The way you manage fire measures is a crucial element to running a safe business for yourself, and your customers. But if you don’t follow the UK government regulations, it could impact your shop’s finances as well.

You could face fines or a prison sentence if you don’t follow fire safety regulations and put people at risk. If you learn each rule, you can build your process around what’s important.

This guide discusses fire regulations for small shops, which include:

  • People at risk
  • Hazard management
  • Risk assessment
  • Fire safety equipment
  • Evacuation preparation

Fire regulations for small shops:

People at risk

As a business owner, you are responsible for the safety of those who interact with your shop.

Your customers’ safety

If you are the only person who works at the business, your priorities are likely the risks toward customers. When they enter your store, you must understand that they are your legal responsibility.

That means that wherever customers are in your shop needs to be clear of hazards that may cause them harm. Think about the types of people you welcome, for example exposed sockets may be more of a risk to children.

Your reputation as a business depends on keeping customers safe. If you follow regulations, it should be straightforward. 

Accidents can still happen, though. If a member of the public has an injury on your property, it’s essential to have the right insurance.

Public liability insurance will help pay the court fees and compensation if customers take legal action for injuries.

Your own safety

Business owners may underestimate the importance of protecting themselves. But if you are injured, your business could face a significant impact.

As a sole worker, it will likely be impossible to continue operation without you. So when it comes to fire safety, consider the risks to yourself to ensure you can carry on with your duties.

Hazard management

With the two groups at risk identified, it’s crucial to understand how to minimise fire hazards — one of the fire regulations for small shops is about how you manage them.

The UK government has a Health and Safety Executive responsible for enforcing fire safety laws. They also provide advice on how to identify hazards in your business.

Fire hazards come in three types:

  • Ignition — e.g. flame heaters or electrical equipment.
  • Fuel — e.g. paper or plastic.
  • Oxygen — e.g. open-air spaces.

Those three types separately don’t pose as much risk as they do together. So to manage them, look for areas in your store where they could be close to each other.

For example, heavy wires could be near lots of paper in an open room. These hazards mean a spark could ignite and cause a fire.

Risk assessment

One of the critical fire regulations for small shops is the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). It requires businesses to assess the risk of fires and explosions from their activities.

Risk assessments are records that should be reviewed and updated regularly to comply with the law. Your local council may send fire safety officers to your shop to check you have one available.

Without a relevant risk assessment for inspection, your business could receive notices resulting in fines or criminal prosecutions.

A risk assessment requires you to:

  • Find risks — what are the risks in your business?
  • Identify people — who would the risks affect?
  • Evaluate — how can you reduce or remove the risks?
  • Record — what you found and how you’ll monitor risks?
  • Review — have the risks changed?

Carry out the risk assessment process in every area of your shop. That’ll help manage any potential dangers and create a safe environment.

Fire safety equipment

The UK government requires you to have fire detection or warning systems in your business. So one of the vital fire regulations for small shops outlines fire safety equipment.

Detectors

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 means that all business premises must have appropriate fire detection systems

There are three main types of fire detectors that you can use in your business:

  • Ionisation — detects small particles of smoke from fast-spreading fires.
  • Optical — detects large particles of smoke from slow-burning fires.
  • Heat alarms — detect an increase in temperature, not smoke.

The type to use might depend on what your shop sells. For example, if you cook on a hob, a heat alarm may be better to avoid small flames setting one off.

Fire fighting

There is other helpful fire fighting equipment for your business that can play an essential role in safety preparation.

Some fire fighting equipment includes:

  • Extinguishers
  • Blankets
  • Sprinkler systems

If a minor fire starts, then these types of equipment can help you put it out and prevent its spread.

Evacuation preparation

Even with all of the proper measures, you must also prepare a plan for an emergency scenario. It could help you train to react swiftly, to protect people’s safety if a fire occurs.

That’s why another crucial fire regulation for small shops is an evacuation plan. It lays out the preparation to ensure a safe escape from fire for yourself and your customers.

To put together an evacuation plan, record:

  • Escape routes — exits that anyone can reach.
  • Clear markings — help show where exits are.
  • Emergency doors — exits are accessible and not obstructed.
  • Emergency lighting — lights that can direct people in a power outage.
  • Meeting point –– safe place to gather and check if anyone’s still inside.

Your evacuation plan may also be something that fire safety officers check for during inspections, so make sure it’s up to date and available. In addition to a plan, note the emergency contact number for the fire brigade — 999 in the UK.

Finance safety with Countingup

With a business that’s prepared and protected from fire, it’s also important to consider how you keep your money safe. That can mean that you regularly check how much is going in and out of your shop.

Countingup is a business account with built-in accounting software that helps you monitor your money through your phone. With features like cash flow insights, you can routinely manage your costs to avoid getting burned.

Get started for free.