Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

Our Mission: Safer Stronger Communities - Safe Effective Firefighters.

Businesses urged to make fire safety a priority

Businesses urged to make fire safety a priority


Wednesday, 03 June 2020

Businesses across Merseyside are being urged to ensure they are operating safely and adhering to fire safety regulations following a series of large industrial fires in recent weeks.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) spent more than 26 hours dealing with a fire on an industrial estate in Newton-le-Willows last month. The fire – which was declared a major incident – saw 20 fire engines attend at its height, and drew resources from neighbouring fire & rescue services and multi-agency partners. Two further fires at industrial sites took place the following day, again requiring significant emergency service resources.

On the back of these and a number of similar incidents, MFRS is reminding businesses of their responsibility to adhere to fire safety and carry out checks around their site.

Whilst many premises remain closed, there are still many others operating to supply essential goods and services, there are also now a number of premises beginning a phased return to opening in accordance with government guidance.

Station Manager Bill Shepherd, MFRS Protection department, said: “We know that the current COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected a number of businesses across Merseyside, through reductions in staffing levels and disruption to normal working practices. However, it is vital that business owners continue to prioritise the fire safety of the business, the safety of the people working there and/or those visiting the business.

“As government guidance changes and lockdown restrictions are eased, more and more people will be returning to work but we understand that businesses are still not operating at what they would deem to be ‘normal’. Coronavirus is not an excuse for disregarding your responsibilities and businesses must ensure that they have an adequate amount of competent people to help in the implementation of both preventative and protective fire safety measures.

“If you have absent staff, you must ensure that there are adequately trained staff on-site at all times to ensure fire safety measures are not adversely affected. You should be continuing to maintain and regularly testing your fire safety provisions, including testing your fire alarms and carrying out regular fire drills.”

Businesses should also be taking the necessary steps to protect themselves from arson, including removing combustible materials from the site or ensuring they are stored securely out of sight. Entrances and exits of buildings should be kept clear at all times and stock should not be kept in excessive amounts.

One thing that businesses should not be doing under any circumstances is burning waste onsite. Not only does this create serious risk of fire, it can also seriously harm health and pollute the environment.

Nigel Glasgow, an Environment Agency Environmental Manager said: “The Environment Agency remains committed during the Coronavirus pandemic to reducing waste crime and reducing the opportunities for those operating illegally to do so. We will continue to support the Fire and Rescue service during this challenging time.

“The Environment Agency would like to take this opportunity to remind the public that it’s illegal to burn most types of waste. Burning waste such as treated wood, tyres, plastics, rubber and oil can seriously harm health and pollute the environment. People face a fine of up to £50,000 for illegally managing waste.

“Also if you are visiting the countryside, please follow the Countryside Code and do not light fires or use disposable barbecues. Fires can be devastating to wildlife and habitats as they are to people and property. So be careful with naked flames and cigarettes at any time of the year and if a fire appears to be unattended then report it by calling 999.”

There are a number of steps that businesses can take to reduce their risk of fire:

COMPETENT PERSONS: Ensure you have an adequate amount of competent persons to help in the implementation of preventative and protective fire safety measures. If you have absent staff you must ensure that there are adequately trained staff on-site at all times, to ensure the fire safety measures are not adversely affected.

PROTECTION FROM ARSON:
- Make sure your business premises are secure out of hours
- Any combustible materials should be removed from site or stored securely
- Remove or store all rubbish securely away from the premises
- Keep all entrances and exits clear at all times
- Stock should not be kept in excessive amounts
- Lighting, CCTV and fencing will deter criminals

FIRE SAFETY TESTING: Onsite fire safety provisions should be tested regularly. This includes carrying out alarm tests and fire drills.

FIRE DOORS: Do NOT prop open fire doors, even if this is intended to minimise contact between staff and door handles. We would advise businesses to follow Public Health Advice around regularly washing your hands for 20 seconds or more to minimise the spread of coronavirus.

LONE WORKING With a reduced workforce, there may be an increased likelihood of people working alone within buildings. You need to ensure that these people are provided with adequate warning in case of fire so they do not become trapped.

FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT: It may be necessary to review your fire risk assessment during this time to ensure suitable and sufficient measures are in place. Further information on your fire risk assessments can be found at https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments

SECURE BUILDINGS: Try to ensure premises are regularly checked to ensure that the security of the building is not compromised and identify any attempts of arson. Any issues should be reported to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.

BURNING WASTE ON COMMERCIAL SITES: Remember, it is illegal to burn most types of waste. Burning waste such as treated wood, tyres, plastics, rubber and oil can seriously harm health and pollute the environment. People face a fine of up to £50,000 for illegally managing waste.
- You may be committing an offence by allowing waste to be stored on your land or in your property without the relevant permissions. This could leave you liable to prosecution. Carry out rigorous checks on prospective and new tenants.
- If you operate a waste management site, make sure it is legal and check you have the right permit for your activities:https://www.gov.uk/topic.environmental-management/waste

For more information on the Countryside Code visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code.

For further information, and for Frequently Asked Questions around business fire safety at this time, please see the National Fire Chiefs Council's guidance here: https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/write/MediaUploads/COVID-19/Protection%20documents/COVID-19_Protection_Advice_to_Businesses_-_12_June_2020_-_FINAL.pdf

Corporate Communications

Page Top