COVID advice

We know this is a very difficult time for everyone, including businesses, but it is vital that your business, and the people working for you, remain safe from fire.

We’ve put together the following advice so you can keep your business, and those within the premises, as safe as possible.

We’ve also developed a Return To Work – Fire Safety Checklist for businesses.

If you have a specific question about fire safety within your premises during Covid-19, that isn’t answered below, please email tfs.cs@syfire.gov.uk and a fire safety inspecting officer will get back to you.

Review your fire risk assessment

If there have been changes in the way your business is operating (including fewer people within the premises than normal) this should be recorded, and any necessary measures should be taken to reduce any risks identified.

Review your evacuation procedures

Are there enough staff members to assist with evacuation as necessary? (roll calls, fire warden sweeps, moving/assisting residents etc.) Are all of your evacuation routes still available? (including any routes shared with other businesses).

Review & provide staff training

We know some businesses have taken on temporary staff to cope with demand. You need to ensure temporary staff and existing staff are aware of general fire safety within the premises, for example not overloading plug sockets, reporting identified issues, keeping escape routes clear etc. You also need to ensure they are familiar with evacuation procedures and any role they are required to carry out during an evacuation.

Review your fire safety arrangements

You should consider the impact Covid-19 has on your fire safety arrangements. Such arrangements could include other people such as training providers, testing and maintenance companies and other external companies or persons. Fire safety arrangements could also include business continuity arrangements, for example the availability of alternative premises in an emergency.

Consider Lone Workers

With fewer people working within the premises you should consider if your fire detection and warning arrangements are still suitable to alert lone or fewer occupants.

Consider the testing & maintenance of fire safety systems

Including fire alarms, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, sprinklers etc. These systems need to be kept in good working order. If you are considering rescheduling any routine maintenance you should first discuss this with your Service Engineer and discuss the fire safety risks. If your premises are occupied you should ensure in routine tests such as weekly fire alarm tests, monthly emergency lighting tests etc. continue and that you have a sufficient number of people who are trained to do this to cover for sickness and/or absence.

System faults

These must still be investigated and repaired without delay if the premises are occupied.

Carefully manage extra stock and keep escape routes clear

Storage of extra stock should be considered by your fire risk assessment. You should make sure stock is not in close proximity to ignition sources, or too close to smoke detectors or sprinkler heads as this could affect their operation. You should also make sure stock is not obstructing any escape route(s) and that escape routes are kept clear at all times.

Do not wedge open fire doors

We know people are worried that the virus may be transmitted via surfaces that are regularly touched such as door handles. We cannot stress enough how important it is to NOT wedge open fire doors. We ask you to focus on cleaning door handles/push plates regularly. Fire doors are a very important part of protecting people within a premises and need to remain closed.

Protect your premises from arson

Extra care should be taken if your premises are vacant during Covid-19, please ensure the premises are secure and any combustibles left externally are removed from site or stored securely. Do not store combustible items close to the premises.

Staff working from home?

Encourage your staff to consider fire safety within their homes. Lots on information can be found on our website. (There’s also a home fire safety quiz where they can enter a draw to win Amazon vouchers).

Further advice to businesses, from the National Fire Chiefs Council, can be found here.

Advice from the NFCC for schools, can be found here.

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This content was last updated on May 18th, 2020