Fire Safety has been a hot topic in the media recently, with the recent Trump Tower incident causing disbelief and panic among residents and owners, as well as the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in London last year.
Lingering above all is the question why we are still talking about how to make buildings safe on a daily basis, even after devastating accidents like Grenfell have shown us the importance of implementing an effective fire safety plan.
Following these Fire Safety steps will help set up a secure health and safety system to avoid more horrendous breaching fees, accidents, and potential loss of life to residents and employees.
1) Identifying a responsible person
Often, fire safety gets neglected because responsibilities are not clearly communicated and understood. Figuring out who in the building – whether residential, public or office – is responsible for applying the fire safety legislation is the first step.
Usually, the responsible person is the building owner or the employer. In some cases with large buildings, there might need to be more than one responsible person.
2) Understanding your responsibilities
Once the responsible person is identified, they will need to take action as soon as possible. This will include:
- Ensuring a risk assessment is carried out by a professional safety officer
- Implementing general fire precautions and measures of fire prevention;
- Recording any findings carefully;
- Setting up a plan for the future on how to maintain the safety system.
3) Carrying out a fire risk assessment
A professional fire risk assessment, done by a competent person with the necessary qualifications, is key to identifying safety issues. The assessment consists of analysing every potential hazard in the building, commonly including:
- Fire alarm and detection systems, especially important in residential buildings where people sleep, or a large covered shopping complex or a building with phased evacuation.
- Structural and passive fire protection, such as firewalls and partitioning, smoke curtains, ductwork and dampers, fire doors and barriers.
- Means of escape, considering dead ends, the number and distribution of escapes on each floor, the ability of occupants to use the escape routes, and arrangements for people with disabilities.
- Emergency lighting, like self-contained emergency lights with the battery and charger built into the light fitting
- Signs and notices, indicating the use of escape hardware, fire doors and exits, as well as equipment signs, pointing to a fire extinguisher, smoke signs, etc.
- Firefighting equipment and facilities, such as fire blankets and buckets, hose reels, sprinkler systems, water mist, foam and powder systems, and kitchen fire suppression systems.
4) Implementing the findings
Now it’s time to ensure precautions are in place. If the responsible person finds this task too complex, a professional health and safety assessor can help with making sure they are compliant with regulations.
In case of a fire, the responsible person will be liable for any insufficient work and could be facing enormous breaching fees. Therefore, it is important to invest time and money into a thorough, professional fire safety system.
5) Maintaining the safety plan
Once in place, premises will need to be checked regularly, possibly using an extensive check-list, to ensure they still work. Especially fire equipment, like extinguishers, need to be replaced from time to time.
It’s very importantly everyone in the building receives proper fire safety training on how to react in the event of an emergency. Fire drills should take place during a time when everyone is in the building and need to be repeated regularly.
Implementing the correct measures and making sure everyone knows how to react in case of a fire makes all the difference in the end. Sloppy fire safety has cost too many lives already recently – it is our responsibility to work together to create a safe environment in which safety is guaranteed and doesn’t need to be second-guessed anymore.
Once the proper measures are implemented it is vital for compliance that you have an audit trail of all measures, assessments and training that has taken place. The Safety Media online health and safety software suite can help keep records secure, accessible and easy to report on. Find out more today »