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04 September 2020

Businesses urged not to overlook fire safety

Businesses in Cumbria which have had to make changes due to COVID-19 are being urged to make sure fire safety remains a top priority.

The call comes from Cumbria County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service ahead of Business Safety Week (7-13 September), as many businesses have had to implement new ways of working due to the current pandemic.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is reminding businesses about the everyday fire risks in the workplace - and there is both a legal and moral responsibility to ensure premises are safe from fire.

Many businesses had to respond quickly to the pandemic once they were able to reopen and while revisiting risk assessments, fire safety may not have been at the forefront of planning.

As part of National Fire Chiefs Council’s Business Safety Week - which runs from 7-13 September - Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging business owners and Responsible Persons (RPs) to ensure they review Fire Risk Assessments. They should also seek guidance and advice to help them keep their premises and occupants safe from fire.

Businesses must consider the potential risks that the COVID secure measures - required to open some premises - may in some cases compromise fire safety measures:

  • New screens must not obstruct smoke detection
  • Business must have enough trained staff to support evacuation procedures
  • Ensure measures to support social distancing do not impact evacuation procedures or the ability of emergency service to help you
  • Protect your business from arson
  • Help your fire service by reducing false alarms - which currently account for 39% of all emergency calls in Cumbria

Mark Andrews, NFCC's Business Engagement Lead said: "It's been a difficult and challenging time for so many people, and Fire and Rescue Services want to make sure that as businesses address changes needed in response to Covid-19, they remain fire safe. Fire can have a devastating impact on business with many never recovering after an incident. We are here to support businesses if they need advice and guidance so we ask them to review Fire Risk Assessments and help us to keep your business working safely."

Businesses are also being reminded to ensure fire doors are kept closed to protect premises, customers and staff, as they play a crucial role in fire protection.

Stuart Hook, Protection Manager at Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Fire doors save lives and protect property. They’re often the first line of defence in a fire and, if fitted, maintained and managed correctly, can be the difference between life and death. Businesses may well have made changes to the layout of their premises to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. It might be tempting to leave fire doors propped open to discourage touching of door handles, but we would strongly advise to keep fire doors closed and follow government advice on handwashing and cleansing hard surfaces.”

Businesses in Cumbria which have had to make changes due to COVID-19 are being urged to make sure fire safety remains a top priority.