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Business Safety Week 2019 

As of October 2006, Fire Safety standards became the responsibility of business owners.

This change replaced the previous Fire Certificate, which was issued as a means of showing legal compliance, with articles which explained what your (the employer’s) duties are, and how you are responsible for making sure you are keeping everybody on your premises safe. This can only be confirmed by you evidencing all measures in your control to reduce the risk of fire, and spread of fire, on your premises are being taken.

We appreciate starting, and maintaining, a business can be complex when it comes to achieving compliance with the necessary regulations.

A suitable and sufficient Fire Risk Assessment is fundamental to equipping you, the business owner, with a report of findings you can then action. Having these measures in place can give you confidence, as the person responsible for the safety of people on your premises, that you are meeting all the lawful requirements.

Unsure whether you have the relevant skills to conduct your own FRA? See below link to help you find a competent person to carry it out:

www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/Finding-fire-risk-assessor#Businesssafety19

We want to support you in achieving business success!

West Yorkshire & Rescue Service are supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council’s ‘Business Safety Week’ campaign, running from 9th – 15th September. We’re aiming to raise awareness of the support and help available to ensure businesses and responsible persons are complying with the law and making their companies, staff and visitors as safe as they can be from the risks of fire.

We want to help make small and medium sized businesses aware of their fire safety responsibilities, by providing help and advice that is available all year round to
support them.

We understand that some smaller businesses may find the challenge of understanding the complexities of fire safety regulation to be a
daunting task, so we want to assist those to overcome this challenge, in an open and supportive way.

We’re encouraging local business communities to engage in conversations that will help them overcome any uncertainties on how to fulfill their fire safety responsibilities.

The campaign runs from 9th – 15th September with the main themes as
• Preventing Arson
• Reducing False Alarms
• Preventing Common Causes of Business Fires and
• Protecting Sleeping Accommodation

September presents the ideal time for businesses to get smarter with their fire safety management, to use the support to get it right from the star, rather than face action in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the festive season.

Other ideas

Use your contacts! Talk with neighbouring businesses to share best practice within your community.

Spread the word! Set up Business or Tenant Forums to share your knowledge- networking helps build your relationships, both with other businesses and neighbours.

Ask! If after reading the above guidance, there is an area you feel you need more explanation of then liaise with your Local FRS.

Lastly, remember- It may seem labour intensive, but you must understand your duties to ensure you are acting responsibly, and complying with the law.

We are here to help. We want your premises to be successful and safe, just like you do.

Preventing Arson

West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, NFCC and Arson Prevention Forum (APF) are committed improving safety and assisting you to trade
safely to reduce arson and the significant impact it could have on your business.
Below is a snap shot of best practice advice that can greatly reduce the potential of your business becoming affected by arson.

Good housekeeping
• ‘Waste Management’ should be considered in your Fire Risk Assessment. Waste and rubbish (free fuel) should be in secure
areas/bins, away from buildings, and NOT be accessible through perimeter fencing.
• DO NOT place skips, recycling or bins under eaves or canopies of buildings.
• DO NOT use entrance ways, shop fronts, entry and exit points as delivery points when closed, and likewise DO NOT use these
areas for leaving out next day waste collection points.
• Having a clean external site with open spaces clear of clutter is less interesting to opportunist snooping criminals.

 

Preventing Arson-

Statistics show Arson crime accounts for around 8.9% of all crimes committed within our county of West Yorkshire.

(ref: http://www.plumplot.co.uk/West-Yorkshire-criminal-damage-and-arson-crime-statistics.html)

Successfully, and quickly(!), rebuilding your business in the aftermath of fire depends entirely on the contingencies you have put in place.

Are you aware of, and taking, all measures to protect your business from Arson risks?

‘What can I do?’

 

Think the 3 ‘S’s:

 

Security-

Ask around- Have your neighbouring businesses been victims of arson?

Are your doors, windows and fencing safeguards secured when you close for the day?

Have you considered potential ways arsonists may breach these?

Are additional alarms/security measures necessary?

What could be fuel to an arsonists fire? Keep storage bins secured and fireloading levels as low as possible. Do you need to arrange more frequent waste collection to prevent combustibles posing as opportunities to Arsonists?

 

Separation-

What could be fuel to an arsonists fire? Keep storage bins secured separately from your premises.

Are fire-loading levels as low as possible? Do you need to arrange more frequent waste collection to prevent combustibles posing as opportunities to Arsonists?

Do your gardening! Make sure trees and bushes are well maintained.  This will prevent risk of them being an easy source of fuel to light- and prevents ‘out of sight’ areas which Arsonists may be attracted to.

 

Surveillance-

Arsonists do not want to be seen. Security lighting allows you to see who is on your premises at all times; this is a huge deterrant for criminals.

Is your smoke detection linked to a monitoring centre? This should be in place for the FRS to attend as soon as possible; minimising the extent of damages.

More eyes mean safer premises! Would employing a security guard be a cost effective risk reduction measure? Or the use of visible CCTV cameras? Both allow for strict monitoring of activity when your premises are unoccupied and most at risk.

 

Reducing False Alarms-

Do you have an appropriate Alarm system which meets your business needs?

Alarm systems require competent installation, management and maintenance to avoid disruptions to your business through false activations.

The current callout costs incurred to facilitate attendance of crews £385. Could your business afford this financial burden?

If, over a 12 month period, WYFRS are required to attend your premises for false alarm activations more than 3 times, the costs the Fire Service incur may unfortunately need to be paid by you.

Over a year, one local business has had to pay over £2700 for Fire Crew attendances to false fire alarm activations, as they had not gained the correct advice on an effective alarm system that effectively met their business needs.

 

‘What can I do?’

Having a fit for purpose Alarm system prevents this. Your Fire Risk Assessment will determine what is an adequate system to provide the level of protection required to ensure the safety of your customers and employees.

Protect your premises
• Arson should be a key consideration in your Fire Risk Assessment; Perimeter security, Security lighting, CCTV reduce
opportunist intrusion.
• Consider installing external mail boxes at perimeter fencing, blanking off door letterboxes or fitting anti-arson letterboxes on
entry doors.
• Make sure you know who is on your site at all times – this means visitors and staff having signing in and out procedures.

Involve and inform your staff
Staff are a big asset to your business security arrangements. Developing a vigilant workforce who support compliance with your fire
safety and business security procedures will help healthy business growth and general operations.
When closing for the day may sure staff have procedures for closing down and securing up before leaving the building and site.
Make sure your staff know about fire prevention and its importance to you, having a way of reporting concerns will help improve
operations.

Further advice can be obtained from your local Fire Service and the APF website: insert your FRS website address here
www.stoparsonuk.org

Reducing False Alarms

False Alarm
A false alarm is a fire alarm signal resulting from a cause other than a fire, in which an alarm has actuated
• A fire like phenomenon or environmental influence
• Accidental damage.
• Inappropriate human action
• Equipment false alarms, in which the fire alarm has resulted from a fault in the system. A false alarm becomes an
UwFS at the point a FRS attends and confirms the actuation was a false alarm.

Impact of false alarms 

• Disruption of business (downtime, time wasted, loss of business and theft).
• Erode user’s confidence in the value and reliability of AFA systems and discourage people from taking these systems seriously.
• False alarms unnecessarily transmitted to FAMOs impacts on their resources. Whilst dealing with false alarm alerts, operators are unavailable to
deal with real emergencies.
Impact of Unwanted Fire Signals
• Diverting essential services from emergencies (putting life and property at risk).
• Cost to business of retained fire fighters being released.
• Unnecessary risk to crew & public whilst responding (accidents).
• Disruption to arson reduction, prevention, community safety (education, domestic smoke alarm fitting) & business support activities.
• Disruption to training of operational personnel.
• Impact on the environment of unnecessary appliance movements (noise, air and traffic pollution).
• Drain on public finances.
• The impact on Responsible Persons (RP) where persistent mismanagement of fire alarm signals has resulted in withdrawal of AFA attendance.
• Financial impact on premises where FRS apply charging for attending false alarms.

Protecting Sleeping Accommodation-

Are you responsible for anyone sleeping above your premises?

Do you live above commercial premises?

Fire risks work both ways!

Whether you are a business owner letting out residential accommodation above your premises or the tenant who is paying the rent, responsible practices are essential to keeping everybody safe.

 

Business Owners/Landlords-

Compliance with the law depends on you fulfilling your duties. Your tenants and employees are depending on you confirming your premises are safe.

The last measure FRS’s want to resort to is prohibiting the use of your business. If your premises are poorly managed, without protected escape routes available at all times it is occupied, this would be the only option.

 

What can I do?

Think ‘Separation’:

Do tenants have a separate way out of the above accommodation?

Or is the only way in and out through your below business?

An entirely separate entrance is the ideal

Not possible?

You must have measures in place to confirm an entirely free and easy to access means of escape is available at all times.

All a potentially fatal fire needs to thrive is Fuel, Oxygen and Heat. Keep these sources separate.

Many businesses in West Yorkshire offer accommodation within the same building. It’s vital that this sleeping accommodation is safe & protected against risk including fire.

If you live above a business, make sure your exit routes are clear and clutter free, not used as over-spill storage areas.

Thing’s to look out for:

Are communal areas holding outside space used to store stock or rubbish?

Do you have clear unobstructed escape routes?

Is there an alarm which is audible over the entire property?

Is there accumulated rubbish around the premises?

Are commercial and residential premises separated correctly?

Suspect an issue? Contact us.

Areas where fire could start must be separated by undamaged walls and doors. Fire must not be able to spread between different areas of building as a whole. Is each area where fire could start managed to a standard which means it is capable of stopping spread to any other rooms/areas?

Use the following checklist (whilst walking the full extent of your premises and shared areas!) as a quick reference guide to what you are looking out for :

Gaps and holes-

Have your tenants had alterations to the flats? Treated themselves to Sky, even?!  Keep communications open! Service breaches that are not adequately sealed leave openings for deadly products of combustion to spread, and quickly!

Are all your fire doors doing their jobs? Check they remain undamaged, are easily openable without any form of keys and that they close fully into their frames.

Is the means of raising the alarm you have in place effective? Does everybody respond appropriately during your fire drills?

Are all of the above-mentioned arson prevention measures being put in place?

 

Does this all seem overwhelming?!

It is appreciated that you may not feel confident in making this assessment- see below links for CLG guidance on a step by step of what your FRA needs to detail.

Unsure if you have the relevant skills and knowledge? Find an issue and unsure what to do next? Keep Calm and C…all a competent contractor or third party Fire Risk Assessment company! Never take the risk, help is always available.

Remember- seek immediate, competent help and you have no need to panic. Keeping a note of the issues you have found, and what you are doing to fix them, is the essence of constantly keeping your Fire Risk Assessment up to date. Always get works signed off by your contractor and keep certificates and receipts for jobs undertaken in your Fire Safety folder.

Regular checks on ALL areas that people may need to use to escape in an emergency is fundamental. These regular checks prevent bad practices becoming habits (from your employees or tenants!) and stops you becoming complacent in your duties.

Separate your business from risk!

You are responsible for this.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

Document how well you are performing your duties as the Responsible Person! Not only will this make any Enforcing Authority visits far less daunting, but it means less time will be taken evidencing how you are achieving compliance. Win win!

How can I do it?

There are a guides made available from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).  This collection (freely and publicly available) pulls together all guidance documents relating to fire safety law where businesses are concerned.

See below link for further insight into:

  • How to comply with fire safety law
  • How to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment
  • How to make sure you know what precautions you need to have in place to protect from fire.

Ref: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fire-safety-law-and-guidance-documents-for-business

 

Need more help to carry out your Fire Risk Assessment?

Get help. Take time to read through the below WYFRS Public Advice Note. This will help make sure you choose a competent Fire Risk Assessor:

Preventing Common Causes of Business Fires

Staff are key to preventing fires in the workplace.

Electrical fires account for around 33% of the accidental fires in the UK workplace. These fires can be due to electrical faults or misuse of electrical equipment.

Employers should make sure equipment is installed and maintained and used correctly. This applies to equipment at work whether owned or leased by the business.

Maintenance depends on the type of appliance. Simple checks such as visual checks for loose or frayed wires or signs of overheating such as discoloration can be sufficient.

The electricity at work regulations 1989 require that any electrical equipment that has the potential to cause injury is maintained in a  safe condition. NFCC recommend Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) as an effective method for demonstrating electrical safety compliance.

Staff should be trained to look out for any problems with equipment and have a system of reporting and logging faulty equipment. If equipment shouldn’t be used it should be labelled and disposed of or maintained appropriately.

Some electrical fires in the workplace can be caused by human error. Ensure sockets are not overloaded and switch off and unplug unused equipment. Don’t block fan vents on electrical equipment.

Combustible materials should be kept away from electrical appliances and sources of heat to reduce the risk of fire.

What are the most common causes of fire likely to affect your business?

Faulty Equipment- Inspect your whole workplace regularly so any faulty electrical are discovered, and therefore fixed, as quickly as possible. Involve your workforce in these daily checks to remain vigilant.

Storage & Clutter- Buildup of unnecessary dust and dirt, especially in non-ventilated areas, can encourage rapid fire spread. Consistent cleaning prevents this grime from encouraging appliances to overheat- and prolongs the lifespan of your expensive equipment!

Human Error-  Workplaces are often busy with heavy reliance on electrical equipment from computers and printers in offices, to large heavy duty appliances in warehouses and factories. Plus, the more employees you have, the more use the kettle gets! Misuse of equipment or complacency in everyday tasks can lead to accidents easily occurring. We’ve all burnt the toast or had to double check we turned everything off after a busy day!

More here: https://www.wyfs.co.uk/your-safety/work/fire-risk-assessments/

What can I do?

Have you provided your staff with the right level of training to make sure the correct procedures are always fully understood and followed? This teamwork ethic goes a long way to making sure hazards, and potential risks, are picked up on ASAP. This keeps all your employees (and buildings!) as safe as possible.

Possibility of Arson? Think (and review!) the 3 S’s, as detailed in above.