Business Safety Week 2020 - don't overlook fire safety

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is calling on businesses who have made changes due to COVID-19 to make sure fire safety remains a top priority.

The call comes as many businesses have had to implement and enforce news ways of working due to the pandemic. MFRS is reminding businesses about the everyday fire risks in the workplace and both the legal and moral responsibility to ensure premises are safe from fire.

Many businesses had to respond quickly to the pandemic once they were allowed to reopen and while revisiting risk assessments, fire safety may not have been at the forefront of planning.

MFRS is backing the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Business Safety Week – which runs from 7th to 13th September – and encouraging business owners and Responsible Persons (RPs) to ensure they review their Fire Risk Assessments. They should also seek guidance and advice to help keep their premises and occupants safe from fire.

Businesses must consider the potential risk that COVID-secure measures may in some cases compromise fire safety measures.

Mark Andrews, NFCC’s Business Engagement Lead, said: “It’s been a difficult and challenging time for so many people, and Fire & Rescue Services want to make sure that as businesses address changes needed in response to COVID-19, they remain fire safe.

“Fire can have a devastating impact on businesses, with many never recovering after an incident.”

Top tips for keeping your business safe:

  • Remember, social distancing measures should NOT adversely affect fire safety. Make sure new screens don’t obstruct smoke detection and keep entrances/exits clear and fire exits unlocked.

  • Are your staff adequately trained? Make sure you have an adequate number of competent persons to help in the implementation of preventative and protective fire safety measures. If you have absent staff, make sure there are adequately trained staff on-site at all times to ensure fire safety measures are not adversely affected.

  • Is your Fire Risk Assessment up to date? 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 fire risk assessments can be found at https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments

  • Does your fire alarm work? Check your fire alarm is working correctly and carry out regular fire drills. Make sure your staff know what to do in the event of a fire.

  • Does your firefighting equipment work? Make sure firefighting equipment is maintained. Ensure staff know where it is kept and how to use it safely.

  • Are your fire doors clear? Escape routes should be kept clear and designated fire exits should not be blocked by furniture or excess stock. 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.
  • Is your business protected against 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 premises.
    - Keep all entrances and exits of the building clear at all times.
    - Stock should not be kept in excessive amounts.
    - Lighting, CCTV and fencing will deter criminals.
    - 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.

You can download our COVID-19 business fire safety leaflet here.

The campaign can be followed on social media using the #BusinessSafety2020.

Further information on keeping your business safe from fire can be found on the NFCC's website here. 

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