It is no longer the Fire and Rescue Service’s duty to make sure that business premises are safe. Accountability now lies squarely and firmly with ‘the responsible person’ in all premises other than a single private dwelling. Along with the topics below, view our ‘What you need to do‘ page for further information.
Despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) it is important for businesses to continue carrying out their duties relating to fire safety in all of their premises whether they are open or closed.
All businesses should be reviewing their fire risk assessment and emergency procedures/plans in light of the impact COVID-19 may be having on their staffing levels, operating times/processes and evacuation arrangements. Please visit the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) website for further information and advice.
Have you had to close your business?
If your premises is closed for an extended period of time, there are some key steps you can take in order to reduce the risk of fire:
- Keep all entrances and exits clear, rubbish and commercial bins should be emptied and secured away from any buildings
- Turn off all electrical devices where possible and remove plugs from sockets
- Where possible, do not store excessive amounts of stock in a hazardous manner
- Ensure your premises are secure and continue with your usual measures to prevent the risk from arson
- If the public are dropping off charitable donations at your premises, these should be monitored regularly and cleared to reduce the risk from arson
If no staff are currently using the building, the premises should be checked regularly to ensure that security measures are in place and have not been compromised. Any issues should be reported to Crimestoppers by contacting 0800 555 111.
Where a fire warning and detection system at your premises is linked to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) they should be advised the premises are currently empty. Confirm with your ARC that they have up to date details of managers and key contacts in case the fire alarm activates, so they can attend and manage the alarm system appropriately.
If your building is connected to a domestic dwelling and you have a shared alarm system, you must ensure that this is still tested regularly.
If your business is still operating or recently opened
All existing, new or temporary staff should receive robust fire safety awareness training. Staff should be made aware of potential hazards and risks, particularly if staffing levels have been reduced or where staff may be working alone or in an isolated environment.
Other key points to remember:
- Ensure that fire alarm systems and emergency exits are still accessible and that the alarm can be raised in the event of an emergency
- Continue with testing and maintenance of fire safety measures in place
- Keep ignition sources and combustible materials separate, where possible
- Do not hold fire doors open unless provided with a suitable approved hold-open device that operates on activation of the fire alarm system
If you need specific advice from a Fire Protection Officer (FPO) during this time please contact us using our online form.
During the current situation, staffing levels in care homes must be maintained where possible, to ensure emergency plans can be effectively managed and staff should constantly monitor the situation in your premises.
If staffing levels are currently affected by COVID-19, review your fire risk assessment and emergency plan. If enough staff are not available to support these, the care home should consult with their fire risk assessor or Primary Authority Partner if these are in place.
If a fire does occur in your premises you must ensure the fire service is called at the earliest opportunity and confirmation provided to the operator that evacuation is taking place.
Following government actions, if you planning to make changes to accommodate an increase in hospital bed spaces within your premises, install temporary partitions or make any other changes to the internal layout of your premises, please contact an FPO via our online form for advice.
To find out who is responsible for fire safety at work and information on risk assessments, equipment and training, visit the GOV.UK website.
Our FPOs will audit the premises, including the fire risk assessment and any relevant documentation relating to any premises. At the end of the audit the ‘responsible person’ will be informed of their compliance level. The FPO will discuss any matters of concern with the ‘responsible person’.
If you require any further information, advice or a visit from one of our FPOs, please fill in the form below and the team will be in touch to discuss any queries:
The Northamptonshire County Council website has more useful information for anyone starting their own business, including more details on meeting your obligations.
The following document provides information, advice and guidance for developers designing new residential and commercial schemes in Northamptonshire.
It also provides key information on access requirements for the Fire Service and firefighting water supply requirements:
Pre-application guidance for developers (PDF 871KB)