Given that the coronavirus pandemic is new territory for the whole world, let alone the fire protection industry, it’s unsurprising that many businesses are still trying to find their feet as they balance fire safety with virus safety.
However, there’s a good chance that, during this time, there will be many changes to the way that premises across the UK are staffed, managed and used, some of which could have a negative impact on fire safety.
In light of all this, in this article, the Fire Action team are going to go through some measures that can be put in place to ensure that fire safety is maximised in premises with limited staff.
Perform a Fire Risk Assessment
With fewer staff managing the building and perhaps some physical changes to the building in place, there might now be a greater number of fire risks at play. With this in mind, it’s absolutely essential that you carry out a new fire risk assessment, factoring in some of the recent changes to your business. Make sure to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the most vulnerable people receiving support?
- What are the new risks? What risks have heightened? What risks have reduced?
- What interim measures could be put in place?
A Note about Fire Doors
In line with fire safety regulations, buildings are fitted with self-closing doors to ensure that the flames are properly contained and escape routes are protected, in the event of a fire.
However, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, many businesses are wedging open fire doors to try and minimise the amount of surfaces that visitors need to touch as they make their way through a building. While this might have merit in preventing the spread of the virus, this is still very risky in and of itself, so it needs to be factored into a fire risk assessment, and appropriate countermeasures need to be put in place.
Even with minimal staff, it’s absolutely vital that you retain enough personnel to be able to properly carry out an evacuation plan. All staff must be properly familiar with evacuation plan too, including temporary staff. What’s more, you should try as far as possible to maintain social distancing measures during the evacuation process, this could mean ensuring people are sufficiently spread out at the evacuation point.
What If My Building Is Closed?
With the many number of businesses that have put their staff on furlough leave, there are currently many office buildings across the UK that are not in use. If your building currently falls into this category, there are a number of measures that you can put in place to guard against fires, both accidental and deliberate:
- Isolate all utilities and equipment that are not required – but ensure your fire alarms are still operative.
- Close all fire doors (especially if they have been wedged).
- Don’t store combustible materials against the building and consider other measures to prevent arson.
- Where possible ask your local community to help keep an eye on your premises. Again, this will help guard against the chance of arson.
- Make sure that all cabling is properly organised and necessary electrics are switched off, this will help combat the chance of any electrical fires.
Here at Fire Action, we are experts at installing, maintaining and repairing fire safety systems. We provide our professional services to offices and commercial premises across Kent and beyond – so if you’re searching for a reliable fire safety specialist, you’ve found one.
If you have any concerns about fire safety during the coronavirus pandemic that you would like to raise a with a member of our staff, we would be more than happy to advise you. Get in touch today.