During these difficult times - as we all work together to combat the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is committed to helping your business and your employees remain safe from fire.
From May 17, 2021, as more venues and businesses - including the indoor hospitality - re-open in England, all businesses should ensure their fire safety measures are adequate and fire protection equipment is appropriately maintained.
Fire Risk Assessment
On your return to work it may be necessary to review your Fire Risk Assessment to ensure that it is current and reflects the way your business now operates. Consider changes such as:
- Working practices
- Stock levels
- Alterations made to the premises (i.e. one way systems)
- Staff numbers
It is essential that a fire risk assessment is undertaken and reviewed where there are changes in ways of working, processes or building layout. This may include the holding open of fire doors with unsuitable devices, this is not permitted. Consider the use of sanitiser stations on both sides of the fire door and keep the door closed.
It is important that when changes in measures to control the spread of Covid-19 are implemented following Government guidance, they are also considered in the context of your premises’ fire risk assessments (opens in a new tab), to help manage and mitigate the risk of fire as much as much as reasonably practicable.
Any significant changes identified should be recorded where necessary and actioned as required within appropriate timescales.
It is strongly recommended that you regularly review your fire risk assessment.
Consider the following:
Take all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of fire, for example, isolating all non-essential equipment, services and machinery.
Changes in risk
The level of risk associated with your premises may have increased due to the current situation, for example, increased waste, storage, additional stock levels. This should be addressed as part of your updated fire risk assessment.
Testing and maintenance of fire safety equipment
Your fire safety equipment, including fire detection and warning systems, sprinklers, emergency lighting and extinguishers need to remain in good working order and should be regularly tested and maintained as normal.
Are there still appropriate numbers of staff to ensure evacuation of the premises can be safely completed?
With the reduction in staff numbers you should consider if the fire detection and warning system in place is adequate to warn relevant people of fire.
Maintaining fire safety measures
Whilst you have been closed have you maintained your premises:
- Fire detection system
- Fire extinguishers
- Emergency lighting
Timely maintenance is vital for the safety of your business and those that use the premises.
Any changes in risk identified during your fire risk assessment review should be communicated to all employees, and where measures are put in place necessary training should be provided.
Due to the potential increased stock and the period of closure, the amount of waste you generate may increase. Care should be taken when dealing with this waste, as accumulated rubbish outside of the premises provides a potential target for arson which could damage your business.
Ensure your premises are secure and any waste or combustible items are stored safely, securely and where possible away from the premises.
Means of escape
Ensure that your escape routes remain available and doors open correctly as they may have seized up whilst not in use. If you share an escape route remember that those other businesses may not be open. This should be supported with adequate escape signage and lighting to identify the escape routes to be used in event of fire.
Where staff numbers have changed, businesses must ensure that they continue to provide appropriate staff training. If you haven’t undertaken staff training for some time, ensure that all staff know what to do in a fire situation.
If those people with specific tasks such as fire wardens, have not returned to work, ensure that other suitably trained staff are available. You must consider the needs of lone workers and their safety. Is there still the capacity to help people with a disability and any persons who may require assistance in an emergency?
We have identified that some premises are wedging open self-closing fire doors as a Covid-19 control measure (intended to reduce the need to touch locks and door handles). Self-closing fire doors are fitted within your premises to prevent the spread of smoke and fire and to protect and maintain escape routes. It is essential that these doors are kept shut at all times.
GMFRS strongly recommends that you speak with your insurance company to ensure that your policy still covers your premises at this time.
Information for Particular Businesses
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is committed to ensuring the safety of the Greater Manchester community through our prevention, protection and response activity. As an enforcing authority for the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the Fire Safety Order) we are committed to working with businesses to ensure that premises are safe - we do this through providing advice and information as well as carrying out inspections.
GMFRS wants to support businesses across Greater Manchester and the information sheets below are intended to assist you in understanding your fire safety responsibilities.
The information sheets provide guidance on meeting some of your key responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order and steps you can take to ensure your business is safe. It is not a comprehensive guide to your legal duties but information about how to access further guidance can be found below.
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Business Fire Safety (Covid-19)