It seems that we are weighed down by the red tape that binds us everywhere we turn in business. Some people say that in some areas health and safety has gone mad, and I have to agree. There are some responsibilities that we can’t take seriously enough, and fire safety is one of them.
Accounts litter recorded history of disasters, and fires are prevalent in many of them. You learned about the great fire of London in school, when a careless baker in Pudding Lane started a blaze that was to wreak havoc across the city. Though it sent Samuel Pepys running to bury his cheese (strange fellow) and gave him a lot of subject matter for his diary, we can’t place all of the blame on the poor chap. He might have started the fire, but the wooden buildings were too close together which enabled it to spread quickly. The resulting firestorm claimed many lives and lives on in the annals of history. Had they understood the importance of fire safety and enjoyed the systems we take for granted today, those people could have survived.
We are going to investigate the importance of fire safety in business today, and some of the systems and equipment that could save lives in an emergency. It is a fascinating subject as you are about to discover.
You have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your employees and anybody else on your premises. If you fail in that duty, you risk huge fines or imprisonment. Whether you run a hotel, a retail establishment or a factory, the rules apply to you. You just have safety equipment, service it regularly and practice emergency procedures so that everyone can escape a fire.
You must take steps to protect your business. Insurance affords protection, and peace of mind should the worst happen. To maintain the validity of your policy, you must meet the legal requirements for fire safety and protection. If somebody comes to harm or you’re building suffers unnecessary damage, your insurance might become void. That could have massive financial implications on you.
A fire could harm a member of the public or your staff. You will be responsible for damages and compensation to them. It may destroy thousands, or even millions of pounds of stock that you must replace, and the premises could burn down.
You may become liable for damage to adjoining buildings too. Now you can appreciate the benefits of adhering to the requirements of the insurance provider.
Safety And Warning Equipment
There are many levels of fire protection, and they are evolving all the time. Let’s investigate some of them starting with the least complex first.
Exit signs are necessary throughout the building so that people can find the fastest way out. You must use approved signs to adhere with the law. They a luminous so that someone can read them in the dark, and the size of the lettering meets fire regulations.
Fire blankets should be positioned in kitchens and anywhere else that you might need to smother a fire rather than use an extinguisher. They are of non-flammable material and are a simple but effective solution to many fires.
You must install fire extinguishers. The number and location are dependent on the size of the building. There are two types that you must supply.
Foam extinguishers are used to smother most fires. They stop oxygen getting to the flames. They are not recommended for electrical fires because there is moisture in the foam, and it could exacerbate the situation.
CO2 (carbon dioxide) extinguishers are suitable for most fires. The powerful blast of gas replaces the oxygen and smothers the fire. Because it is a dry product, it is ideal for electrical fires.
Alarms save thousands of lives every year. They were once simple systems that relied on somebody spotting a fire and using a switch to activate the alarm bells. Today’s high-tech alarms are far superior to anything that has come before. My contact at Brunel Security said that the latest addressable systems help people to track a fire to its exact location rather than an area.
The old installations used circuits that connected to a zone in the control panel. For the sake of argument, the fifth floor of the hotel might be on area seven of the alarm. A smoke detector activation in any one of those rooms would alert everybody in the building so that they could escape. The firefighters will have to go to that floor and look for the fire if it is not immediately apparent.
An addressable system does not use circuits to create the areas. The engineer installs an identification chip in each detector and programs the control panel with the location of each one. They can assign the detectors to any zone and rest assured that the control panel is monitoring the performance of them all even when there is not a fire. The control panel will indicate a fault on a detector if it should occur,. The firefighters will know exactly where the fire is when they attend so they can deal with it quickly and with less danger to themselves.
The procedures that people should follow in case of fire should be put in writing and posted around the building. Everybody must be aware of the closest escape route from wherever they are, and the location of the assembly points when they get outside. Many places benefit from a system where people have to sign in and out of the premises. That is the best way to let the emergency services know if there is likely to be someone still in the building.
You may think that I am overstating the importance of fire safety and precautions. There are many who lost their lives in burning buildings. They might have survived had they known the proper procedures and the building were adequately protected. It is one area where cost is irrelevant; you must protect the lives of those for whom you are responsible.