While we all deal with the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, Dorset &Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service will continue to support the owners and managers of buildings and businesses. You must be aware of your legal responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO), and ensure that these continue to be met.
- Responsible persons must carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and review on a regular basis. Guidance can be found here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1541/article/9/made
- Regularly and routinely inspect fire alarms, emergency lighting, and fire precautions in line with current standards.
- Escape routes are to be kept clear.
- Do not prop open fire doors to minimise contact with door handles. Ensure that public health advice on hand washing is followed.
- Protect your premises from any risks of arson.
- Provide your staff with information, fire safety instruction and training.
- You may wish to review your risk assessment if staffing levels change following the pandemic.
- Carry out a review and assessment of any essential maintenance during this time.
The Service is not carrying out routine fire safety visits during this period; however, please be aware that enforcement and prohibition work will continue.
Advice for Businesses during Covid-19 – Furniture and Fire Safety
Are you one of the many businesses that have been making physical changes to your premises to mitigate the risks of Covid-19?
Chances are you may have moved or even removed furniture to allow extra room between tables, travel routes, and pay points.
Ensure that any furniture that you have moved does not now encroach on an escape route, or obstruct a fire exit for customers or staff.
Any furniture that has been removed from front of house areas should be stored with care – out of sight should not mean out of mind! If storing such items back of house:
- Keep them far away from fire escape routes and exits – even if these routes would only be used by a small number of people.
- A build-up of combustible materials can quickly become a source of fuel in the event of fire. If you can, keep excess items off the premises entirely. If you can’t, keep them away from heat sources and in as small a quantity as you can.
- When making material changes to your premises such as these, revisit your Fire Risk Assessment in case you need to adjust your control measures to reflect the new situation – such as relocating fire fighting equipment to ensure it remains accessible, and checking that all travel distances for your escape routes are still within acceptable limits (usually 18 metres if you only have one means of escape, or 45 metres if you have more than one in a normal fire-risk area – for further guidance, see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-risk-assessment-offices-and-shops).
(Photos courtesy of Hall and Woodhouse)
Advice to businesses when returning to work
Now businesses are starting to operate again, there are some key fire safety matters for you to consider. This leaﬂet is designed to provide some helpful assistance.
The National Fire Chiefs Council has also produced detailed guidance to help businesses to protect against Covid 19 – click here to view.
Further guidance on carrying out a risk assessment is available here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-your-premises-safe-from-fire
If you have a general fire safety enquiry regarding commercial property, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and the Fire Safety Team will respond during office hours.