Vol. 1, Issue 31 (Mar 06) FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

From 1st April 2006, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 will take effect. This will have impact on fire safety and controls within the workplace. It is intended to simplify regulations and enforcement.

The issue and use of the “Fire Certificate” is to be removed and the principle will be covered by your own management system after risk assessment.

The arrangements are to ensure that fire safety procedures are suitable and sufficient relevant to the risks at the workplace.

The requirement will place a duty on the “responsible person”, to make fire precautions for their employees and others- non-employees, visitors, contractors and the like.

The “responsible person” must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which persons would be exposed on the premises.

Provide adequate and suitable means for giving warning in the event of fire, for escape from a fire and for fire fighting. This must include any maintenance of fixed systems i.e. fire hose reels etc.

As with any risk assessment , control is relevant. Therefore storing of hazardous materials and hazardous works processes should be controlled in such a manner that the risks are reduced and managed.

Where procedures for serious and imminent danger exist (regulation 8 of the “Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations”) from hazardous processes are to be developed, practiced and implemented.

Where five or less are employed the risk assessment will not need to be written down or recorded, this may have any effect in a shared environment with small numbers of employees. Therefore we would recommend that you co-operate and co-ordinate with others (Regulation 11 of the “Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations”).

In completing the risk assessment you will need to have the following information available to you to make an informed decision, “understanding fire risks, materials likely to be affected (what is combustible), the hazards present in the workplace, existing control measures, the work activities (perceived risks higher in factories & warehouses etc, lower risk offices), and persons at risk (numbers of persons present, disabilities, learning difficulties etc).

The assessment must consider the means of escape, fire alarms systems, potential spread of fire (compartments), fire escape routes, fire doors etc, the management and maintenance of fire controls and procedures, evacuation drills, fire wardens and training of persons in when, how and what to do and where to go.

The “Fire Safety Order” will repeal several pieces of legislation, this includes and is not meant to record all repeals, “Fire Precautions Act 1971″, “Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 and 1999″.

A fire risk assessment could include and not be limited to the following: -

  • House-keeping practices and the knowledge of the occupiers of fire risks.
  • Storage of substances, the area, the access, what is stored, i.e. how flammable.
  • Fire alarm and fire detection systems, this may include fixed fire fighting systems such as hose reels, sprinklers and the like. The installation and maintenance and service of the services and systems installed.
  • Structural features of the facility, the design, partitioning, the existing fire prevention and fire spread construction.
  • Process and materials used and stored in connection with the process.
  • Maintenance and adequacy of the means of escape, the escape routes, the external fire stairs, the condition and where they go, i.e. no blockages etc.
  • The persons who use the premises, the vulnerable, the visitor, the contractors – How do they assist in the fire control of fire? Do you control them? Is there a system of permits.
  • The training of employees to include the existing staff, in what to do, the new starters the induction process and the routine.
  • Refresher training of fire wardens.
  • The emergency planning procedures for the location, existing and altered, do not forget, where you change the layout you could alter the procedure.
  • Is there a system to control the amounts of combustible materials and flammable liquids in the work place?
  • Is the electrical wiring inspected periodically by a competent person?
  • Are all items of portable equipment fitted with correctly rated fuses?
  • Is the upholstered furniture in good condition?
  • Is there a procedure for review of the fire risk assessment periodically?
  • Has a formal; report been prepared and shown to the staff or their representatives?
  • Are the fire safety provisions adequate or could they be improved?
  • If escape lighting is installed, is it working properly?
  • Is the escape lighting maintained regularly?
  • Is there an automatic fire alarm system?
  • Is the fire alarm in good working order?
  • Is the fire alarm tested weekly?
  • Are fire action notices prominently displayed throughout the workplace?
  • Is there an emergency plan in case of a major fire? Can the final exits be opened immediately without the use of a key?
  • Are the final exits from the premises always unlocked when the premises are in use?
  • Is there a designated smoking area provided with adequate ashtrays?
  • Are there measures to segregate areas of the building to prevent the spread of fire?

We would recommend that you give serious thought and consideration to have in place an “Business Continuity Plan”.

Send an e-mail and we will send you a draft plan.

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