Fire Safety: General Fire Hazards
Since the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, the pressure and attention around fire safety regulations, for landlords and business owners especially, has been magnified. The reality is that most fires are preventable, and those responsible for the buildings and workplaces which have public access can avoid any fires but adopting the correct procedures and behaviours. As an employer, landlord, occupier, or owner of a business or residential property, you’re responsible for the fire safety of the premise, so it’s vital you’re aware of general fire safety and basic hazards.
This article will cover general fire safety advice and basic guidance on the hazards in your building that may cause the fires.
General Fire Safety Hazards:
For a fire to start, it needs three things; an ignition source (heat), a fuel source, and oxygen.
- Ignition sources are things like heaters, lighting, electrical equipment, naked flames, cigarettes, matches, and anything that can course a spark.
- Fuel sources are things that can burn easily, like wood, paper, foam, plastic, rubber, loose packaging, and furniture.
- Oxygen exists naturally in the air so that’s why open fires in nature burn for longer
This case study is a practical example of how a fire started and could have been prevented.
A shopkeeper throws away the packaging waste from the stock by the back of the shop as he has to stock the shelves quickly after a delivery. His staff sometimes go out the back to have a cigarette break outside. One week he’d left the rubbish packaging for a few days and a discarded cigarette caused it to catch fire. By the time it was put out, it have caused large damage to his back exit and shelving inside, and resulted in significant costs in repairs and damaged stock.
This fire could have been prevented if the owner had completed his fire risk assessment and taken precautionary measures to reduce the risks.
The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 covers all general fire safety in England and Wales, but in Scotland, the requirements are covered in Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. In most premises, local fire authorities are responsible for enforcing this legislation. HSE has the enforcement authority for nuclear premises, on construction sites, and ships undergoing repairs.
Fire Safety Responsibilities
As an employer, building owner, or occupier, you have the responsibility to carry out a fire risk assessment and ensure it’s up to date. Based on the findings, you must ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to lower the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
To prevent a fire from starting, your assessment should identify any possible risks that could cause a fire to ignite and substances to burn. Once you have identified these risks, you can take action to control them, or even avoid them altogether.
- Carry out a risk assessment regularly
- Keep ignition sources away from flammable substances
- Ensure your premises are tidy at all times to avoid rubbish that could burn
- Consider how you will warn people quickly if a fire starts - do your smoke alarms work?
- Make sure you have the correct equipment needed to put out a fire
- Clearly mark all fire exits and escape routes
- Ensure all staff and/or residents are trained
- Review the assessment regularly
If you require any further information or want to enquire about our one-stop-shop or have us complete a fire risk assessment for you, then contact us today on 0800 799 9514, or click here to fill out our online enquiry form.