Given the recent events that took place on Maidstone’s Week Street, it is important to ensure that your business is at least somewhat protected from fire damage. Fortunately for the town, it wasn’t long until most of the street opened (with the exception of the targeted and neighbouring stores), but nonetheless have estimated to have lost millions from the street’s short closure. This shocking loss of the town’s revenue was due to the sheer number of daily visitors and the amount of stores that closed, estimating at over twenty five stores!
So what can you do to ensure the safety of your business in cases of fire?Given the events on Week street and now Bosley Mill this couldn’t be more relevant. Fire safety actually requires businesses to comply with fire safety and do all they can to ensure full protection from the blazes. It has been this way since The Regulatory Reform Order of 2005 (Dubbed fire safety). It states that the person who is in control or takes ownership of the place is responsible for any control or lack thereof in cases of fire. This reform not only holds people accountable, but also guides businesses in what they need to do to follow such laws and assists in taking precautions and assessments.
HSE states that: ‘Most fires are preventable. Those responsible for workplaces and other buildings to which the public have access can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviour’.
Although the blazes on Week Street are very different circumstances due to a case of arson, it does beg the question: Have businesses done enough to prevent this?
This all depends on how businesses are with their health and safety regulations, some are very strict while others can be a little more lenient in the way they deal with hazards.Before attempting to protect your business to the fullest extent it is imperative that you know what starts a fire. What starts a fire is a concoction of: Ignition, fuel and oxygen.
Examples of ignition sources are: flames, heaters and electrically powered equipment. So basically anything that emits a certain level of heat or power that has the potential to spark and/or catch alight.
Next is a source of fuel. This is anything that can allow fire to spread further and damage more areas. Examples of this are: Wood, paper, trees, etc.
As for the final piece of the puzzle there is no need for explanation, it’s the air we breathe. The higher level of oxygen there is, the more likely the flame will spread. What is even more dangerous is backdraught as if the low level of oxygen suddenly increases (For example: if a door or window opens during a smouldering fire) the flames will explode into a large flame heightening spread damage.So what else can take effect on how a fire can be caused and even act?The weather and the terrain in the area actually plays quite a large part in this. As we all know water can greatly reduce fire, but how does rainfall fair against the flames? This actually depends on the type of fuel as well as the level of rainfall obviously. Finer fuels have the ability to absorb moisture considerably quicker than the coarser fuels available.
As for how wind affects a fire? This fate is determined by where the fire is spread and the power of the wind. As wind is more or less giant pockets of impacting air it impacts the oxygen supply to the fire greatly. However, with this impact it directs the flame into the direction it is heading towards so that those areas of the fuel receive further ignition. That being said too much wind impacting a smaller fuel size can dry out the fuel and can actually prevent ignition.
So how can we prevent fires or stop them when they occur?We all know the general idea: Smoke detectors/alarms, extinguishers, fire exits, etc. But what else can be done beyond the average?
Fire Safety Risk Assessments: Employers must complete fire safety risk assessments, whether they are incorporated into general health and safety or assessed separately. These risk assessments must also be updated regularly so employees are in the know. The ideal place to check for health and safety is HawkSafe. They offer a variety of services including: Health & safety policies, workplace risk assessments, employee risk assessments and fire safety. However, these are only a selected amount of services they offer much more.
Separating ignition sources and fuels: This should go without saying as well as play a part in the risk assessment, but nonetheless it must be mentioned. Keep the sources apart from each other by quite a margin of distance to reduce the risk of engulfment.Fire Blankets: These may be designed to put out fires that are at their origin as opposed to being in full flame, but nonetheless fire blankets are useful when extinguishing smaller flames and are more commonly found in a household rather than a business. Regardless, this could increase fire safety in the workplace and lower accountability.
Trained Employees: All employees should be trained on what they need to follow in the cases of risks such as fire. This includes listening out for the fire drill and knowing the assembly area is in case of this.A business’ approach to refurbishing existing or new premises must also address Fire H & S regulations and this is referred to in our recent article which also incorporates the new CDM regulations of 2015 which states works must ensure workers and employers are safe.
Businesses must ensure safety to those that they employ and to clients visiting their premises.
Rap Interiors have ensured their approach to all office refurbishment projects is faultless and have been awarded Safecontractor for the 7th consecutive year for excellent health and safety protocols. Rap also have SSIP accreditation (Safety Schemes in Procurement).This not only protects our business but also allows our clients to trust our commitment to delivering design and build projects, employees included. Don’t forget your office safety signage!