Christmas Fire Safety for the Office: Our Top Tips
Christmas is all about having fun and spending time with friends and loved ones, something we all get into the spirit of throughout December. But whether you’re having an office party or your business is simply winding down for the festive season, fire safety should always be at the top of your agenda.
This month, we wanted to take a look at the areas of your office that will be of most concern when it comes to fire safety, along with how you can work to avoid risk and protect staff against the threat of fire so that we all have a truly merry Christmas.
Fire safety tips if you’re closed over Christmas
If your office is going to be closed over Christmas, be it for a few days or several weeks, you should check all fire risks are adequately dealt with before officially closing.
Several things you can do as a final checklist include:
- Turn off all electrical equipment
- Turn off portable heaters
- Check fire exits are clear
- Turn off all lighting
- Test your fire alarms and book in fire alarm maintenance
- Check your office is locked and secure (to lower the risk of arson)
On top of all this, you could take the time over the holiday period, where the office is generally emptier, to address any points from your most recent fire risk assessment to ensure you are legally compliant when it comes to fire safety.
Common Christmas Fire Safety Concerns in the Office
We’ve covered the topic of general office fire safety before, but this time around we want to talk about items and behaviours likely to create the most risk – or reduce it – at this time of the year. With each of these categories, we’ll provide some handy advice on how to avoid risk and improve protection.
Where you have electrical equipment, it’s important to ensure you’re always on top of PAT testing (if your electrical decorations are in storage when PAT testing takes place, make sure they’re available as part of the PAT regime). At this time of year you might also be moving things around – either to make room for decorations or to close down for the holidays – so make sure you aren’t inadvertently creating a hazard by putting something where it shouldn’t be or overloading sockets.
Electrical equipment is always a risk if used improperly; it can be both a source of heat and a source of ignition, which is why vigilance all year round is crucial.
Appropriate fire extinguishers in place to tackle electrical fires could save lives and property. CO2 fire extinguishers should be on hand if you have electrical items in your office – especially if you have a server room or data centre on site. Having the right extinguisher in place is crucial, but maintenance for your existing units is also a great way to ensure you’re prepared this Christmas.
It’s understandable that at this time of year people in your office will resort to using things like portable heaters to try and stay warm.
However, portable heaters pose a very real risk because of the amount of heat they produce, as well as because they’re electrical items.
Firstly, ensure that staff portable heaters are not blocked or confined, giving them enough room to disperse heat. Avoid placing them under desks, workbenches or near combustible items – and never block or stack items on them. You should also ensure that they are turned off at the end of the day.
PAT testing should be a regular feature for your office, checking all electrical items – including portable heaters – are in good working order to reduce the risk of fire. Also, ask staff not to bring their own heaters in as these may not be PAT tested, exposing your office to risk.Book a PAT Testing engineer
Sockets and Extension Cables
From the office essentials such as computers, printers and monitors, to those more festive items such as fairy lights and Christmas trees, you’re bound to be making use of multiple electrical sockets, and probably extension cables too. Misuse of these is often what causes overloading, leading to electrical fires.
Never daisy-chain extension cables together and always stick to the recommended voltage use in sockets and extensions (extension cables should not exceed 13 amps). Electrical testing is also worth investing in for your office to ensure you’re keeping staff safe.
In addition, you should ensure cables are not trailed through doorways. Just as importantly, check that floor cables are protected from damage and don’t become trip hazards by using cable covers.
Lights present a risk in your office because of the mix of electricity and heat – they’re actually one of the more common causes of office fires generally. At this time of year, you may have extra lights up as decorations, or paper decorations hanging near lights – both of these things create extra risk, so any Christmas decorations should be thought about carefully to avoid fire risks.
As previously mentioned, electrical testing for your building is crucial to mitigate the risk posed. Never overload sockets with extra lights, and plan to hang decorations away from your lighting to avoid them catching fire. When your office is closed, check all lighting has been turned off to eliminate the risk of them overheating.
Essential as part of your passive fire protection, fire doors are in place to provide secure exits out of the building in an emergency. At Christmas, it might be tempting to hang decorations on your doors or prop them open if you’re having any sort of party or festive gathering, but this should be avoided at all costs as it compromises the fire safety of your building.
Check your building has the right fire doors in the right places, as well as checking they’re being used properly – this is something a thorough fire risk assessment will pick up on. Maintenance for your fire doors is also a good idea to ensure they’re in good working order and that they could stand up to the test of a fire if one did occur.See our Fire Doors & Fire Exits
Fire Exit Signage
Fire exit signs are key to helping direct staff and visitors in the event of an emergency. They should allow for easy comprehension and should be strategically placed. This is especially important for people unfamiliar with your building if you’re having visitors or plus-one attendees for any gatherings.
Check all the appropriate fire signage is in place in your office, unimpeded by any Christmas decorations. You can also invest in fire warden training for your staff to ensure some key individuals can guide and lead an evacuation should it be required.See our Fire Signage
At City Fire Protection, we provide a whole range of fire safety services for offices in London and Birmingham, including:
- PAT testing
- Fire extinguisher supply and maintenance
- Fire door installation and maintenance
- Fire warden training
- Fire signage
- Fire alarm installation and maintenance
- Fire risk assessments
Call our professional team today on 0800 9981 908 to book an appointment with an engineer or to get a free quote for any of our services at any time of the year.Contact Our Team