You may be already aware that, following a ballot, members of the Fire Brigade’s Union (England and Wales) will go on strike on Wednesday 25th September from 12noon to 4pm. In the parts of the U.K. affected, it may well be that the fire and rescue services will not be able to respond to 999 calls promptly. Where they can respond, with their limited resources, priority will be given to incidents where lives are at risk. This means that they may not be able to respond to incidents where only property is being damaged.
Please remember that a fire service strike does not increase the risk of fire occurring, but for the reasons explained it is very important that, during strike periods, businesses make every effort to reduce the chance of a fire occurring and to reduce its ability to spread quickly. Lives may depend upon how good precautions and fire safety management procedures are.
Below are some key measures that commercial property owners should ensure are in place and maintained at all times, especially during a fire strike.
- Review your fire risk assessment and consider whether it is suitable and sufficient considering a delayed fire emergency response;
- Inform all your staff that in the event of a fire emergency 999 should be called in the normal way;
- If you store and use flammable materials ensure that only minimal amounts are used and keep products stored in designated store area;
- Carry out a fire evacuation drill to ensure all staff are aware of what action needs to be taken, consider what means are in place to assist vulnerable occupants, e.g. disabled persons, children and/or elderly persons. Take action to improve fire drill response if required;
- Test that your fire alarm system is fully operational before the fire strike begins;
- If you are planning any maintenance works in your premises which involves ‘hot working’ e.g. use of naked flames, heat, etc. then consider postponing this until after the strike, if they do need to be conducted consider any extra precautions you may need to reduce the risk of fire;
- Postpone any scheduled maintenance work on your fire alarm, emergency lighting system or other fire safety equipment;
- If you have commercial kitchens ensure that any extract ducting systems are clean inside and free of accumulation of grease;
- Do not overload electrical sockets and extension leads;
- Keep waste bins and skips which are outside the premises secure and at least 10 metres away from the building or perimeter boundary;
- Ensure your site is secure to deter trespassers;
- If you have passenger lifts within your premises ensure your staff are aware of how to manually release anyone who is trapped or getting assistance from your lift maintenance company;
- Keep fire doors closed and ensure they close correctly onto their rebates;
- Keep fire exit doors clear of obstructions at all times and ensure they can be easily opened during an evacuation without the use of a key.
Please note that this list is not definitive, it is important that the relevant persons responsible for premises fire safety ensure that your fire safety measures are in place. If you require any further advice or assistance contact ProAktive on 01302 341344.