We’ve all heard about how to prevent fires in the workplace, but with a statistic of around 22,000 fires recorded in non-domestic buildings in the year 2014 alone, it’s vital to make sure you have a fire plan in place to protect your business and employees.
How to Create a Fire Plan for Your Business
We have put together a list of important things to consider when creating a fire plan for your business, so you know exactly what to do in the event of a fire.
Extinguishing a fire
A fire plan should state the company policies for when a fire extinguisher is to be used, especially as some businesses will understandably have a stricter policy. Be sure to mention where the fire extinguishers are located in the workplace.
If a fire is at a controllable size and isn’t near any flammable materials or solvents, then it may be safe to use a fire extinguisher. All fire extinguishers will have a label on them outlining which type of fire they are best suited for, such as an electrical fire or a paper fire, etc. Remember that fire extinguishers have different uses, for example you can use a CO2 extinguisher on flammable liquids but not cooking oils or deep fat fryer and live electrical equipment. You must not use on wood, paper or textiles and don’t hold the horn when operating.
Sounding the fire alarm
The next thing to add is how to sound the fire alarm. This could either be a break glass system, a pull lever or a simple button to trigger the alarm. Make sure that all employees have an understanding of where all fire alarms are located in the building.
This step should also include calling 999 to alert the Fire Brigade. The average response time is around 7-8 minutes, although as fires can double in size every 30 seconds, this should be done after the building has been completely evacuated.
If you work in a larger building, it is advisable to create a ‘floor plan’ showing all emergency exit routes each person should take depending on which room they are in, but also showing where the nearest fire extinguishers are located. To avoid messy queues and blocked corridors in the event of a fire, try to spread out the designated fire exits for each room, rather than sending all employees to the same fire exit.
Also include a plan for any employees with mobility needs. For example, if someone in a wheelchair uses an elevator to get to and from their office, would they still be able to escape in the event of a fire? The special needs for any disabled person must be incorporated into any procedures and training programs, then reviewed with the individual on a regular basis to make sure their needs haven’t changed.
Escaping the building
If smoke is accumulating as the fire increases, the most important thing to do is to make sure that all employees escape from the building safely. Personal belongings and office equipment can always be replaced, your employees’ lives are far more valuable. Most employees will be tempted to grab their belongings before escaping a fire struck building, without really thinking about how much difference an extra few seconds can make in escaping the burning building. Once you’re out of the building, stay out!
Evacuation assembly points
Including the evacuation assembly points into your fire plan is extremely important, as it needs to be in the safest place where the fire is least likely to spread to, such as a nearby car park. Create a register to help with a headcount to make sure all members of the team have evacuated safely. Your plan should also mention that at no point should any individual return to the building until it has been marked safe by the emergency services.
Having regular fire drills will make sure employees know exactly how to act in the event of a fire, for example what to do and where the meeting points are.
If you’re interested in our Fire Awareness course, any other Health and Safety training courses or would like to make sure your fire extinguishers are all in working order, please get in touch on 01908 465264 or click here to contact us via email and we will be happy to help.