Fire has the potential to injure or kill large numbers of people very quickly, so good management of business fire safety is essential. It will help to minimise the risk of injury or death to staff or the public. Should a fire break out, it’s important to control or contain it quickly, effectively and safely, and to ensure everyone in your premises is able to escape to a place of total safety easily and quickly.

There are a number of government guides to help you keep safe and to carry out risk assessments, which we’ve provided below.

Office and Shops

Escape routes, emergency lighting, signs and firefighting equipment are just some of the considerations when carrying out your fire risk assessment. Before admitting the public to your premises you need to ensure that all of your fire safety provisions are in place and in working order, or, if not, that alternative arrangements are in place.

For more information, view the full guide aimed at premises where the main use of the building or part of the building is an office or shop (but may also be suitable for individual units within complexes.) Where units fit within complexes, consultation with other managers is necessary as part of an integrated risk assessment.

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Factories and Warehouses

Industrial premises often use several of pieces of specialised equipment which may need to be considered as part of a fire risk assessment, especially if you handle and store flammable materials and substances. Similarly, if large quantities of stock are being stored in a small area of space, this needs to be sufficiently covered in your fire safety policies.

This government guide provides assistance for a ‘responsible person’, to help them to carry out a fire risk assessment in less complex factories and warehouses. More complex premises will probably need to be assessed by a person who has comprehensive training or experience in fire risk assessment.

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Sleeping Accomodation

Anyone involved in running premises for sleeping accommodation, including hotels and hostels, should invest time in reducing the risk of a fire starting, mainly by focusing on separating flammable materials from ignition sources. You should consider things such as housekeeping, laundries, kitchen areas, smoking and escape routes.

It’s also important to think about how you can minimise the risk to people by restricting the spread of fire and smoke, as well as particular hazards in corridors. This guide will help make sure most sleeping accommodation premises are compliant with the Fire Safety Order.

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Transport Premises

Many operators of transport facilities are likely to already have well-documented health and safety risk assessment policies and procedures which cover fire safety issues. It’s important that those fire safety policies meet the benchmarks set out by government guidance to comply with the Fire Safety Order.

Advice for transport premises doesn’t apply to vehicles used as modes of transport (e.g. cars, buses, trains, and aircraft.) Similarly, it doesn’t include adjoining premises such as hotels or shopping malls – those are subject to their own relative guidance, but the appropriate managers should work together on an integrated risk assessment for the entire complex.

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Escape for Disabled People

Evacuation plans for premises shouldn’t rely on the intervention of the fire service to make them work. In the case of shared buildings, responsibility may lie with a number of organisations and with the owners of the building.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) doesn’t make any change to these requirements: it underpins the current fire safety legislation in England and Wales – the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – by requiring that employers or organisations providing services to the public take responsibility for ensuring that all people, including disabled people, can leave the building they control safely in the event of a fire.  Where an employer or a service provider does not make provision for the safe evacuation of disabled people from its premises, this may be viewed as discrimination. It may also constitute a failure to comply with the requirements of the fire safety legislation mentioned above.

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