You have a huge amount of responsibility when it comes to your business, and how you protect the public in an emergency on your property.
For fire safety, there are a few responsibilities you have to follow as the owner.
This guide discusses fire regulations for business, which includes:
- Importance of fire regulations for a business.
- Evaluate risks with a fire risk assessment.
- Plan fire regulations for business.
- Equip and train for fire regulations.
Importance of fire regulations for a business
Without safety measures in place you put people’s welfare at risk, but also your business. Local councils can send fire safety officers to businesses to check if your risk assessment and safety plan is well-prepared.
Suppose your measures aren’t up to the standards that your council expects of you. In that case, they can issue a formal safety notice to make the relevant changes.
When the fire regulations for business are severely unsafe, the action can go further. You can face minor penalties of up to £5,000, or unlimited fines and up to two years in prison for major ones.
Evaluate risks with a fire risk assessment
Identify risks as your first responsibility and they depend on the type of business you operate. You can put together a ‘risk assessment‘ guide to evaluate them.
The UK Government has assessment guides for different industries. For example, cinemas won’t have the same risks as animal stables.
Spotting hazards in your workplace is a critical way to help you assess any risks you should plan for.
The most common hazards include:
- Electricity — (e.g. exposed wiring)
- Smoking — (e.g. poorly discarded cigarette butts)
- Cooking — (e.g. oven fires)
- Heating — (e.g. portable heaters)
- Flammable materials — (e.g. gas canisters)
- Arson — (e.g. criminal damage)
Evaluate and reduce
Once you identify your hazards, risk assessment can let you evaluate what you’ll do about them. You can remove issues and make your business safer.
A few ways to reduce hazards include:
- Safer alternatives — (e.g. replace flame heating with electric)
- Separate — (e.g. keep a minimum amount of gas canisters together)
- Ventilate — (e.g. add vents to cool areas with heavy wiring)
Plan fire regulations for your business
Once you’ve put together a risk assessment, you can reduce the risk of a fire. But it’s still your responsibility to prepare for one.
A crucial part of fire regulations for businesses is your plans. If a fire does break out, what’ll you do?
In the case of a fire, everyone inside the building needs to get out safely. As an owner, you must plan how that will happen.
You have to think through the scenario to stop customers, workers, or anyone else on the property facing harm.
When a fire breaks out, wherever anyone is, they need to find an exit. It’s helpful to have multiple exits at your property so there’s always one near.
In the event of a fire, smoke may fill rooms, so it’s also crucial to clarify which doors are fire exits. You can place signs on them to make it clearer.
Another way to help people identify escape routes can be with emergency lighting. The signs on the doors can be lit, and you can place ones on the floor or walls to help direct people out the building.
Fires can affect your power. That’s why it’s helpful to use emergency lighting, (which doesn’t rely on the mains) so they can still provide direction.
In your plan, you can also choose a meeting point to check if all of your customers made it outside. It’s best to have a meet point away from the building (to avoid injuries) but near enough for everyone to reach.
Your responsibility is to ensure customers can leave safely, so think about the best way to guide them outside in your plan.
For example, creating a meet point for them means people can inform you if they know of anyone still inside.
As you’re responsible for a fire in your business, you should also keep the emergency services numbers available.
In the UK, the emergency number is 999, which can notify the fire brigade to assist you.
If the fire engulfs the building, you should not go back inside. The fire department is equipped and trained to enter burning buildings to rescue people. Stay safe and wait for them.
Equip and train for fire regulations
After you have a risk assessment and plan, the next stage of your fire regulations is equipment and training.
It’s a legal requirement for your business to have fire detectors, but the types you should have can depend on the building you’re in.
These can be:
- Heat detectors.
- Flame detectors.
- Smoke detectors.
- Carbon monoxide detectors.
- Multi-sensor detectors.
For example, in a kitchen, smoke detectors may not be suitable as they will go off during cooking. Still, carbon monoxide ones will not trigger so easily –– only by gas-producing fires.
Fire fighting equipment
You can handle small fires by yourself with the right equipment:
- Fire extinguisher — a variety of types available for different types of fires can put out small fires from a short distance.
- Fire blankets — can smother small fires, often used in kitchens.
- Sprinkler systems — can be fitted to ceilings to put out fires.
If you have a plan and valuable equipment available, there needs to be training to make the best use of them.
If it’s only you in the business, or if you employ people, everyone should be aware of how to deal with fires.
One way to prepare is to carry out fire drills. These are when you set off the alarms and follow your plan like you would in an emergency.
Now, evaluate your response. If any areas didn’t work well in the drill, adjust your plans and training. It’s vital to keep doing exercises to keep up to date with any changes.
Avoid burning money
Fire safety isn’t the only threat to your business, you can also run the risk of mismanaged finance.
Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that’ll allow you to access all of your finances through your phone.
It’s handy app even has an expense categorisation feature, which sorts your costs so you can make the best use of your money.
For more information on the regulations in different industries, see: