Are you a business owner with commercial premises? Do you own a shop, rent out offices or run a soft play centre for kids? No doubt you understand the importance of health and safety regulations, even if the H&S inspector is the person that you least like to see first thing on a Monday morning.
There are so many hazards in the workplace, from cables that people can trip over to floors that become slippery when wet, but one of the most significant risks is fire.
Why is fire such a big risk?
So many things can cause a fire, from a damaged wire or cable to someone dropping a cigarette. Arsonists aren't commonplace, but you also need to be prepared for the possibility that a troublemaker could start a fire on your property. Appliances and pieces of equipment can malfunction, and before you know it your livelihood is lying in ashes in front of your eyes.
Of course, you don't just need to worry about the financial risks and how you'll ever recover from the impact of a fire on your building and your belongings. You also have a duty to keep your customers and clients safe, which means that an inadequate fire safety system puts lives at risk.
What should you install?
- Fire Doors and Signs
You should have fire doors situated in suitable places throughout your property. It's your duty to provide information to your employees about what they should do in case of a fire, and you should also make sure that your customers can read this information. Fire doors should be clearly marked and easily accessible - they should not be locked, or blocked, or hard to get to.
Installing â€˜Fire Exit' signs is one of the easiest ways to help people to locate your fire doors. Ideally, these will light up so that they're easy to see even if the room is dark or if it's filled with smoke. You might be able to get away with having fire exit signs just above the doors, but if you think that they'll be harder to see when people are feeling panicked then you can also add â€˜Fire Exit' arrows in various other places that people can follow to find the door.
Plan and designate a safe spot, away from the building, as somewhere that your employees and customers can gather whilst they wait to be allowed back into the building.
- Fire Alarms
Fire doors and signs are vital, but an alarm system is even more important. An automated alarm system will warn people to evacuate the building if smoke is detected, whilst manual buttons installed in various locations allow people to trigger the alarm system if they spot a danger on their own. Fire alarms should be regularly maintained and frequently tested. They should have a battery backup in case the power is turned off, and it's possible to buy a fire alarm that automatically contacts your local emergency fire service on your behalf.
- Emergency Lighting
Consider the possibility that your power goes off due to a fire. A backup emergency lighting system is the best way to ensure that people can find their way around and get out of the building safely. You can also add â€˜trails' of small lights that people can follow to find the nearest exit. Sometimes, following a trail of lights is quicker and easier than looking for signs to point you in the right direction.
With a combination of fire alarms, emergency lights, fire doors and signs you're able to prepare your shop or commercial venue for the possibility of a fire. Hopefully it'll never happen, but preparation is the key to safety.