As lockdown eases and more businesses start to open their doors, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) are reminding licensed businesses and licensee holders to review their Fire Safety Risk Assessments and ensure that they are following fire safety regulations.
As of today (Monday 17th May) many more businesses will be welcoming customers back onto their premises as the lockdown rules lift to enable groups of no more than six people, or two households to meet indoors. But business should still be operating in a COVID-secure manner and follow the government guidelines as we move closer the 21st June, when a further reduction of restrictions will see businesses operating as normal.
NFRS works closely with businesses across the county, providing advice and guidance to help them comply with their legal obligations. In the year leading up to the COVID lockdown in March 2020, The Protection Team carried out around 800 fire inspections at commercial premises. Whilst the pandemic has restricted access to visit these premises, the Protection Team has continued to support local business by providing phone consultations and visits where necessary, along with a package of information for business owners to help themselves.
To support the reopening of more businesses, NFRS have launched a comprehensive video showing how to calculate occupancy limits, a key fire safety consideration. The video will help business owners and managers undertake an assessment of their venue and work out the maximum capacity based on standing and seating floor space, as well as size and number of fire exits.
NFRS also encourages every business opening their doors for the first time in many months, or those extending access to indoor facilities, to review fire safety plans and procedures.
Scott Richards, Community Protection Manager at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are urging licensed businesses to review their Fire Safety Risk Assessments and prepare in advance to ensure that they adhere to their legal requirements when it comes to fire safety. Identify any new hazards, who they may affect and what actions you can take to minimise the risk. Consider the maximum venue capacity, check that your fire safety systems are working and that any equipment you are using has been maintained and serviced appropriately and ensure that any new staff have been trained in your emergency procedures.”
“We clearly recognise the difficult time that people and businesses have had during the pandemic but we are equally aware of the consequences of fire and poor evacuation management. We are happy to work with any business or responsible person to help protect lives, livelihoods and properties, so please make contact with us.”
NFRS we will be proactively contacting key business types across the county to arrange fire safety inspections and as restrictions lift further, unannounced visits may be carried out.
Businesses with more complex fire safety plans or who want further support can contact Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Protection Team on 01604 797000 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org, or consult a fire safety specialist.
“Please note that this video is a basic guide to calculating the occupancy limits in simple licensed premises, it is not for complex or multi storey premises. If your premises is complex or if your premises falls outside of the scope of the video, then you should consult the relevant government guidance as detailed in the video, use another fire safety standard / guidance document or seek the advice of a competent fire risk assessor.”