Fire safety advice for homeowners and businesses

Businesses

Risk assessments:

All UK businesses have a legal responsibility to undertake a fire risk assessment that is ‘suitable’ and ‘sufficient’. This should be reviewed regularly, at least annually, and it is worth conducting a quick review prior to any industrial action starting, to ensure that as far as possible:

  • Hazards have been identified and removed or reduced
  • The remaining risk is managed
  • The fire safety strategy is as robust as it possibly can be
  • Any short term measures to provide increased fire safety are in place.

Good housekeeping:

  • Do not let rubbish or combustible materials accumulate and especially not near to an ignition source
  • Sweep up all waste material and make sure unused packaging is stored away correctly
  • Keep paints, thinners and flammables stored in their correct metal units which are clearly marked
  • Be aware of any ‘hot works’ - can the work be delayed until the industrial action is over?
  • 50% of all fires are electrical in nature so make sure that all computers and other non-essential electrical items are switched off and/or unplugged at the end of the day
  • Do not allow wires to trail across walkways or lay under carpets - compression will damage the insulation and the resulting short circuit could start a fire
  • Do not use extension cables as far as possible
  • Do not overload electrical sockets and make sure that all electrical items have the correct fuse rating installed.

Training and awareness:

If you don’t already have them in place appoint FIRE WARDENS to provide a high level of fire safety awareness and focus.

  • The Fire Wardens should be trained in the use of fire extinguishers
  • They should check that good housekeeping is practised at all times
  • They should check that all doors and windows are closed at night and electrical items, computers etc. are switched off

Practice an evacuation drill and make sure everyone knows what to do in the event of fire. FIRE MARSHALLS should be appointed to make certain that the building is evacuated; everyone is accounted for and in the correct assembly area. Weekly sounder checks help to remind everyone what the fire alarm sounds like and that all sounders are operating correctly.

Fire alarms and false alarms:

During normal operations most fire brigades spend far too much time and unnecessary cost attending false and unwanted alarms. Everyone has a shared responsibility to reduce these, especially now during a period of reduced cover.

  • Make sure that your fire alarm system is correctly and regularly serviced
  • Keep steam, dirt, dust, heat and any other potential source of false alarm away from automatic detectors
  • If your fire alarm system has not been serviced recently or is overdue for a service, get it seen to immediately
  • Make sure that any staff tasked with using the controls are trained to do so (weekly testing of the system for example)
  • Make sure your Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) are informed at the start and on conclusion of any testing.

Homeowners/Residents

Use smoke alarms:

  • Position them to provide early notification of a fire
  • Most domestic fires start whilst people are asleep
  • Test them weekly and make sure the batteries are in good condition.

Caution when cooking:

  • Never cook under the influence. It makes you careless around ignition sources
  • Never leave hot oils and fats unattended
  • Never let children or pets near cooking appliances
  • Keep a fire blanket in the kitchen and know how to use it.

Extension cables and electrics:

  • 50% of all fires are electrical in nature so make sure that all computers, televisions and other non-essential electrical items are switched off and/or unplugged before going to bed
  • Do not run wires and extension cables under carpets Compression will damage the insulation and the resulting short circuit could start a fire
  • Do not use extension cables as far as possible
  • Do not overload electrical sockets and make sure that all electrical items have the correct fuse rating installed.
  • Never extend one extension with a second one.

Be careful with candles:

  • Try to avoid using them at this time
  • If you must, make sure they are on a firm, heatproof base and in a dedicated candle holder
  • Make sure they cannot fall or be knocked over and never leave children unattended near candles
  • Make sure they are nowhere near flammables (curtains etc).

Have an escape plan:

  • Have a plan and make sure everyone, including children, know what to do if a fire starts
  • Practice the plan
  • Think about escape routes if stairways are blocked by smoke, flame and fumes
  • Think about escape route impacts – for example - if you have to drop from an upstairs window:
  • Throw a mattress out to land on
  • Climb out and lower yourself to arm’s length from the window sill
  • Push yourself slightly away from the wall and drop
  • Roll on impact
  • Think about pets that may be downstairs. You should never sacrifice yourself for an animal, hard as it sounds
  • Be aware of the escape needs or special needs of the young, elderly and infirm
  • Keep a torch and phone by your bedside.

Open fires, heaters and appliances:

  • Make sure heaters cannot be knocked over
  • Use a spark proof guard in front of any open fire
  • Never dry clothes by draping across fire guards or heaters
  • Never leave children unattended near open fires and heaters
  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation
  • Unplug electrical items and close all doors and windows before going to bed
  • Beware of plug in air fresheners, they can overheat - only use reputable, branded products.

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Our advisors are available from
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