(SME) Small Business Fire Safety Guide
The rules surrounding requirements for fire safety in non-domestic settings such as small businesses are covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which specifies who is responsible and what they are responsible for. Knowing exactly what you need to do is vital, because the penalties for non-compliance can be pretty severe – which is fair enough, because you’re potentially dealing with people’s lives here.
We’ll take a look at the key requirements of the fire safety regulations in detail shortly, but first we need to answer a key question: who’s responsible for ensuring it all happens?
Who’s responsible for small business fire safety?
Fire safety in a small business is the responsibility of whoever owns or has control of the premises – that could be the owner of the building, the landlord of the individual unit, the business owner occupying the premises, or the managing agent or facilities manager of the premises. Those running premises with paying guests, such as bed and breakfasts, guesthouses and self-catering properties, are also responsible for fire safety in those properties.
In the context of fire safety, all of the above are known as the ‘responsible person’. Should there be more than one responsible person, they will need to work together with shared accountability for meeting the requirements of all fire safety legislation.
So what are their responsibilities?
Fire risk assessment
Regular fire risk assessments need to be carried out on the premises. These can be carried out by the responsible persons in small businesses with low risk, but should otherwise be done by a qualified and licensed third party. A fire risk assessment has the following five key aims:
- To identify potential fire hazards – consider how and where a fire could start and spread
- To identify those at risk in the event of a fire – are some people more at risk than others? This could include those working in areas at higher risk of fire, or those with mobility issues who are less able to escape in the event of a fire
- To identify the extent of any risk and whether existing precautions and measures are sufficient
- To create a written record of all findings and recommendations – this is only legally required for businesses with five or more staff, but is strongly recommended as good practice for all
- To ensure regular assessments are carried out to review existing measures and procedures and identify whether any changes in the business mean different or further measures are required going forward
The government website covering these requirements contains a detailed fire safety risk assessment checklist that spells out exactly what each of these five steps entail.
Advise staff of identified risks
When an assessment has been carried out staff, or their representatives, should be told of the findings, particularly with regard to the risks that have been identified.
Install and maintain fire safety measures
Fire safety measures include:
- Smoke detectors
- Fire alarm systems
- Fire extinguishers appropriate for the identified fire risk
- Sprinkler systems
- Emergency lighting
- Signs indicating fire exits
For full business fire safety compliance, you don’t just need to make sure that these measures are in place – you also need to ensure that they are working properly through regular maintenance and that designated people within the premises have been properly trained in their use.
You also need to display at least two fire safety signs:
- A Fire Action Notice that details what people should do in the event of a fire
- An Extinguisher ID Sign showing where any extinguishers are and how to use them
Make plans for an emergency
Should the worst happen, the situation will be dealt with much more effectively if people know what to do – making plans for such an event can save property and save your business, but most importantly it can save lives.
Plans for a fire emergency will include evacuation routes, providing assistance for those with limited mobility and designated meeting points.
Provide staff with information, fire safety instruction and training
Basic fire safety training should be made available for all staff so that they know what to do in the event of a fire. This should include regular fire drills.
Meanwhile, depending on the size of your business, you will also need to appoint a certain number of fire wardens and make sure they are fully trained in various fire safety skills, including the use of fire extinguishers.
Don’t take chances when it comes to fire safety in your business. Scutum London can provide comprehensive fire risk assessments that will ensure your business is not only meeting all the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005, but is doing everything possible to keep your premises, staff and visitors safe. We can also provide fire warden training where required.
For more information, contact us today.
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