There are certain things that come with the territory on the first day of a new job. The tour of the office, being introduced to people who might forget your name, being shown where to make the tea and coffee, that sort of thing. Then, at some point, you’ll be told what to do in the event of a fire. You’ll be shown the meeting point, or be asked to sit through a dated video which will show you the necessary procedures. Either way, how many of us actually take much notice? It is easy to think ‘I’ll just follow everyone else’ or ‘It’s always just a test anyway’. However, this attitude can be dangerous. Fire is a very serious threat, both to facilities and premises and to people’s lives.
In the year 2017/2018, there were 551 primary fires in offices/call centres, 1,706 in retail premises, 2,039 in industrial premises and 1,638 in food and drink premises, to name just a few. As a result of these fires alone, there were nine fatalities and 312 casualties. Fires do happen, and they can be deadly.
So, what are the main causes of workplace fires?
A high percentage are unsurprisingly caused by electrical faults and the misuse of certain pieces of equipment such as blowtorches. Smoking is another extremely avoidable cause of fires in the workplace. ‘Popping out for a fag’ can be a very dangerous practice. Employees smoking around flammable materials or failing to put out cigarettes properly is a very common cause of workplace fires. This can be avoided by the simple installation of a designated smoking area on the premises.
Alarmingly, arson is another main cause of workplace fires. While it is difficult to prevent this, there are certain measures that can be taken to minimise the impact. For example, ensure all flammable materials are locked away and cannot be accessed easily, while security measures such as CCTV cameras can act as deterrents. Finally, ensure all employees are fully trained and aware of what to do in the instance of a fire, i.e. know how and where to exit the building and where to gather outside of the premises. The installation of fire alarms throughout the premises is also an absolute must.
Getting down to business.
A vital measure that businesses can take to reduce the impact of a fire is to install fire doors. All commercial buildings are subject to the Regulatory Reform Order 2005.
The RRO covers all aspects of fire safety for commercial properties, of which fire doors are an important factor.
Fire doors perform two vital functions in a fire: they form a barrier to stop fire and smoke spreading; when opened they provide a means of escape.
Fire doors are a legal requirement in almost all commercial buildings, and are specifically designed and installed to prevent fire and smoke spreading, or taking longer to spread, to other areas of the building. Chris Miller, Manager SDG
The doors allow more time for its occupants to escape and the fire service to arrive while the fire is contained, or at least delayed. It is vital that these doors are kept shut at all times in order to compartmentalise the fire, although a self-closing mechanism is mandatory on most fire doors. It is also important that the doors are kept up to date and meet the current legislation standards – doors fitted in previous years may no longer be fit for purpose.
Fire Exit doors – the in’s and out.
Fire exit doors, on the other hand, are external doors and are not built to prevent the spread of fire. Its purpose is to allow for the quick and easy escape of a building – they are usually locked but should be simple to open via a push or panic bar. These should never be obstructed and must be clearly marked and easily accessible.
All of our fire doors and fire exit doors have been appropriately BS 476 Part 22 tested or BS EN 1634 tested (the European equivalent). This means that the doors’ assembly has been tested to ensure all its compartments, including its frame, glazing and seals, prevent the fire spreading for as long as intended.
Are you in-charge?
It is vital that your workplace meets the standards required to prevent fires occurring. As an employer, landlord, owner or anyone else with control of the premises, the responsibility lies with you to provide fire risk assessments, raise any potential risks, put in place fire safety measures and provide staff with information or training on fire safety.
If there’s more than one responsible person, you have to work together to meet your responsibilities.
The Fire Safety Order also applies if you have paying guests, for example if you run a bed and breakfast, guesthouse or let a self-catering property. For more information on practical advice for ensuring safety in the workplace visit here or contact your local fire and rescue authority can visit your premises to help you with this.
Types of Door
Depending on your dwelling the doors needed will be either an FD30, FD60, FD90 or FD120. each situation is assessed on the likelihood of fire and the main criteria will always be centered around preventing loss of life. Each door mentioned above offers protection from the spread of fire for 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes respectively.
As standard all of our Fire Exit doors are available with panic escape hardware for a quick and simple exit.
Failure to comply
Failure to comply with fire safety regulations can have a number of serious repercussions. You may receive an alterations, enforcement or prohibition notice which will notify you of something that needs to be altered or may restrict access or use of your premises. Fines or prison sentences can even be given to those who don’t follow fire safety regulations – minor penalties can lead to a maximum £5,000 fine, while major penalties can have unlimited fines and up to two years in prison. Having a fire-safe workplace protects you, your business and most importantly, the lives of those in your workplace.
How can we help?
SDG UK can construct fire doors out of solid timber, particleboard and chipboard, creating a sturdy, secure frame. Not only do we supply Fire doors, we also specialise in Fire Exit doors and we have 25 years of experience in doing so. We can help you understand what your legal requirements are and offer advice for your particular circumstances.