Don’t let your COVID-19 precautions increase your risk of fire.
The stark warning to businesses and organisations comes from West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) at the start of Business Safety Week 2020.
WMFS is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) call to ensure fire safety stays a top priority.
It’s feared that organisations’ legitimate focus on being ‘COVID secure’ could compromise fire safety arrangements - putting staff, visitors and premises at risk.
WMFS is encouraging business owners and ‘Responsible Persons’ (RPs) to review their Fire Risk Assessments, taking account of any new measures they’ve introduced to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Group Commander Steve Ball, of WMFS’s fire safety team, said: “While all of our efforts are rightly focused on stopping the spread of COVID-19, we also need to do all we can to stop the spread of fire and, should one break out, that people are safe and can escape.
“The pandemic has presented many new challenges to businesses. However, in Business Safety Week, we’re reminding them that fire safety is as crucial as ever.
“Having an up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment is the first step towards protecting your business from fire. And, for those who need extra support, we’re here to advise on how to keep your business in business - including how not to fall victim to arsonists.”
Businesses are being urged to ensure that:
- COVID-19 protective screens don’t obstruct smoke detection
- fire doors are kept shut to stop fire spread (not propped open to minimise contact or improve air flow) and not blocked with furniture or stock
- they have enough trained staff to support evacuation procedures
- social distancing arrangements don’t impede evacuation procedures or the ability of emergency services to respond
- escape routes are maintained, paying extra attention to any one-way systems that have been introduced to counter COVID-19.
For more fire safety advice, including how to review your Fire Risk Assessment, please see this page on our website and visit www.gov.uk
You can also email our fire safety team: firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call on 0121 380 7500.
Fire and rescue services nationwide will be supporting this week’s NFCC campaign – search for the social media hashtag #BusinessSafety2020 to find out more.