Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service is urging business owners to check their business premises are safe from the risk of fire as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC’s) Business Safety Week 2019.
The campaign runs from 9th - 15th September aims to provide those who have responsibility for businesses and public buildings with information and advice to reduce the number of fire incidents and false alarms in the workplace, both of which impact business safety and productivity.
The week encourages all businesses to ensure they have taken the steps required by law to protect their business and employees from fire. Advice will also be given on preventing arson attacks, reducing false alarms, and if needed fire safety advice for premises with sleeping accommodation adjacent or above them.
The lead up to Christmas can be a busy time for businesses so NFCC are calling on people to take the opportunity now to review risk assessments and escape plans in preparation for Christmas as they may take on extra stock and new or seasonal staff. Statistics show that in 2017-18 there were 19,033 fires in UK businesses with about 30% (5,293) being deliberately set.
In the UK electrical fires account for around 33% of accidental fires in the workplace. These fires can be due to electrical faults or misuse of electrical equipment. A rise in these fires is seen during the Christmas period.
By law, employers should make sure equipment is installed, maintained and used correctly, whether it is owned or leased by the business.
MFRS Area Manager Guy Keen, who is also the NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Vice Chair, said: “About one third of fires in the workplace are due to electrical faults and misuse of electrical equipment. The majority of these fires are likely to be preventable by taking some simple measures, businesses can learn about how to make their premises and their staff safer from fire.
“We know that many small businesses never recover from the damage caused by fire, so it is really important to factor in fire safety particularly as part of preparations in the run up to Christmas.”
Chair of NFCC's Protection and Business Safety Committee, Mark Hardingham said: "Fire can have a devastating effect on small and medium size businesses. The NFCC is committed to supporting business and linking them to their local fire and rescue service who can help and advise them on reducing their fire risk.
"We encourage business owners to get in touch with their local fire service and find out about the help available so business can flourish and support the UK economy and local community in a safe and sustainable way."
TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR BUSINESS SAFE
• Waste management should be considered in your Fire Risk Assessment. Waste and rubbish (free fuel) should be in secure areas/bins, away from buildings, and NOT be accessible through perimeter fencing.
• DO NOT place skips, recycling or bins under eaves or canopies of buildings.
• DO NOT use entrance ways, shop fronts, entry and exit points as delivery points when closed. Likewise, DO NOT use these areas for leaving out next day waste collection points.
• Having a clean external site with open spaces clear of clutter is less interesting to opportunist snooping criminals.
Protect your premises
• Arson should be a key consideration in your Fire Risk Assessment; Perimeter security, Security lighting, CCTV reduce opportunist intrusion.
• Consider installing external mail boxes at perimeter fencing, blanking off door letterboxes or fitting anti-arson letterboxes on entry doors.
• Make sure you know who is on your site at all times - this means visitors and staff having signing in and out procedures.
Involve and inform your staff
• Staff are a big asset to your business security arrangements. Developing a vigilant workforce who support compliance with your fire safety and business security procedures will help healthy business growth and general operations. When closing for the day may sure staff have procedures for closing down and securing up before leaving the building and site. Make sure your staff know about fire prevention and its importance to you, having a way of reporting concerns will help improve operations.