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Why An Effective Fire Safety Strategy Is Vital For Your Business

May 22, 2008
Annually millions of pounds are lost after the effects of fire, more importantly however lives are lost and people are injured. Hence having effective fire safety procedures in your business or workplace is not only a matter of regulatory compliance, but also of conscience.

Fundamentally fire is caused when three basic elements come together; these are fuel, heat and oxygen. Whilst nothing can be done about the oxygen element, fuel for the fire can be limited. Fuel is anything that is flammable, paper, wood and electrical devices are all material that will burn efficiently. Subsequently your safety plan should incorporate ways in which to limit the concentration of combustible materials in any one place. Your legally demanded fire risk assessment will highlight these issues. Ignition sources and heat also need to be contained and recognised to achieve effective fire safety procedures.

As a business owner or manager it is important, and legally demanded that you should have an effective fire safety strategy in place. Fundamental in these procedures should be the ways in which fire is reported. Your staff members should be aware that a fire should be reported no matter how small it may seem, evacuation can take time and having notification early on is vital for members of staff and anyone else to get out in good time.

While not all members of staff will be fully trained to use fire extinguishers, an effective safety measure is to identify each of the extinguishers in a workplace and ensure staff understand which type will suit the various forms of fire. Generally you should stand around eight feet away and aim it at the base of the fire, always remembering that if you are not fighting the fire effectively, get to safety before it is too late. Legally extinguishers should be checked regularly to ensure they are in good working order and will not fail when the time for use arises.

Part of your fire safety strategy should be concerned with prevention; your risk assessment will include this aspect. This assessment will include a list of potential fire risks in any working area and their vicinity to ignition sources. Fire safety literature should also be given to staff member for them to read and remember.

Personally, they can prevent fire by smoking in designated areas and ensuring their cigarette butts are put out completely. The same can be said for equipment ensuring it is clear of combustible materials and generally clean. For electrical equipment, checking plugs and wires is important, noticing any frayed parts that may be susceptible to fire. Other than that, ensuring that flammable materials are kept separate from ignition sources and are disposed of in a correct manner will help prevent fire. While your health and safety regulations will probably cover these kinds of points, it is important to make sure procedures are being followed and that members of understand why they must follow these procedures.

Part of your responsibilities as a manager is to ensure your staff member have an effective escape route should a fire break out. Safety is your major concern so jumping out the window and running across rooftops is not a viable solution to this type of problem. Once again, your fire risk assessment will provide you with advice on how to make the most of your escape routes.

As the fire risk assessment and more generally fire safety protocols become a larger part of managerial responsibility legally, it is important to follow the law. For the sake of your business, and more importantly the safety of your staff members it is vital you have an effective strategy put in place that not only actively works at preventing the risk of fire, but also has procedures in place ensuring the safety of staff, should a fire break out.
About the Author
Regulatory compliance expert Thomas Pretty looks into the responsibilities of managers to ensure effective fire safety procedures are in followed in the workplace.
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