Protect your customers and employees with good fire safety
Poor fire safety can have big implications for your business. Make sure you comply with regulations by putting adequate fire safety measures in place.Fire safety is hugely important and failure to pay adequate attention to it can have disastrous and tragic consequences, both for your business and the people who use it.
The consequences of poor fire safety were tragically illustrated in September 2011 when a fire ripped through Gibson Court care home in Hinchley Wood. A lack of compartmental walls in the loft and a build-up of cooking grease in the kitchen accelerated the fire, and the danger was further exacerbated by poor staff training and inadequate emergency exit procedures. Sadly, 87 year old widow, Irene Cockerton, was unable to escape and died in the fire, highlighting the very human cost of poor fire safety.
Events such as this are undeniably tragic, but even where this is no loss of life, inadequate fire safety precautions can still have serious consequences for your business. A fire in your company can destroy or damage stock and premises, causing financial losses, particularly if they cannot be easily or quickly replaced. A lapse in safety could also cause lasting damage to your reputation, resulting in loss of customers and sales.
As a business owner, you are legally responsible for ensuring the safety of your employees and customers and failure to comply with fire safety regulations could result in large fines or, in some cases, even a prison sentence. A hotel owner in Derby who ignored repeated warnings from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service was recently sentenced to six months imprisonment and fined more than £40,000.
It’s easy to see why ensuring fire safety is so important for businesses, and there are a number of precautions you can take to help protect your company, clients and employees against the risk of fire.
As in most areas of life, prevention is always better than cure, so to help minimise the risk of a fire developing in the first place, make sure you display fire prevention signs and ensure that staff are fully trained in and aware of fire prevention measures.
If the worst happens and a fire does break out, it’s important to be prepared. To this end, put an emergency evacuation plan in place so that people can exit the property safely in the event of a fire, and ensure that emergency exit routes should be clearly signposted, with emergency lighting where necessary. You should also hold regular drills to test that your emergency plan works effectively.
Fire safety is the responsibility of all staff, so ensuring they are adequately trained and well-informed is key to your fire safety strategy. Make sure that all existing staff are aware of any fire risks and the emergency procedures and evacuation plan, and consider building it into induction processes for new staff members.
Last but certainly not least, it is vital that your premises has a fire detection and warning system, such as smoke detectors, fire alarms or sprinklers, along with adequate firefighting equipment such as fire extinguishers or fire blankets. These should all be maintained and regularly tested, with staff fully trained on how to use them.
Giving fire safety the attention it deserves is paramount to protecting your employees, your business and the general public, and, as we have seen, failure to do so can result in tragedy. By sticking to the regulations and with proper planning you can help to minimise the risk of fire and ensure that your business is a safe place to work and visit.