Is your fire equipment all checked and ready to go during the festive season? Christmas is a busy time for many, especially if you’re a retailer. Items such as fire alarms and fire extinguishers could turn out to be a life-saver in the event of fire. So, we’ve pulled together all our knowledge and advice in this blog to help keep you safe this Christmas.
We’ve also created our top 12 picks for Christmas fire safety. You can download our checklist and pin it up on your office noticeboard.
Why is fire safety an extra consideration at Christmas?
Most businesses experience increased demand at this time of year which usually means a change of environment. This might be more people on your premises – staff or customers, or both. It might be increased stock levels – boxes in corridors awaiting processing, or warehouse space filled to the brim.
Whatever Christmas means for you, it may have an impact on how well you’re protected against fire. We always recommend to our customers – retail in particular – that they review their Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) in the months leading up to the holiday season.
Once your FRA review is complete, you will have a clearer picture of the potential risks that your business faces. It’s likely that the FRA will make recommendations about fire alarms and fire extinguishers. These are two pieces of equipment that most businesses need. During times of change or upheaval, it’s vital that they’re fully functional.
Staying on top of fire alarm safety, at Christmas and all year round
If you’re already working with a third-party accredited fire safety supplier, they should have installed your system correctly. They should also be maintaining it regularly. But what if you’ve never considered fire safety before?
Some newer (and smaller) businesses discover that Christmas is upon them and a change of environment makes it imperative that they review their fire alarm protection. So, what do they need to consider?
Choosing the right fire alarm system
This isn’t a decision that anyone can make as modern systems are complex and designed for specific environments. Your Fire Risk Assessment usually specifies which fire alarm category you need (and there are several). But as they say, the devil is in the detail, and this is where specialist help is invaluable. Using your FRA, a designer will work with you to create the right fire alarm system for your buildings.
A reputable fire safety provider will always make sure your fire alarm conforms to current British safety standards (and the Fire Safety Order 2005). At Fire Safety Services, we also work with a wide range of manufacturers. This means we can recommend the best products on the market to you while keeping your budget in mind.
What do I need to know about fire alarm installation?
When it comes to installation, don’t be tempted to save money by cutting corners. A poorly-installed fire alarm is not one to be relied upon. In the event of fire, it may malfunction and cause thousands of pounds worth of damage.
What’s more, it can cause frequent false alarms. This will also cost your business time and money and earn you a poor reputation with local firefighting services.
The best option is to choose an independently accredited supplier. Accrediting body BAFE is a symbol of excellent quality.
If you run a large business, you will also want to consider how well your supplier works around you. We always guarantee to cause minimal disruption during all our installations. And while we wouldn’t recommend an installation at Christmas, we’re happy to accommodate any customer who needs one!
Is regular maintenance really worth it?
So, you’ve got a shiny new fire alarm system to admire. Box ticked on the ever-growing to-do list. What next? Well, the right answer is not to ignore it until next Christmas. Some equipment can survive with just an annual service. But fire alarms save lives. They deserve better.
What’s more, regular maintenance and servicing is a legal requirement and government advice states that you should adhere to British Standard BS 5839. This standard recommends weekly testing (by building inhabitants) and a professional service every six months.
If fire were to break out and you hadn’t tested regularly, officials will ask for an explanation. What’s more, if people have been injured by a fire and you are the ‘responsible person’, you could face large fines or a prison sentence.
So, yes, in our opinion, regular maintenance is most definitely worth it!
Staying on top of fire extinguisher safety, at Christmas and all year round
Did you know that the US Patent Office has records of several inventors who tried to insert fire extinguishers into Christmas trees? The world’s first self-extinguishing Christmas tree would certainly have made headlines. We’re just not sure it would have turned out to be particularly effective!
In the UK, fire safety is the legal responsibility of the business owner (or responsible person, if they’re not the owner). As with fire alarms, you should consult your Fire Risk Assessment when it comes to choosing fire extinguishers for your business. There are five main types of fire extinguisher:
- Wet Chemical
Regulations (which apply across the EU) also divide fires into several classes: Class A, B, C, D and F. Electrical fires are in another separate group (formerly called Class E).
So, you can see, that choosing the right equipment for your needs is not always going to be simple or straightforward. A third-party accredited supplier can work with you to clarify what your FRA recommends and which types of extinguisher are most suitable.
And should you decide you need an extinguisher near your Christmas tree – but not necessarily inside it – we can help with that too!
What about fire extinguisher maintenance?
Like any piece of life-saving equipment, you must maintain fire extinguishers if you want to guarantee they work in times of need. We recommend a monthly visual check: are any parts broken or has it been tampered with? In addition, you must organize an annual service in line with British Standard BS 5306.
Are there any other considerations when it comes to fire extinguishers?
A common question our customers ask us is ‘how many fire extinguishers do we need?’
The answer depends on a few variables including the size of your business and its environment. For example, a laboratory storing chemicals is a high-risk environment and will have unique needs. The general rule for a low-risk workplace is that an extinguisher should not be more than 30 metres away from anyone.
You must also train employees (usually as new joiners) so they know where they can find the nearest fire extinguisher and how to use it. It’s sensible to invest in workplace training which any reputable fire safety supplier can provide.
So, why not give you and your business a Christmas fire-safety treat this year? By checking your fire alarms and fire extinguishers have an up-to-date service record, you can relax and enjoy your Christmas in style.
If you need any further advice, we’re always on hand. Please contact us to find out how we can help you.
David has worked in the fire protection industry for over 30 years. He formed Fire Safety Services in 1999, initially working from home as a sole trader, and is proud to have grown a national company providing quality and ethical fire safety. Today, the business turns over £7 million plus and has nearly 100 employees.
More Christmas Fire Safety Blogs
If you would like to read more blog posts about Christmas fire safety please click below: