What Is National Fire Safety Week and How Can It Help to Raise Fire Safety Awareness?
First, we need to look at the History:
Fire Prevention Week, was first established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The infamous blaze devastated a large part of Chicago and, in doing so, killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2000 acres of land. The fire started on October 8th but continued into, and did most of its damage on, October 9th.
National Fire Safety Week was initiated by the Fire Protection Association (FPA) many years ago. The FPA is based in Gloucestershire and is run in conjunction with the UK fire services and is supported by a wide variety of organisations. Although there is no set date for the National Fire Safety Week, it generally occurs in September or October. For 2017 Fire Prevention week is from 8th – 14th October 2017.
How to be prepared:
The FPA uses National Fire Safety Week to promote safe fire prevention practices and to educate the public about the costs of fire. The FPA uses these events and activities throughout the week to show people how deadly fire can be. They also want to show people different ways in which fires can be prevented. It will also assist and show people the need for fire prevention at home and whilst you are at work.
There are a huge number of risks in both commercial and industrial environments, this could be all of the electrical equipment that you have in an office, chemicals and tools in a factory, materials such as papers and fabrics in a school or various heating and cooking appliances in a food preparation environment. All of these factors, combined with accidents and of course human error, can result in fires which kill or seriously injure employees, visitors and clients, and it can also damage, or even destroy, your building, equipment and stock.
According to the Communities and Local Government Fire Statistics, from 2010 to 2011, there were 24,900 fires recorded in buildings other than residential properties in the UK, these statistics just show how important workplace fire protection is. There are laws and regulations which administer this, however, it is the process of protection that can be fairly confusing, meaning it is for businesses to seek the knowledge and professional advice from qualified Fire Safety Officers.
At HR Services Scotland, we have qualified Fire Safety Officers that can provide advice and assistance in carrying out Fire Risk Assessments, Fire Action Plans, Fire Training etc. and also to ensure that the business is keeping in line with current fire legislation.
- Find out who is responsible for fire protection within your building
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, states that all businesses and commercial properties must assign a ‘responsible person’ to act as a Fire Warden. What this means is that if you’re an employer, owner, landlord or occupier of a business or other non-domestic building, it is your responsibility for fire safety and you are in charge of ensuring that you comply with current legislation and undertake regular reviews, assessments and safety protection measures to ensure the safety of employees, visitors, contractors etc.
- Define the main responsibilities of a fire safety officer
The main duties of the ‘responsible person or Fire Warden’ includes performing Fire Risk Assessments, undergoing fire risk reductions, ensuring fire protection and fire safety equipment is kept serviced and in good condition, and ensuring that fire alarms are tested weekly and fire drills are carried out at least annually. It is important that the fire safety officer has a clear understanding as well as being knowledgeable of fire, the building and general fire and safety precautions.
Their main responsibility is to ensure that, in the event of a fire, everyone can escape quickly and easily, they must also have the skills necessary to plan and practice safe evacuation processes at least once per year.
It’s is a legal requirement, to ensure that your employee and designated ‘responsible person or Fire Warden’ has sufficient fire safety training.
- Choose and install the right fire alarm system for your premises
One of the effective ways of protecting people within your business environment, as well as the building structure itself, is to ensure that you have a high-quality fire alarm system that has been professionally installed. It is incredibly important to install the appropriate fire alarm system for your environment, as different systems have different uses and purposes.
Our trained Fire Safety Officers at HR Services Scotland can assist your business in making sure that you have the right alarm system in place and they will assist in developing a plan to ensure that the system is functioning properly.
- Ensure effective fire protection equipment is installed and well-maintained
Fire alarms are vital and they are used for the quick and effective detection of the presence of fire or smoke. There is a huge selection of fire protection equipment available which can save lives in the event of an emergency and it can also be a necessity by law.
Fire extinguishers are usually required in all commercial and industrial settings and are a fundamental form of protection. It will also provide you with a method of tackling the fire. However, there are various types of fire extinguishers, which are suitable for different types of fires and different environments. Therefore, it is crucial to get an expert opinion of what is the best extinguisher or combination of extinguishers for your property.
- Plan, prepare and practice fire evacuation procedures
As part of your Fire Risk Assessment, a vital measure of general fire safety is to plan and prepare a thorough emergency evacuation procedure. The procedure should include various routes out of the building, all of which should be deemed simple, effective and quick, this will ensure that if you need to make an exit, it will be safe and efficient as possible. It is also important to have alternative routes planned in case one exit way is blocked or partially obstructed by the fire.
Fire safety signage should be placed on doors and walls in order for people know what route to take, and emergency lighting is a useful safety measure in case the power cuts out during the evacuation. The designated ‘responsible person or Fire Warden’ should ensure everyone is aware of the evacuation procedure and a regular practice should be undertaken to maintain this awareness.
For the month of October, HR Services Scotland are offering Free Fire Risk Assessments highlight the importance of Fire Safety and to bring more awareness to businesses. Term and conditions apply so please contact a member of the Fire Safety team to arrange for your free Fire Risk Assessment.
If you require any assistance in relation to Fire Safety then please do not hesitate to contact our Fire Safety Officers at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610. Or contact our Business Development Manager, Graham Hyslop on 07702 130639