From an employer’s point of view, the key piece of legislation governing fire safety in Ireland is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. Employers must assess their workplace to identify any fire-related risks and to ensure their business complies with health & safety law.
Another source of legislation setting out fire safety regulations in Ireland is the Fires Services Act (1981 and 2003). This legislation applies to all buildings to which the public are admitted. In short, the fire safety legislation in Ireland places a duty of care on all individuals who have control over a premises to which the public has access.
The duty of care includes a general obligation of people in control of such a premises to take all reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire. People in control of a premises must also ensure as far as is reasonably practicable the safety of persons on the premises in the event of an outbreak of fire.
Fire safety in the workplace (Ireland)
So what do employers need to do to safeguard the workplace against the risk of fire? Taking the following steps will minimise the risk of workplace fire incidents and penalties for non-compliance with health & safety law:
- Carry out a fire risk assessment
- Separate sources of ignition from sources of fuel
- Ensure good housekeeping practices at all times
- Ensure smoke and fire alarms are in good working order
- Ensure appropriate fire-fighting equipment is readily available to extinguish a fire before it gets out of control
- Ensure your employees receive appropriate training
- Review and update your risk assessment regularly
- Maintenance of fire protection equipment
Fire safety equipment (Ireland)
Fire safety equipment must be properly maintained. The continuing safety and protection of staff and occupants relies on fully functioning fire protection equipment such as fire detection/alarm systems, emergency lighting systems and fire extinguishing equipment.
Fire detection and alarm systems
A key step to complying with the fire safety act in Ireland is ensuring that fire safety equipment is operating correctly. The following periodic checks of fire safety systems should be carried out to ensure that fire detection systems are fully functioning.
- Daily – check that the alarm panel indicates normal operation free of faults.
- Weekly – test at least one operating point or end of line switch on each zone circuit to sound the alarm and operate any other warning devices.
- Quarterly - test procedures should be carried out by the manufacturer, supplier or another person competent to do so.
- Annually - test procedures should be carried out by the manufacturer, supplier or another person competent to do so.
Maintenance of escape routes
Occupants of a building cannot be evacuated quickly and safely if escape routes are obstructed or exits are locked. It is an essential element of fire safety management that all escape routes are kept free from obstruction and safe from smoke and fire. This can only be achieved if escape routes are not obstructed, if fire-resistant doors are kept closed (or automatic closers linked to a fire alarm are maintained) and if exit doors are functioning at all times. Escape routes should be inspected on a regular basis. Any obstructions on the escape route should be removed immediately and steps taken to ensure no further obstruction is allowed to occur.
Staff and management training
All managers and staff, including temporary and part-time workers, should receive training and instruction in the following:
- Fire prevention duties
- Emergency procedures, including fire and evacuation drills
- The layout of the building including escape routes
- The location of fire alarm call points, and first-aid fire-fighting equipment
- Where the business provides residential or sleeping accommodation, arrangements for the evacuation of residents and the location of places of safety
- Arrangements for calling the fire brigade and the ambulance service
- Arrangements for assisting the fire brigade
- Fire control techniques including the use of fire extinguishers, fire blankets and hose reels, closing doors and windows to inhibit fire spread, shutting off electricity and fuel supplies where appropriate
- The role of fire doors and the importance of not wedging or propping them open.
A simple and effective method of keeping on top of tests, services, inspections, training and reviews is Peninsula’s Fire Safety Log Book. The Fire Safety Log Book is designed to provide an annual record of the measures you have taken to ensure the fire safety arrangements you have put in place are properly maintained and remain effective.
Need professional Fire Safety assistance?
Get in touch for professional support on carrying out a risk assessment. We have a 24/7 advice line: 1890 252 923 .