All premises – whether commercial, private or open to the public – are required to comply with fire safety legislation. Often, the authorities will conduct a fire safety assessment in order to ensure that the building has the required regulatory precautions in place, such as fire extinguishers and escape routes. But, how do you go about making sure that the people on the premises have the information they need to avoid risking their safety at work? How can you make sure they’ll effectively evacuate in an emergency situation?
Fire safety regulations: building owners are responsible for providing accurate fire safety instructions
Fire safety legislation in England and Wales is gathered under ‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005’. It covers all premises used for non-domestic purposes, with a few small exceptions. New regulations surrounding new duties for building owners and managers will be coming into effect in 2023, with the introduction of the Fire Safety England Regulations 2022. Companies looking to hire a fire safety expert to help them achieve compliance should make sure they choose one who is accredited by BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment).
Providing accurate fire safety instructions – that are accessible to any person that might be entering a building – is an integral part of reducing risk to safety in the event of an emergency situation. This aspect of fire safety legislation applies to commercial or corporate business premises and privately owned buildings alike. Whether you’re a business owner or a homeowner, you are required to consider people’s safety. Situating clear fire safety instructions in strategic, clearly visible locations around your buildings is key to ensuring that you’re able to effectively reduce the risk that fires pose to the employees, clients and residents.
Fire safety instructions are essentially a condensed guide to the emergency procedures in place. These procedures ensure that the building’s safety standards comply with the latest relevant regulations. Often, these fire safety instructions will be located alongside the fire-fighting equipment itself, such as regulatory fire extinguishers.
This ensures that anyone will be able to easily scan the instructions before making use of the fire extinguishers, in order to best protect their personal safety while attempting to use the safety equipment available. Regulatory fire safety instructions will contain information on how to act in the event of a fire. The fire safety guide will detail the escape routes that are in place, providing clear information on how to access them quickly.
Likewise, fire safety instructions will detail the assembly points in place around the building. Once employees, clients, residents or members of the public have been evacuated, it’s likely that you’ll need to complete a regulatory roll call of the people who were signed into the building, in order to ensure that everyone has effectively exited via the escape routes.
These regulatory roll calls are especially vital in the case of schools, for example, where adults are responsible for the safety of minors in the event of a fire. Business and commercial premises are also required to provide regulatory training for their employees, to ensure that designated fire safety personnel can act effectively to prevent and manage emergencies.
Often, the person responsible for planning and overseeing this regulatory fire safety training will be the premises’ Fire Safety Manager or Fire Safety Officer. This role often encompasses conducting an internal assessment, in order to ensure that the premises comply with the latest fire safety regulations. The Fire Safety Manager will also head up training courses for employees of the business, ensuring that this training keeps pace with the latest fire safety regulations. In addition, the premises’ Fire Safety Team will manage the practical aspects of enforcing fire safety regulations within each building, such as ensuring that the buildings’ planned escape routes are easily accessible and compliant with regulatory guidelines.
Fire safety regulations: how should you display your building’s fire safety instructions?
Guides to fire safety need to be easily interpreted by any person who enters the building. Their format should take into account both standard fire safety legislation and the demographic that’s likely to make use of the premises.
For example, if it’s a commercial or residential premises that specifically caters to children or young people, it’s likely that the building manager will want to take that into consideration when planning the design and placement of fire safety guidance.
- Easily visible and readable
Part of this is ensuring that the fire safety instructions are displayed on signs that are large enough to cover all the regulatory information required, as well as being placed in locations that will appropriately guide people towards the building’s escape routes, for example.
- Permanently on display
These fire safety instructions must offer a permanent guide to any users of a building as to how they can reduce the risk to their personal safety. So, the relevant regulatory information – for example, detailing escape routes or the location of fire extinguishers and other safety equipment – must be permanently on display.
- Accurate and up to date
The premises’ designated Fire Safety Team will likely be responsible for ensuring that the guidance displayed around all buildings is kept up to date and accurate, according to the latest fire safety legislation.
Fire safety regulations: further points to consider
Fire safety instructions usually include clear pictorial displays, for example maps and arrows demonstrating escape routes, as well as the assembly points.
The same applies to guidance on using the fire extinguishers and other equipment – such as fire alarms – located around the building, as pictorial instructions are often the easiest way to convey this information effectively.
Reducing the risk to personal safety of a building’s users is integral to complying with the fire safety regulations in force. So, bear in mind this quick Netatmo guide to fire safety instructions to help you ensure that you’re reducing the risk of a fire-related emergency on your premises.
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