Business Safety Week from 5-11 September

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service gives their top tips on how to help keep your business safe.

Business Safety Week
Essex Country Fire and Rescue Service
Essex is home to thousands of businesses - small, medium and large - and the Fire Service works to help businesses stay safe. Whether you're a pub landlord, a hairdresser or a mechanic, the Fire Service can help you stay safe and compliant.

Station Manager Tim Rickard, Business Engagement Manager at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We want to work with businesses to help keep your colleagues and customers safe from fire. We actively work with business to help them meet their legal responsibilities.  Enforcement is a last resort and very rare given our positive engagement with business. If you're a business owner in Essex, we want to help you comply with the law and reduce your risk of fire. If you're unsure of what your responsibilities are or need some advice, our team can help you. Please give us a call and we can give you advice to make sure your business is as safe as it can be. You can find the phone number for your nearest protection team here on our website."

To help make sure your business is safe, the Fire Service has given its top tips below.

Check out the National Fire Chiefs Council's Business Safety Awareness Tool

The Business Fire Safety Awareness Tool was launched by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) in March 2022.

The tool is free to use and can help you understand your legal duties around fire safety in the workplace. This can help to inform your Fire Risk Assessment.

The tool is available for small businesses and can be accessed via the NFCC website: https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/Business-fire-safety-awareness-tool

Review your fire risk assessment

Make sure your Fire Risk Assessment has been reviewed and reflects the way your premises currently operates. For example, if staff numbers have increased or decreased, this should be recorded in the risk assessment along with the impact of the change and any additional measures required to mitigate the change in risk.

Review your staff training

Make sure all of your staff - new and existing - are aware of general fire safety within the premises, for example what to do on discovering a fire, what to do when hearing the fire alarm, the location of escape routes, keeping exits clear etc.

Review your evacuation procedures

If staff numbers have increased, are there sufficient exits? Do any new staff members or customers require assistance with evacuating the building? If staff numbers have reduced, are there sufficient trained staff members to assist with evacuation as necessary? (roll calls, fire warden sweeps, moving/assisting residents etc.) Are all of your evacuation routes still available? (including any routes shared with other businesses).

Consider lone workers

If you have fewer people working within the premises you should consider how they will be warned of a fire occurring, is the fire alarm and detection system suitable to raise the alarm of people working alone and in remote locations on site?

Consider the testing & maintenance of fire safety systems

Fire safety equipment and systems such as fire alarm and detection systems, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, sprinklers etc. need to be regularly tested and maintained to ensure they are kept in good working order.

If your premises are occupied you should ensure routine tests such as weekly fire alarm tests, monthly emergency lighting tests etc. continue and that you have a sufficient number of people who are trained to do this to cover for sickness and/or absence. If your premises has been left unoccupied for a period of time, all equipment should be checked and functioning before it is reoccupied.

Keep escape routes clear

Escape routes should be kept clear at all times and final exit doors should be easily openable. Nothing should obstruct escape routes, keep them clear at all times.

Fire doors

Please do NOT wedge open fire doors. Fire doors are a very important part of protecting people within a premises and need to remain closed.

Protect your premises from arson

Please make sure the premises are secure and any combustibles left externally are removed from site or stored securely. Do not store combustible items close to the premises.

Staff working from home?

Encourage your staff to consider fire safety in their own homes. Lots of safety advice can be found at www.essex-fire.gov.uk