Fire safety basics: how can you increase fire safety in your building?
Fire safety is a key part of corporate health and safety requirements.
A corporate building must ensure that it has appropriate fire safety systems in place for the sites where it executes its services. This could include fire prevention and protection equipment – including passive and active products and systems – as well as efficient fire evacuation protocols and effective employee training regarding fire safety procedures.
Corporate and commercial buildings will need to comply with various fire safety requirements to ensure the safety of everyone on site. These regulations will cover general security standards, as well as more specific requirements for fire protection and prevention systems.
A corporate or commercial building is likely to include both active and passive fire protection and prevention products. A passive fire safety product would be an automatic smoke detector, for example.
This smoke detector would pick up on an increase of smoke within the building, triggering a fire alarm system to alert people on the site to a previously unnoticed emergency situation.
Active fire safety products include, for example, fire extinguishers, fire blankets or fire hoses that connect up to the water supply in the building. These require active participation from individuals – whether they’re trained fire safety officers or members of the emergency services – in order to effectively fight any fires that may occur on site.
Of course, the individual characteristics of a company will determine the levels and types of fire safety products and systems that its sites require. Companies that work with hazardous materials or industrial processes that pose a high fire risk, for example, will need to comply with stricter fire prevention regulations.
Often, fire prevention and protection systems will be designed during the construction process of a corporate or commercial building. That way, fire safety equipment and strategic planning for easy evacuation routes will be worked into the layout of the building itself.
A building that is open to the public will also need to provide adequate fire prevention and protection equipment, as well as clear fire safety instructions detailing what to do in the event of an emergency.
These buildings could include:
- Shopping centres
- Leisure centres
Given the risk a fire would pose to many members of the public, these buildings must ensure that they have adequate:
Fire prevention and protection measures
Including clear instructions for use of fire safety equipment and evacuation routes
Regulated fire equipment
For example, functional fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire blankets or sprinklers
Maintenance of fire prevention and protection equipment
Regular checks will be required to ensure that all fire safety products are fully functional
Fire safety training for staff
Corporate or commercial premises should have designated evacuation controllers, regular fire safety drills and trained first aiders. They should also provide clear instructions for members of the public that cover the use of fire prevention and protection equipment.
Complying with fire safety standards is mandatory for these corporate and commercial buildings. If they fail to comply with fire prevention regulations, they risk closure by the authorities.
Fire protection: key products to install to ensure safety
We’ve taken a brief look at fire protection and prevention equipment, including both active and passive fire safety products and systems.
Let’s recap these, going into some more detail:
- Fire extinguishers or fire blankets
Employees and members of the public will be able to use these active fire safety products in the event of a fire. Effective employee training will ensure that any designated fire safety officers can quickly and easily use these products in the event of an emergency.
- Fire detection devices such as smoke detectors
These smoke detectors will link up to the building’s fire alarm systems. Working as passive fire detection, smoke detectors will trigger an evacuation even if no one has noticed that a fire has started in the building.
- Fire alarm systems
The building’s fire alarm systems could be passively triggered by smoke alarms, or actively manually triggered via control panels or activation points.
- Fire doors
Effectively prevent the spread of a fire through the building, facilitating increased fire safety.
- Smoke extraction systems
Help to reduce loss of visibility and breathing difficulties in the event of a fire, facilitating quicker evacuation and potentially reducing smoke damage to the building itself.
- Fire safety information placards
Including – for example – evacuation plans, assembly points, fire safety regulations and instructions for use of fire safety equipment at strategic locations throughout the building.
Fire hoses connected to the building’s water supply
These can be used by the emergency services to tackle any fires within the buildings.
Emergency lighting to facilitate quick evacuation
If visibility is impaired by smoke within the building, emergency lighting can facilitate quick and effective evacuation. Emergency lighting is also particularly important during the hours of darkness, or in darkened public facilities such as theatres and cinemas.
Corporate fire protection: go further to increase employee safety
Systems to protect your employees’ safety
Effectively train your company personnel to ensure that designated staff members know how to use the fire protection products in place.
Large establishments should ensure regular updates to fire safety training, as well as providing fire prevention and protection refresher courses for employees.
Organise regular fire evacuation drills and recap the use of fire extinguishers and how to manually trigger fire alarm systems in the building.
Systems to protect your business
Organise a professional insurance policy that will include cover for fire damage.
Many insurance policies will require the building to have adequate fire safety systems in place, so make sure that your fire safety solutions do comply.