Business Fire Safety and Social Distancing during COVID-19
Jun 22, 2020
During this unprecedented time of COVID-19 outbreak, we urge businesses to take extra care to safeguard themselves and remain vigilant, especially those businesses who are changing how their premises are used in Northamptonshire.
Whilst additional control measures to protect against COVID-19 are crucial, fire safety should also remain a priority for businesses. With thorough attention, it is possible to balance both of these threats.
ISE Fire will continue to provide business fire safety advice during this time, and links guide to other helpful areas of our website, to give you further information:
Business Fire Safety during COVID-19
A document from NFCC (National Fire Chiefs Council) can be found here, to give further fire safety advice for businesses.
Regardless of whether local businesses have remained open during COVID-19 outbreak, risk assessments still require to be in place, as risks are changing along with the new environments.
Fire Risk Assessments during COVID-19
Responsible persons are reminded that they are responsible for:
- ensuring fire safety.
- protective and preventative measures.
- the safety of any employees and relevant persons on their premises.
Your fire risk assessment should be reviewed regularly, as the Coronavirus situation continually changes. Considerations during this time should include:
- Staffing levels should be maintained to ensure the emergency plan can be effectively managed.
- Any contingency planning should include emergency evacuation.
- Where stock piling of essentials has become necessary, this increases the fire loading. Ensure that this does not come into contact with ignition sources i.e. light fittings, and does not compromise the means of escape.
- Maintain physical fire safety measures to prevent fire spread.
- Business are advised to follow Public Health guidance, particularly hand washing and social distancing.
- Staff to be extra vigilant to prevent accidental fires, separating ignition sources from combustible items, etc.
Further detailed guidance on fire safety law and guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fire-safety-law-and-guidance-documents-for-business.
Considerations for Businesses during COVID-19
For businesses that remain open, owners should bear the following in mind:
- Ensure that fire alarms are tested weekly and emergency lights tested monthly
- Check daily to ensure that emergency exits are accessible and that fire alarm points are unobstructed
- Ensure any new or temporary staff have had fire safety training and awareness
- Be vigilant of any potential hazards or risk, particularly where staffing levels have reduced or if staff are working alone or in an isolated environment
For businesses that have closed, owners can reduce the risk of fire by ensuring:
- Entrances and exits are kept clear
- Rubbish and commercial bins are emptied and stored securely away from any buildings
- Any excessive amounts of stock are not stored in a hazardous manner
- All utilities are isolated where possible - if unable to isolate electricity, plus should be removed from sockets
- Buildings are secure, with the usual measures in place to prevent arson
- Doors are kept closed
- Any CCTV covering the building is functioning correctly
If a fire warning and detection system at your premises is linked to an alarm collecting centre - they should be advised that the building will be empty and be given up to date contact details of managers.
If there's a fire and you haven't met your legal duties to keep people safe, you could be fined and may even spend time in prison. Learn about your legal obligations hereif you are a company based in the Northamptonshire or Milton Keynes area.