The issue of fire safety has been well documented in recent weeks, unfortunately for the wrong reasons.
News outlets have been filled with stories of fire affecting the lives of so many, reminding us of just how devastating it can be to suffer at the hands of such a powerful natural force.
The tragedy at Grenfell Tower in particular has been the subject of nationwide concern that fire safety practices and contingencies are not always up to the required standard.
For business owners, landlords and residents, fire safety is something that should be taken very seriously. In terms of the legal requirements, there are differences in the way it should be approached within commercial properties and domestic homes. However, the potential effects of fire are the same - utter destruction and major threat to life.
Fire safety for businesses
As a business owner or person responsible for a commercial premises, you have a responsibility, by law, to ensure a sufficient level of fire protection for your employees and members of the public. These responsibilities are outlined within the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Fire Safety order includes a selection of guidance documents relevant to all types of business premises. These include offices and shops, factories and warehouses, sleeping accommodation and more.
Within each guidance document, the basic requirements include the following responsibilities:
• Carry out a Fire Risk Assessment of the premises and review it regularly
• Ensure your employees are aware of the identified risks
• Put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures
• Regularly test your systems and provide a plan for an emergency
• Provide fire safety instructions and training
Failure to comply with the regulations outlined in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order is considered an offence by law and can lead to prosecution.
Book your Fire Risk Assessment with Allcooper
Further reading: Guidance from GOV.UK - Making your premises safe from fire
Fire safety for landlords
In addition to adhering to the requirements of the Housing Act 2004, landlords also have legal obligations under the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. This includes owners of rented properties, managing agents and those responsible for the management of private dwellings.
As a landlord, you are responsible for ensuring the safety of your tenants. The Fire Safety Order requires that landlords carry out Fire Risk Assessments in all areas of their properties. This is to identify potential fire hazards and who is at risk. It also dictates what should be done to remove or reduce that risk, and that the Fire Risk Assessment is reviewed on a regular basis.
Again, failure to comply is considered an offence by law.
Other relevant legislation for landlords relating to fire safety include the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
Further reading: GOV.UK - Private renting: Your landlord's safety responsibilities
Fire Safety at home
Fire and poisonous gas is a serious risk to your home and family. Although there is no legal requirement for homeowners to implement fire safety practices, any home without functioning fire protection is potentially at risk, and so it should be something that is considered a priority.
Electronic fire detection devices are available and designed to keep homes safe from the serious risks of fire. They are designed to detect the signs of a fire as quickly as possible and alert occupants to signs of smoke or increased amounts of heat. Fire detection devices such as smoke and heat sensors are now installed into new-build homes as standard, however it is possible that older homes may lack sufficient detection. These are typically wired to the mains power however they should be checked regularly and replaced when necessary. Wireless battery-powered devices are also available.
In addition to fire, homes are also at risk of poisonous gases such as Carbon Monoxide. For example, this could be caused by a faulty gas appliance. Again, electronic devices are available to detect signs of these gases and alert occupants.
The key to staying safe at home is to stay vigilant and regularly test your devices. Battery-powered devices in particular should be tested weekly to ensure there is no drop in the level of protection.
Further reading: Fire and gas detection for homes
Fire detection systems and services
Allcooper specialise in providing all the fire protection services you need to fulfil your responsibilities, stay compliant and minimise the risks. We install, maintain and monitor a range of fire detection systems to alert you to the earliest signs of fire. We specialise in advising on the right systems and equipment for your specific needs.
Whether hard-wired or wireless, a Fire Alarm system includes all the key components needed to effectively arm your business to detect signs of fire at all times. You will have a control panel (to manage the system) linked to a combination of commercial smoke detectors and heat detectors. Your system will also comprise of internal and external sounders (audible alarms) and emergency break-glass devices. For homes, we recommend linking fire detection devices to your burglar alarm system.
Read more about Fire Alarms
24-hour monitoring services are available and recommended for your fire alarm system. This ensures that you are notified as soon as any sign of fire is detected, even when you are not on site. Knowing about a fire early means instant action can be taken and losses can be significantly reduced. In an effort to reduce false alarms, most Fire and Rescue services require visual verification (of a fire) before they will attend. Without monitoring, you have no way of knowing about a fire until it is potentially too late. In fact, you’re entirely reliant on a member of your staff or the public calling the Brigade.
Read more about Fire Monitoring
Fire Risk Assessments
A Fire Risk Assessment is a thorough evaluation of a premises to identify, prepare and minimise the risks of fire. For your business, carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment is an absolute must and legal requirement to ensure the fire safety of your staff, property and assets. The assessment aims to provide you with sufficient information and a suitable plan for managing the building's overall fire risk. We recommend that Fire Risk Assessments are carried out at a minimum of every three years, however you should always review your Fire Risk Assessment following any significant change to your building. This could include changes to its layout, the people accessing the building on a regular basis or the introduction of new equipment or technology.
Read more about Fire Risk Assessments
Extinguishers are an essential protection measure should your business experience a fire. Each type of extinguisher contains a different substance such as water, powder or foam, and is available in 3, 6 and 9 litre sizes. Carrying out a full Fire Risk Assessment will help determine which types of extinguishers you need and how many.
Read more about Fire Extinguishers
If you need advice on fire safety
Please don't be afraid to ask for fire safety advice. Here at Allcooper, we have been providing fire safety systems and services for over 30 years. Our experienced surveyors are able to recommend the best protection products and procedures for you, based on your specific needs and budget. We're also able to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment for you - the most important fire safety responsibility you have as a business owner or landlord.
If you would like to discuss the fire safety of your home or business with us, please call our team on 01452 372626 or enquire online here.