In the UK, companies are to act within strict guidelines on fire safety and assessing the risk of any potential fire hazards on a ongoing basis. Companies that do not comply with these guidelines may be subject to fines or prosecution. In England and Wales, every employer or building owner, is directly responsible for the fire risk assessment of that company or building. The person that is deemed responsible for fire safety can also be the landlord (in the case of a pub), restaurant manager, café owner, bed and breakfast or guest house owner or the owner of a let cottage or lodge. |
The rules and guidelines on fire safety are slightly different in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Scotland the Fire and Rescue Services work in a partnership with the community, companies, private sector industries and the public to improve all round fire safety.
In England and Wales, the responsible person has a duty to identify any potential fire hazard and risks. This may involve a tour of a building looking out for any specific threats that may lead to the risk of a fire. The responsible person often is delegated by the building or company owner and acts as a dedicated health and safety officer or fire risk assessment representative. They will be on the look out for things like electrical cables that may have worked loose from fittings, litter or paperwork that has built up and not been removed, hazardous materials, faulty lighting, potential lack of security that may encourage arson especially in waste areas and electrical points where there may be an obstruction.
A big issue that is normally identified in places of work are archive rooms where a large build up of paper documentation have accumulated as companies are legally obliged to keep certain records for several years. These are usually in the form of folders, accounting books, transaction reports, wage records and so on. If this is the case you should make sure that there are no sources of ignition and the documentation is contained or separated so flames could not easily spread to other areas of the work place.
The fire risk assessment representative must also identify the people that may be at risk, and then act to remove that hazard before recording their work and findings. A fire risk assessment in companies within the UK must involver regular inspections and training for all staff on what a fire risk hazard is. The training sessions often involve a three hour course where a lecturer, tutor or fire and safety expert will talk the group through the ways in which they can become more conscious of fire risks within the workplace.
Among the other things a fire and safety risk assessor must look at are the emergency exits and routes out of a building. If these exits are blocked or locked then action needs to be taken to remove this. An assessor must also look closely at all fire fighting equipment like extinguishers to make sure they are in good working order.
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