Office Fire Safety: What You Need To Know
Whether you’re using your office right now or not, office fire safety is of paramount importance. All the different facets of fire safety – from fire extinguishers to fire alarm systems – play their part in protecting people in your building from danger.
This month, at City Fire Protection we’ll talk about office fire safety, covering who is responsible, the common hazards you might encounter and how a fire risk assessment could help keep your business safe and compliant.
Who is responsible for fire safety in my office?
The responsible person for your office could be one of a few different people depending on the workplace. It’s ordinarily either the owner, employer or occupier for the premises (if you’re renting your office space, you should liaise and co-ordinate with your landlord or building manager to ensure all aspects of fire safety are covered). This person is responsible for a number of things within your office, including:
- Informing staff or representatives about risks identified
- Putting in place and maintaining fire safety measures for the office
- Planning for an office emergency
- Providing information and training for staff on fire safety
- Carrying out a fire risk assessment with regular reviews
Did you know?
If you fail to follow fire safety regulations you could be handed a £5,000 fine for a minor penalty, or face an unlimited fine plus two years in prison for major penalties.
Common fire safety hazards in office spaces
You might think of your office space as a fairly safe place to be, and the chances are it is. But when it comes to fire safety, it’s often the things you don’t take into consideration – or which you take for granted – which pose a hazard.
For example, an office might be filled with electrical equipment all the time with no issues, but it only takes one faulty piece of equipment to create a fire. That’s why it’s important to check equipment for faults and ensure that lighting isn’t too close to flammable items. PAT testing for your portable appliances can help ensure all equipment in your office is safe and identify items that may need replacing due to faults.
Does your office face a battle over the air conditioning? This inevitably leads some staff feeling cold, which means they turn to portable heaters. Careful consideration should be given to these as the intense heat can inadvertently create a hazard if placed too close to waste bins or in confined spaces without ventilation.
In addition to the office equipment you supply, you may also find people bring in personal equipment, such as phone chargers, which are not PAT tested and may not be CE marked. This can compromise the safety of your office space.
Not having properly planned your evacuation routes is also a common hazard. You might think people know where to go, but without a plan, there could be serious consequences as a swift, safe exit is vital to avoid the loss of lives. Keeping these routes clear of combustibles is also vitally important for offices – these routes should not be used for storage.
Poor provision of fire exit signage or fire action notices is another avoidable hazard common in offices. This signage can help with the safe evacuation of a building, as well as directing staff and visitors to where the correct assembly point is. On top of this, not having the right equipment in place for the safe evacuation of disabled persons is also something offices need to consider as this is required under the Equality Act 2010.
Even the small things like wedging a fire door open can be dangerous in the office, as you may be compromising compartmentalisation which holds back the fire from spreading while an evacuation plan is put into action.
Did you know?
The top three causes of fires in office spaces according to the London Fire Brigade are: Electrical distribution 32%, lighting 14% and smoking-related 11%.
Fire risk assessments for offices
Because of the above, a fire risk assessment for your office is a must (along with a proper evacuation plan). Your fire risk assessment should be performed by a competent person, with the complexity of office buildings often requiring experienced, third-party assessors in order for them to be carried out properly. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order states that a fire risk assessment should be carried out with regularity and should be kept up to date – especially when there are any changes to the building or business.
At City Fire Protection, we can help you carry out a comprehensive fire risk assessment for your office when you need it – simply contact us for more details.
Did you know?
If you’re planning to change the layout or usage of your office space when returning after COVID-19, a fire risk assessment is recommended to ensure your fire safety measures are adequate and up-to-date.
The importance of proper fire safety training for office staff
A lot of the risks for office spaces when it comes to fire safety can be combated with proper fire safety training. Whether it’s regular fire drills to ensure everyone knows their nearest escape route or fire warden training to provide your office with go-to members of staff for fire safety, at City Fire Protection, we can help.
This training will not only reduce confusion and increase confidence, but it could help to save lives.
Our range of fire safety training options can be explored on our dedicated page. We only use experienced, qualified specialists for all our training, so you can rest assured that your office will be well protected and that your team will know what to do in an emergency.
Did you know? According to government statistics, in the year 2019/20, there were 410 accidental fires and 65 deliberate fires in offices and call centres in the UK.
At City Fire Protection, we provide commercial fire protection services for London and Birmingham. Simply contact us today to discuss everything from fire safety training and risk assessments to fire alarm systems and extinguishers – we’re always happy to assist you in protecting your office.