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Fire safety is enforced primarily by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, and should you require further help or advise you should contact them.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 emphasises preventing fires and reducing risk and makes it the responsibility of the proprietor to ensure the safety of everyone who uses their premises and in the immediate vicinity.
All businesses must now undertake a risk assessment, there are 3 main areas to consider;
As part of your fire risk assessment, you may have concluded that a Fire Alarm is necessary to adequately warn people of outbreaks of fire.
Fire Alarms and warning systems can be broken down into 3 major types:
1. Manual system
If the workplace is small and open plan, and it is unlikely that a fire could occur without being noticed and detected at a very early stage, then there may be no need to have a sophisticated fire alarm as a shouted warning, fire bell or gong may be sufficient.
2. Electrical system
In slightly larger premises, where the layout or size of the workplace mean that some people may not hear a shouted warning or simple bell, or, if large numbers of people need to be warned, then an electrical system is likely to be required. Such systems usually contain a system of warning devices (electric sirens, bells or klaxons) which are activated by the ‘break-glass’ type call-point method. This need not include any automatic fire detectors if there are plenty of people about in all areas of the premises, and it is unlikely that a fire could occur without being noticed and detected at a very early stage
3. Automatic system
In premises where fire could start and grow undetected to the extent where escape from any area of the building may be compromised, then an automatic system is likely to be required. The range and coverage of these systems vary considerably dependant on the premises. These systems are usually designed and installed to recognised standards and codes and consequently expert advice should be sought. Premises where there is a sleeping risk (e.g. Hospitals, Residential Care Homes, Hotels and Boarding Houses, etc) or where parts of the premises are rarely visited or occupied are examples of premises that are particularly likely to need an automatic system.
As part of your fire risk assessment, you may have concluded that Emergency Lighting is necessary to adequately illuminate the escape routes from the premises in order for people to safely use the escape routes. Where escape routes rely upon artificial lighting of any kind to be used safely, you should consider the introduction of an Emergency Lighting system to illuminate them in case of a mains electricity power failure, whether that is due to a fire or any other reason. People can become disorientated if plunged into darkness, especially in an emergency situation.
If your premises are never occupied during the hours of darkness and have adequate natural lighting through windows, etc., then you may not need to provide emergency lighting. Even if your premises are used at night, there may be sufficient ‘borrowed’ light from street lighting to illuminate the escape routes. You may wish to provide torches or other forms of temporary (emergency) lighting in very small premises. However, you would have to decide within your risk assessment whether these are realistically going to be adequate, and if so, you should put procedures in place to make sure that they will be available and serviceable when required. These methods are unlikely to be adequate if your premises have complicated escape routes, staircases, or if members of the public are present (as they will be unfamiliar with the building).
As part of your fire risk assessment, you should consider whether, in the event of a fire occurring, all persons in the premises could leave safely and reach a place of safety.
If your premises are small and have a simple layout the normal entrances and exits may be sufficient. There should be no possibility of anyone being cut off by smoke or flames before they can make their escape.
In premises where no one sleeps and the risk of fire is considered normal, 18metres is the furthest that people should normally be expected to travel in one direction to a point where they have alternative escape route options. This travel distance may be extended, but further fire safety provisions would be needed.
Large or multi-storey premises
Where the building increases in size and complexity, escape routes need to become more sophisticated.
The golden rule is that people should be able to turn their back on a fire, wherever it may start in a building, and move away from the fire to a safe place, usually this means outside the building and a safe distance from it in case the fire grows (i.e. not into an enclosed yard, courtyard, quadrangle, etc.). Where there are two or more escape routes, care should be taken to ensure that smoke and flames cannot affect more than one escape route at the same time.
In all premises
Escape routes should be kept clear of all obstructions. Generally, escape routes should be at least one metre wide.
The escape route should lead to a place of safety, normally outside and away from the building.
Doors on escape routes must always be available for use without the use of a key.
Depending on the risk, push pads or panic bar devices should be used. Security should never take precedence over safety. Many devices are now available that satisfy both safety and security requirements. Where there are roller shutters or security grills fitted, these must be open when persons are on the premises
When considering the escape routes from your place of work, be sure that you have evaluated the entire journey to a place of safety. Keep all routes clear, including areas outside your premises that are included in the escape route.
Make sure your employees are aware of all possible escape routes and practice using them as part of your emergency routines regularly.
All premises should have an escape plan that clearly identifies the action that employees and others should take in the event of a fire. This may include duties for employees to check areas are clear, close doors and assist others.
If there are disabled persons on your premises then you must take their needs into account when planning an evacuation strategy.
You may have to take into account a wide range of possible disabilities including persons who have less mobility simply because of age.
Managing escape routes
When specific escape routes are provided that do not form part of normal circulation routes it is important that these employees are made aware of these. A management system should be in place to ensure these routes and exits are kept clear and usable.
If you require help with something in this section, please contact us.