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What To Do In The Event Of A Fire At Your Business Premises

As part of the fire risk assessment it is important for businesses to identify what to do in the event of a fire. Common sense and discretion should be used on the discovery of a fire. If the fire is very small, and one is confident that it can easily be extinguished, the nearest appropriate fire extinguisher should be used. If this action has no immediate effect on the fire the fire alarm should be operated to inform fellow colleagues and personnel within the workplace.

In premises not provided with an electrical alarm the warning should be by word of mouth, "FIRE", or by operating the manual break glass call points. In general the fire alarm should be sounded prior to the fire being tackled. All staff should be shown the "Break the Glass call point" in the vicinity of where they work.

If calling the fire service or reporting a fire locally the following information should be gathered where possible:

1. The exact location of the fire;
2. The location of any trapped persons;
3. The type of fire ie the type of fuel involved;
4. Report any hazardous substances that may be involved, such as the following - toxic or explosive chemicals, any radioactive substances, any gas cylinders

The Fire Service should be called directly by dialling 999 and all the relevant information should be passed on to the fire service control. Remember the Fire Service Control may not be familiar with the topography of the area. It is therefore essential that the correct postal address of the premises is given. It may be conducive to provide a conspicuous notice adjacent to the telephone which may be used for calling the Brigade. Such a notice should include the correct postal address. All staff should be told the system of reporting a fire that is relevant to them. Only after the alarm has been raised and the Fire Service informed should the fire be tackled. In practice the fire may be discovered by more than one person and the above action can be carried out simultaneously.

If your efforts to tackle the fire has no effect or the fire is too large for first-aid fire fighting then evacuate the building immediately by using the shortest possible route closing the door to the effected room behind you.

After evacuation report to the pre-determined assembly point and await further instructions. An individual should meet with the fire officer when he or she arrives and pass on any relevant informaton, this would include the possible location of the fire as well as whether everyone is out of the building. This information is vitally important and will ensure that the Fire Service have as much information as possible to enable them to put a plan of action in place. If you have a plan drawing of the premises then this would also prove very useful and would save valuable time.

On occasion the fire may not be visible from outside the building and some people may wish to re-enter the building to collect their belongings or to shelter from the adverse elements. It may be that the fire is in a Hotel at three 'o' clock in the morning on a cold Winter 's night, if this were the case then guests would want to return to their rooms as soon as possible, it is imperetive that people are only allowed back into the building once the fire service have completed their actions in identifying the location of the fire and making it safe for individuals to return. The fire officer will inform the business manager of when it is safe to do so.

Following the conclusion of the incident the fire officer will carryout an investigation into the most probable cause, it is likely that at this stage the very first thing they will ask to see is your completed fire risk assessment, to identify what fire hazards you had recorded within it and the various preventative measures you had considered to prevent a fire occuring at your workplace. Insurance companies are incresingly asking to see fire risk assessments when purchasing insurance and certainly following a fire in the workplace, not to have completed a fire risk assessment at your business may compromise yor insurance policy

One of the most common causes of fire within business premises is poor management. Fire Safety is often overlooked by businesses as people believe it, "will never happen to them" don't fall into the same trap, as statistics show, that along with the heartache of serious injuries to people, two thirds of businesses never recover from a serious fire. Make the appropriate provisions now by putting your management systems in place to protect your people and your livelihood.

About the author :
Freddy has been a regular author on topics concerning business fire safety consultancy. Specialising in the practical application of the fire safety risk assessment process with 17 years experience as an operational fire safety officer.

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