONLY type which are safe to use.
But also don’t forget about installing a fire blanket in kitchen areas. They can effectively put out a small fire without any drama or mess.Record, Plan, and Train
Next, you need to put together a plan for what everyone should do in the event of a fire: What’s the best route out to the assembly point? Where is the assembly point? Who are the fire wardens? Who is going to call the fire brigade? And a lot more besides.
Just like a business needs trained first aiders, you also need to have fire wardens. Once they’ve had the correct training, they’ll be able to help promote good fire safety, hold fire drills, and calmly take charge in an emergency.
Fire drills are the best way of testing that your fire action plan works, and it’s the best way to discover any issues with it now rather than when it’s too late. But there’s also no better way for everyone to familiarise themselves with the plan.Review
Once your fire risk assessment it finished, it still needs to be kept up-to-date, even with simple changes in layout and usage. Small changes can have a big effect, which is why many fire services recommend reviewing it every year.
Although it’s relatively simple to conduct the assessment yourself, many business owners opt to have a professional risk assessor attend. It saves them time and hassle, as well as ensuring they’ve done everything possible to keep their business fire-safe.
To find out more information about fire risk assessments and fire safety equipment, visit www.fireprotectiononline.co.uk.About the Author
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