Is My Office Fire Safe?
Whether you’re the “responsible person” in the business or simply a concerned employee, it’s important to understand if your office is fire safe. Ensuring fire safety in an office environment can be a difficult task, there are a number of risks and hazards, and staff who may require training. Needless to say, regardless of its difficulty, fire safety is one of the most important things for a business to get right and stay on top of.
In the UK in 2016/17 there were 601 fires office buildings in the UK and the majority of businesses hit by fire never re-open.
The Responsible Person
The first step is to establish whether the business has an acknowledged “responsible person”. This is the person who is ultimately in charge of the business’s fire safety. It’s the responsible person’s responsibility (hence the name) to ensure that the business complies with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This usually falls to the person controlling the business activities on the premises.
It’s this person’s remit to not only to ensure that the business and personnel are safe from fire, but also to document everything so that this can be demonstrated if necessary. If there is no one appointed as the “responsible person”, then someone must be appointed.
The responsible person must establish one or more “competent persons”. These are people who are charged with carrying out protective measures to be compliant. A competent person is characterised as someone with enough training, experience and knowledge to be able to carry out these tasks to the appropriate standard. This can be the same person as the responsible person, if necessary, but there will usually be a need to engage external competent persons for specialised areas such as fire alarms, extinguisher maintenance and so on.
It is also the responsible person’s duty to contact the responsible persons of connected or nearby buildings to establish procedures should fire risks in one premises impact on the other. You do not have to be the building’s or business’s owner to be the responsible person. However, the building owner (even if not an employer or occupier of the building) is still considered a responsible person at the premises and has a duty to ensure that the building and occupants are compliant.
Fire Risk Assessment
The next step is to ensure that your business has a recent and relevant fire risk assessment. Recent and relevant means that the FRA has accurately assessed the business in its current state and assumes that no changes have been made since then that may change the fire risks within the business.
The fire risk assessment will outline any changes and procedures that need to be put in place to ensure that the business is compliant.
You must also supply employees – including sub-contractors and their employer – clear and relevant information relating to the risks to them identified within the fire risk assessment.
Training & Equipment
It’s the responsible person’s duty to ensure that all staff receive appropriate information, training and instruction, during normal working hours, about fire precautions and procedures. This must be done both at the start of employment and at regular intervals.
All staff should be aware of the location, use and basic operation of firefighting equipment provided within the building if the company policy is for staff to tackle small fires.
All escape routes within the building should be well maintained by all members of staff, they should be regularly checked and clear from obstruction. All members of staff should be trained in finding their nearest fire escape route and fire evacuation procedures.
Ensuring that business is fire compliant can be a difficult task, it’s why thousands of businesses employ our services to ensure that the business is entirely compliant. Click here to learn about our fire risk assessment services.