Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is offering businesses fire safety advice as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC's) Business Safety Week 2019.
The campaign which runs from September 9 to 15 aims to provide those who are with responsibility for businesses and public buildings with information and advice to reduce the number of fire incidents and false alarms in the workplace, both of which impact business safety and productivity.
The service will be using the week to start the countdown to the change in how the service responds to automatic fire alarms. The changes will come into effect from October 1, 2019 with the major change being that an engine will not be sent to an automatic fire alarm at non-sleeping premises during normal working hours unless backed up by a call confirming that there is a fire.
During the period 2016-18, on average HFRS responded to just over 1,600 alarm activations per year. Of these, only 14% actually required an operational intervention. The rest were caused by a faulty system or a malicious or accidental activation eg. as a result of cooking fumes.
NFCC’s Protection and Business Safety Vice Chair Guy Keen, said: “About one third of fires in the workplace are due to electrical faults and misuse of electrical equipment. The majority of these fires are likely to be preventable by taking some simple measures, businesses can learn about how to make their premises and their staff safer from fire.
“We know that many small businesses never recover from the damage caused by fire, so it is really important to factor in fire safety particularly as part of preparations in the run up to Christmas.”
The week encourages all businesses to ensure they have taken the steps required by law to protect their business and employees from fire. Advice will also be given on preventing arson attacks, reducing false alarms, and if needed fire safety advice for premises with sleeping accommodation adjacent or above them.
The lead up to Christmas can be a busy time for businesses, so NFCC are calling on people to take the opportunity now to review risk assessments and escape plans in preparation for Christmas as they may take on extra stock and new or seasonal staff. Statistics show that in 2017-18 there were 19,033 fires in UK businesses with about 30% (5,293) being deliberately set.
In the UK electrical fires account for around 33% of accidental fires in the workplace. These fires can be due to electrical faults or misuse of electrical equipment. A rise in these fires is seen during the Christmas period.
By law, employers should make sure equipment is installed, maintained and used correctly, whether it is owned or leased by the business.
Chair of NFCC's Protection and Business Safety Committee, Mark Hardingham said: "Fire can have a devastating effect on small and medium size businesses. The NFCC is committed to supporting business and linking them to their local fire and rescue service who can help and advise them on reducing their fire risk.
"We encourage business owners to get in touch with their local fire service and find out about the help available so business can flourish and support the UK economy and local community in a safe and sustainable way."