Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is calling on bar and restaurant owners to make sure they are operating safely and adhering to fire safety regulations ahead of planned re-openings this weekend.
Many pubs, bars and restaurants across Merseyside will be allowed to open on Saturday 4th July, as long as they are ‘COVID-secure’. In many cases, this will result in changes to the internal layout of premises, additional partitions, seating outside and security measures.
Officers from MFRS will be working alongside local authorities this weekend to carry out inspections of licenced premises to ensure they are conforming to fire regulations and that social distancing measures are not having an adverse impact on fire safety.
Station Manager Brian Massie, from MFRS’ Fire Protection Department, said: “We understand that pub landlords, bar owners and restauranteurs will be keen to re-open their doors to the public after a long period of closure, but it’s really important that business owners continue to prioritise the fire safety of the business, the safety of the people working there and those visiting their establishment.
“Many premises will have had to change the way they operate as a result of government guidance, including changing the layout of tables and chairs and the introduction of partitions where necessary. But these changes should be done in a way that does not significantly impact on fire safety – escape routes should still be kept clear and designated fire exits should not be blocked by furniture or excess stock. It's also really important that any outdoor seating or tables are not positioned on fire hydrants.
“Many businesses will still be experiencing reductions in staffing levels so it’s vital that premises have the adequate amount of competent people who understand the fire safety measures that have been put in place – do your staff know what to do in the event of a fire? Do they know how to check the fire alarm is working, where firefighting equipment is kept and how to use it safely, how and where to evacuate? Remember – coronavirus is not an excuse for disregarding your responsibilities. A fire could call last orders on your premises for good.”
As well as urging bar and restaurant owners to help keep customers safe, MFRS is also reminding people that they must also take responsibility for their own safety, particularly when consuming alcohol.
Mark Thomas, Group Manager for Prevention at MFRS, said: “All too often we hear of people who drown despite never intending to enter the water. Slips, trips and falls are common and many alcohol-related accidents begin near, rather than in water.
“If you are planning on heading out for a drink this weekend, make sure you stay away from water. Alcohol can seriously impair your judgement, reactions and ability to swim. A quick dip might seem like a good idea but it definitely isn’t. Even during the summer, open water remains cold and sudden immersion can lead to cold water shock. Avoid walking home alone and avoid routes near water.
“Once you get home, you might be hungry but alcohol and cooking just don’t mix. Don’t cook if you’ve been drinking alcohol, especially if you feel tired or drunk. If you are having a drink, let someone else do the cooking or consider eating beforehand.”
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.