Do I Need A Fire Alarm?
Nobody ever expects to be caught in a fire but sadly it is not an uncommon experience. Government statistics show that between 2018 to March 2019, the fire and rescue services attended 576,040 incidents including 182,825 fires. There were 7106 fire related casualties and 253 deaths which took place in both a domestic and business setting. Aside from the risk to human life the cost of a fire can run into millions.
So yes, you certainly need to take precautions against fire because the odds of this happening to you or your business premises are higher than you probably imagine.
Protecting your business with adequate fire detection is not only sound common sense, it is a legal requirement. Failure to comply with safety standards could see you facing a fine or imprisonment.
What type of Fire Detection do I need for my business?
The type of alarm system you need, will depend upon your needs and your Fire Risk Assessor will be able to advise you. However all business premises need to have a designated Responsible Person who can ensure that all the security measures are in place and that everyone in the premises knows exactly what to do in the case of a fire.
Even if your business premises are small and you only employ a couple of people who could be alerted, just by someone shouting fire, you do need to know what to do in a case of an emergency. Fire can spread very quickly; exits can become cut off so it is important to have a plan in place even if you do not need to invest in fire prevention measures.
What type of Fire Alarm is best for my business?
There are several fire alarm options to choose from and they all suit different purposes.
- Automatic Smoke Alarms and Heat Detectors.
There’s no smoke without fire, and a smoke alarm detects smoke or fire in its early stages and automatically sounds an audible alarm. They work by detecting smoke particles in the air, sensing heat or in a combination of ways.
If you are responsible for a block of flats or hotel where people may be sleeping, a smoke alarm will alert them to the danger before they are overcome by smoke inhalation in their sleep. This type of alarm does not require anyone to act or sound an alarm and can be linked to an automatic 999 dialling system.
An automatic smoke alarm and heat detector is a legal requirement for any residential property such as a hotel or nursing home.
- Conventional Fire Alarm
A conventional fire alarm can be suitable for low risk environments. These should be positioned in key areas and they divide your premises into zones. These types of alarms include the glassalarms that somebody smashes and they need to conform to British manufacturing standards and be positioned in crucial areas. Your Fire Risk Assessor can advise.
- Addressable Fire Alarms.
Theseare often used for high risk environments such as hospitals, schools or care homes. Because they are electronically wired together, the location of the fire is immediately visible. These types of fire alarms can be integrated with other fire prevention systems such as sprinklers and the automatic shutting of fire doors.
- Wireless Fire Alarm.
This type of fire alarm works exactly the same as the Addressable Fire Alarm and is suitable for premises where cabling cannot be installed. It works on a wireless network.
- Site Alarms.
Most suitable for use in larger areas such as building sites, a site alarm can include, a hand turned siren, whistles or air horn.
General Fire Precautions
As well as having a suitable method in place for raising the alarm in case of a fire, there are general fire precautions that need to be in place in any premises of work, apartment block, or anywhere where people gather.
There needs to be a suitable warning system in place to alert people to a fire. Whether this is a shouted command or a complex fire alarm system, it has to be effective and proven to work.
Fire extinguishers are also mandatory. The ability to fight a small fire at source will help prevent the fire from spreading. The general rule is to have a fire extinguisher in place for every 200m of floor space. It is also important to have fire extinguishers in sensitive areas such as kitchens. These need to be within their shelf life and tested because if they don’t work when they are required, you could be in trouble. Making sure you have the correct class of fire extinguisher is key.
It is important to carry out a fire drill especially if your business involves many people. The escape route should be designated and there should be a muster point away from the building so the responsible person can check that nobody has been left behind in a burning building.
If there is only one exit from the premises, this needs to be maintained and made as fire resistant as possible. You may need to fit an automatic fire detection system so that if the worst happens everyone can get out of the building safely. Doors on the exit route must be easily opened by people who are likely to be panicking and they should be marked fire exit if the area is used by the public.
Signage, Emergency Lighting and Escape Route Planning
You may need emergency signage and fire safety signs. You may need emergency lighting to sign the way if there is a power failure.
There are also some basic safety requirements that should be implemented. For example, high risk areas such as kitchens should not open directly onto the escape route. Flammable materials such as bundles of packaging should be stored in a safe location.
Although these measures may not concern you if you run a small business premises such as an office, the basic aim is always the same and that is to minimise risk to life and property in the case of a fire.
Whatever your scale of business, everyone should understand exactly what to do if the unthinkable happen.
What are the legal obligations for fire detection and prevention?
The 2005 Fire Safety Order is based on two key principles;
- 1/ Owners of companies and buildings must appoint a ‘responsible person’ to ensure compliance with the law and heighten awareness of fire protection.
- 2/ There must be ‘adequate’ means of detecting fire and raising the alarm.
If you are not trained professionally in fire prevention, it can be hard to translate these principles into hard facts and equipment.
Your fire risk assessment will highlight your potential areas of concern but the services of a professional fire risk assessor will provide solutions.
How much does a fire detection and prevention system cost?
The cost of a fire prevention system will depend upon your premises and the type of business you run. Costs could be as little as the price of some smoke alarms or fire extinguishers. You may only need some advice about fire safety measures and an effective escape plan. Alternatively the cost could run into thousands.
If you have any doubts about the level of fire cover you need, a professional fire risk assessor will help you. A professional will show you exactly what you need for fire safety so you are not tempted to cut corners, nor invest in expensive equipment you may not need.
Don’t ignore fire safety!
There is never a good time to spend money, especially if you are running a business and every penny counts. However you can’t afford to ignore fire safety and the longer you leave this issue, the higher the risk becomes.
For the business owner it is not all bad news. Taking action and implementing adequate fire safety measures, gives you one less worry to think about and if there is a fire you can be confident that you have done everything possible to minimise danger and damage to property.
You can check out the Government’s general advice for fire safety in the workplace for more information. In addition, Your Fire Risk Assessment will help you identify potential problems and a trained Fire Risk Assessor will help you put the findings into practical solutions.
If you would like a free site assessment and advice on how to protect your premises please contact Midland Fire Security Services today for a fast response.