Five fire-safety checks you can do in five minutes

Gavin Scarr Hall - Director of Health and Safety

August 01 2022

As an employer, you are responsible for fire safety in your workplace.

Most fires are preventable. Just by carrying out a few speedy checks, you’ll help keep staff safe and stay HSE-compliant.

To get started, here are five fire-safety checks you can do in five minutes…

1. Fire alarms

The first thing you need to do is check your fire alarm system.

It’s important to regularly test your fire alarms to make sure they’re working as they should. This includes testing all equipment attached to the alarm, like sounders and smoke vents.

It’s recommended that you have your fire alarms tested and serviced every 6 months by a professional. Around this time, you should also carry out a drill with an evacuation. The evacuation process could take as little as 2-3 minutes.

Also, find out if your fire alarm is monitored. When smoke sets off a monitored fire alarm, it alerts the fire brigade immediately.

Not all systems are monitored, like ‘single-station’ alarms. With these alarms, the system will go off if triggered, but it won’t contact anyone. Most systems will be like this.

To find out whether your alarm is monitored or not, you’ll need to check with your installer.

Make sure you also test your alarms weekly yourself.

2. Emergency lighting

Next, you need to check your emergency lighting is working and regularly maintained.

If the power goes out, you’ll need to have backup lights to help your staff evacuate the building safely. In most workplaces, your emergency lighting should illuminate the nearest fire exits and stay on for up to three hours.

It is a legal requirement to test all your emergency lighting systems on a monthly basis. You also need to have your emergency lights serviced annually by a professional.

It’s very simple and quick to check. Just flick the switch, check the emergency lights remain switched on and you’re done.

3. Sprinklers

If a fire breaks out, your building may have a sprinkler system. You can have sprinklers installed in ceilings or side walls. If they detect fire, they’ll go off automatically to help extinguish it.

This will often be one of the first lines of defence against a fire. So, it’s important to check your sprinklers regularly to make sure they work at an optimal level.

You should have them inspected at least twice a year.

You should also check:

  • there’s a good water supply (and there are no blockages)
  • the flow and pressure of the water
  • flow switches, test valves, control valves
  • any linked alarm systems
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4. Fire extinguishers

You’ll need to check there are enough fire extinguishers available in the locations you need them.

You should have a designated ‘responsible person’ carry out monthly checks of the extinguishers.

That person will need to check:

  • the position of the fire extinguishers (they should never be used as a door prop)
  • there are clear signs pointing to the fire extinguishers
  • the tag and safety clips are in place
  • the extinguishers aren’t dented or damaged
  • the pressure gauge is pointing to green (this means it hasn’t been used)

You will also need to brief staff on the location of your extinguishers, as well as the different types and uses of an extinguisher.

If they’re part of your evacuation plan, you may need to teach staff how to use them.

5. Escape routes

Finally, you’ll need to check your emergency escape routes.

Your escape routes should allow any person in the building to escape to a safe spot, like a protected stairway. From there, they should be able to exit the building.

As part of your check, you’ll need to make sure:

  • your workplace has notices with instructions on how to escape a fire
  • your staff know the protocol if they discover a fire or hear the alarm (this is why carrying out evacuation drills is important)
  • you can easily open exit doors from the inside (e.g. push bars should be working correctly)
  • escape routes are marked with exit signs, like the running man symbol
  • there’s a safe assembly point for staff to meet outside the building
  • there are no obstructions outside the building
  • you have emergency evacuation suitable to those with disabilities, like lifts and ramps

Make your workplace fire-safe, fast

Save yourself the time and hassle by leaving it to the health & safety experts. Find out more about how Peninsula can help you reduce your workplace risks and stay HSE-compliant here.

Or alternatively, give us a call on 0800 028 2420 to get your query answered by a health & safety expert today.

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