Office Fire Safety Guide
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires UK offices to implement the following safety measures:
- A fire risk assessment
- A designated ‘responsible person’
- Suitable fire extinguishers
- Fire safety signage
- Designated fire marshals/wardens
- Fire safety training for your team
Most offices will also require a fire alarm system, emergency lighting and fire doors.
All of the above safety measures are required to ensure fire hazards are mitigated and staff, property and assets are kept safe.
If you’re a business owner, landlord, employer or occupier, it is up to you to ensure sufficient fire safety protocols are in place — or else you could be in breach of the law. In this article, we take a look at some of these safety measures in greater detail.
Fire risk assessment
A fire risk assessment is a detailed review of your premises. It identifies the various fire hazards found throughout your business and details the most suitable measures required to mitigate them.
A fire risk assessment should be carried out by a competent person or a professional. The assessment must provide an action plan for all issues found and provide a date at which they are each to be addressed.
A fire risk assessment must be reviewed at least every 12 months, and may even be reviewed sooner if substantial changes are made to the layout of the building.
Some of the elements to evaluate in a fire risk assessment include:
- Fire drills
- Fire extinguishers
- Escape routes
- Fire alarm systems
Suitable fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are your first line of defence against a fire in the office. However, it’s important that you have the right type of fire extinguisher installed. Different types of fires require different extinguishers — using the wrong type can aggravate the flames.
General offices will require a minimum of two water-based extinguishers per floor. Water extinguishers are best for tackling flames caused by combustible materials such as paper and wood.
Dry powder or CO2 extinguishers may also be necessary. These extinguishers are best for tackling flames caused by electrical equipment such as computers and generators.
Fire safety signage
Fire safety signage provides instructions and directions for how to act safely should a fire occur. Offices in the UK must have visible BS 5499 fire safety signs around their premises.
There four main types of fire safety signs in the UK:
- Fire action notices
- Fire exit route directors
- Fire equipment locators
- Warning and prohibition safety signs
Exactly which signs you will need depends on the layout of your offices. This should be assessed and detailed in your fire risk assessment.
Fire safety training
Fire safety training involves performing evacuation drills and assigning designated fire marshals to facilitate the safe evacuation of all staff.
The number of evacuation drills may depend on the size of the premises. Multi-level buildings typically carry out a fire evacuation drill once per year. However, all staff should be aware of what to do in the event of a fire. New staff should be provided with all relevant fire safety information at their induction.
Fire marshals are designated employees who take a leading role in ensuring visitors and staff are evacuated safely. They require fire marshal certification, which can be achieved through a short training course — usually half a day.
The responsibilities of a fire marshal include:
- Raising the alarm and directing everyone to evacuate using the safest route
- Checking all accessible spaces to make sure that everyone has been evacuated
- Assisting with evacuation, for example helping those who are disabled or vulnerable
- Taking measures to prevent the fire from spreading, for example closing doors and windows where safe
- Using an extinguisher to fight the fire if it is safe to do so
- Attending assembly points and taking a head count
Fire alarms are one of the most important elements of fire safety in an office. Businesses should have fire alarm systems tailored to the layout of the premises.
There are a variety of different commercial fire alarm systems, including:
- Conventional fire alarm systems
- Wireless fire alarm systems
- Hybrid fire alarm systems
- Monitored fire alarm systems
Monitored fire alarm systems are ideal for protecting your office even when the premises are vacant. These systems are connected to an independent alarm monitoring company that will keep an eye on the status of your premises 24/7. Should the alarm activate, the independent monitoring company can contact the fire protection services for an immediate response.
A.T Alarms is a leading provider of commercial fire alarm systems throughout the UK. We’re an NSI Fire Gold approved company and are accredited for the design, installation, maintenance and commissioning of fire alarm systems for commercial applications. We strive to supply the perfect fire alarm system for your business, and will continue to protect your business with professional maintenance and regular aftercare following installation.
Don’t settle for less than the best. Protect your business today with a fire alarm system from A.T. Alarms. Get your free no-obligation quote today.