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Everything You Need to Know About Office Fire Safety 2 July 2021

As a facility manager, you are responsible to ensure the safety, comfort, and wellbeing of staff, visitors, and anyone else in the building. Office fire safety, including fire safety plans and systems, is one of many important aspects of facility management, ensuring the safety of anyone using the facilities and the building itself.

Responsibility for Office Fire Safety

Responsibility for the fire safety of a workplace lies with the employer, owner, landlord, occupier, and/or anyone else with control of the premises (including facility managers) – hereafter referred to as the “responsible person.”

As the responsible person in your workplace, there are certain tasks you must carry out:

  • Conduct a “fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly,
  • Tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified,
  • Put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures,
  • Plan for an emergency,
  • Provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training.”

Shared Buildings and Communal Areas

Many businesses share their office buildings with other businesses, meaning that there is likely to be more than one responsible person for the fire safety of the whole shared premises. As the responsible person representing your share of the building, you’ll need to make sure that you coordinate fire safety plans with the other occupants. Regarding common or shared areas, “the responsible person is the landlord, freeholder or managing agent.”

Why is Fire Safety So Important?

Employee & Visitor Safety

Having robust fire safety plans and working systems in place protects the well-being and safety of employees and visitors. Planning for a fire emergency and how to get everyone to evacuate the building safely are imperative to avoid injury and death. Preventative measures, such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets, help to avoid fires starting or spreading.

Protect the Building & Business

Fire safety and preventative measures also protect the structure and function of the building itself. Damaged premises are extremely costly to repair or rebuild; even when you have buildings insurance, there is significant disruption and financial loss caused by closing the business for repairs/rebuilding after an emergency.

Fireco recommends the SIMPLE method to help reduce your facility’s fire risk:

  • S – Store stock safely.
  • I – Identify the alarm points.
  • M – Make sure fire doors are kept closed.
  • P – Place flammable (able to catch fire) items away from objects which could cause a fire.
  • L – Let someone know if you spot something dangerous.
  • – Ensure everyone knows what to do when there’s a fire.

Legal Compliance

You have a legal obligation, as the responsible person, to carry out the necessary fire safety measures for your workplace. Upon an inspection from your local fire and rescue authority, you may receive informal or formal warnings to fix issues that aren’t up to the required safety standard. Failure to fix issues and comply with workplace fire safety regulations can result in a fine of up to £5,000 (for minor penalties) or unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison (for major penalties).

Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) for Fire Systems

Scheduled maintenance services, or Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM), are crucial in catching issues early and keeping essential systems working correctly. Similarly to domestic buildings, your fire detection and alarm systems should be inspected regularly to make sure they are in working order and up to code. This includes checking fire alarms, emergency lighting, fire exit signs, fire escape routes are clear, and automatic fire doors are opening and closing correctly.

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