Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) will be running a series of campaigns to both support and engage with small business owners from diverse communities to ensure they are aware of their statutory obligations in relation to fire safety.
We know that lack of information about local regulations which is easily accessible and easily understandable can be a significant frustration and barrier for some Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community businesses.
The campaigns are being run as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) Business Safety Week, which runs 5th-11th September.
MFRS staff, including operational firefighters and fire safety staff, will be visiting businesses across Merseyside throughout the week to offer free help, advice and guidance to help minimise the risk of fire in the workplace.
To reflect our focus on diverse communities, we intend to provide information in plain English and presented in different ways such as graphics and images and we will be encouraging staff to use the ‘story telling approach’, rather than just presenting facts to raise awareness of the importance of compliance.
Staff will be reminding businesses about the everyday fire risks in the workplace and both the legal and moral responsibility to ensure premises are safe from fire.
Station Manager Chris Man explains: “The last two years have been extremely challenging for businesses – particularly small businesses – and we want to help them to ensure they can continue to make their valued contribution to the economy and the local communities.
“It’s vital that businesses continue to prioritise fire safety and take steps to ensure staff are suitably trained, fire equipment is checked and maintained, any necessary fire risk assessments are up to date and that fire safety isn’t compromised by things like blocked fire exits, a build-up of flammable stock or staff simply not knowing what to do in the event of a fire.
“Fire can have a devastating impact on a business, with many never recovering. That’s why we are committed to working closely with our local business communities to ensure they are aware of what they can do to reduce the risk of fire and keep their business, staff and customers safe.”
Many businesses will see significant challenges at the moment due to the economic climate which could have an impact on fire safety in the workplace. The week’s campaigns will also see MFRS highlight protection work and support which can be offered not just as part of the week but all year round.
Campaigns will also focus on reducing false alarms, with around 44% of fire service call outs in the UK a result of false alarms. Not only do false alarms impact on business productivity, but they increase pressure on fire service resources and time, both of which could be spent on dealing with genuine emergencies and community prevention and protection activities.
Advice is also available to businesses on reducing the risk of arson by taking simple steps to protect premises.
Top tips for keeping your business safe:
- Keep exit routes clear and available for use.
- Are your staff adequately trained?
- Do your staff know what to do in the event of a fire?
- Do staff know the building evacuation plan?
- Are staff aware of the fire exit routes?
- Is someone nominated to dial 999?
- Are staff expected to use fire extinguishers and, if so, are they trained?
- Is your Fire Risk Assessment up to date?
The fire risk assessment should be completed by a competent fire risk assessor. It is usually reviewed at least every 12 months and if there are any changes that may affect the fire safety of the premises. Such as, changes to the premises, processes and/or management system. 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?
An alarm test should be carried out on a weekly basis using a different call point each time and it should be subject to an annual test by a suitably qualified engineer.
- Do you have enough fire extinguishers for your premises?
Extinguishers should be checked weekly and have an annual test by a qualified engineer.
- Are your exits 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 minimse contact between staff and door handles. Fire exit doors should be available for use whenever the premises is occupied. Fire doors should be maintained in good condition so they can perform the job they are designed to do.
- Do self-closing devices work?
- Are the intumescent strips and smoke seals around the edge of the door frame undamaged?
- Do your fire doors close snugly against the frame?
- Are they free from damage (e.g. from stock trolleys)?
- Is your business protected against arson?
- Make sure your business premises are secure out of hours
- Ideally all rubbish should be removed from site on a regular basis and stored securely until collection.
- 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
- For more information on keeping your business safe from fire, please read our Business Fire Safety leaflet on our website here.