Businesses that have reopened their doors in Warwickshire are urged not to overlook fire safety and ensure it remains a top priority in the workplace.
The call from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service comes as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC) Business Safety Week which runs until 12th September. The campaign aims to make businesses aware of their fire safety responsibilities, so they comply with legislation to keep both premises and occupants safe from fire.
Many businesses had to close their doors or change their ways of working due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But as they have now reopened, business owners and Responsible Persons (RPs) must review Fire Risk Assessments to reflect any changes they have made in response to the pandemic in the workplace. It's important that steps are taken to ensure staff are suitably trained, fire equipment is checked and maintained and any covid secure measures do not compromise fire safety.
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service can provide free help, advice and guidance to minimise the risk of fire in the workplace. The advice is available throughout the year, but the campaign week of action is encouraging people not to delay reviewing fire safety. Warwickshire has experienced two major fires at businesses in Leamington Spa and Coventry recently.
Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Fire and Rescue and Community Safety at Warwickshire County Council said: “Given recent events in the county, the messages around this week are very timely. I know that some businesses in Warwickshire have been reopening their doors to employees as staff return to offices. It’s extremely important that businesses don’t neglect their fire safety protocols and, if in doubt, check. Please make sure that your fire risk assessment is up to date, you have plans for emergencies and you have appropriate fire safety instruction and training.
“The service is now resuming its protection activities and liaising with businesses. These were paused during the lockdown periods and, sadly, we have seen an increase in business fires in recent months as people returned to the workplace. Now that more businesses are returning and that fire personnel are going back into businesses advising, it’s essential that we arrest this recent trend and get back to working together to make premises safe.”
Advice is also available to businesses on reducing the risk of arson by taking simple steps to protect premises. There were more than 4,700 deliberate fires in businesses in the UK in 2019-20 and most attacks are unplanned and opportunist crimes.
Fire services can also provide help in reducing false alarms in the workplace which often have an impact on business productivity. With around 44 per cent of fire service call outs in the UK being as a result of false alarms they increase pressure on fire service resources and time, both of which could be spent on dealing with genuine emergencies and community prevention and protection activities.
Mark Andrews, NFCC's Business Engagement Lead said: "Fire services are committed to helping businesses get back to work so they can continue to make their valued contribution to the economy and local communities.
"It has been such a challenging time, but fire can have a devastating impact on a business with many never recovering. But fire services are able to provide help and guidance to reduce this fire risk so we encourage them to get in touch with their local fire service for advice."