All workplaces need a fire safety policy, yours is no different. Policies are there to minimize the chances of, and protect people, from fire. There are around 423 workplace fires every week, so it’s no joke.
A fire safety policy can stop your workplace from joining this statistic. It ensures everyone in your organisation is on the same page. The policy holds you and your employees accountable; everyone must pull together to prevent fire.
What is a Fire Safety Policy?
You and your employees should know potential dangers, how to avoid the risks of fire and what to do if a fire breaks out. So, that’s exactly what should be in your policy.
You or your assigned responsible person are liable for compliance under the legislation for fire safety. Ugh, legislation, does that mean you could be penalised under the law for not having a fire safety policy? You bet it does.
Why Follow the Rules?
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order Act 2005, you must take reasonable steps to reduce fire risks in your organisation. If you don’t comply with it, you could have to pay fines up to an unlimited amount or even face time behind bars.
New Look, the fashion retailer, broke an unfortunate record of the biggest fine given for breaching the Act in 2007. They were forced to pay a whopping £400,000 due to insufficient staff training and storage blocking escape routes. It contributed to the blaze that destroyed their Oxford Street branch.
If you don’t want this to happen to you, it’s worth doing your bit. And make sure your staff does theirs.
What a Fire Safety Policy Looks Like
So, where to start? Let’s go through what you should include in your policy.
We’re about to discuss the bare minimum for your fire safety policy. You can adapt and grow it along with changes in your organisation. But make sure it covers the following areas:
Who’s it For?
No matter your type of workplace – your policy should be designed to protect anyone and everyone. They could work for you in some capacity or be a member of the public passing by your site. Either way, people shouldn’t be put at risk due to fire.
What the Policy Covers
Your policy should cover three main things:
- What fire risks are there
- How to avoid these risks
- How to handle fire if one happens
You can take fire awareness training if you need help understanding these areas. We’ll take a look at this in a moment.
Consequences of Non-compliance
You can discipline them under your disciplinary policy if someone doesn’t comply. If a contractor you’re working with doesn’t comply with your fire policy, it could be grounds to terminate your contract with them.
It’s ultimately up to you how you deal with it. Just remember the severe consequences a fire could have on your organization. Remember the fine New Look got? Not to mention the risk to life! If an employee isn’t complying, you need to discipline them appropriately.
The Responsible Person
This role may fall under your duties. The Responsible Person is anyone with a degree of control over the premises. In terms of fire, their duties are to:
- Carry out a fire risk assessment and review it regularly
- Keep employees informed about the fire risks
- Action and maintain appropriate fire safety measures
- Implement a fire safety plan for emergencies
- Provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training
Obviously, the fire hazards you face depend on the environment you work in. A construction site likely has different hazards to your everyday office, for example. Either way, here are some examples of risks to keep an eye out for.
- Portable electrical appliances
- Loose or hanging cables or damaged electrical fittings
- Blocked fire escapes
- Poor housekeeping
Fire hazards are more likely if staff are not up to date with their fire safety training, so be sure to keep on top of that too.
Responsibilities of Fire Wardens
What is a fire warden? Sounds like someone who supervises fire? Not quite. The fire warden is in charge of enforcing your fire safety measures. Fire wardens:
- Ensure exits are available and useable in case of emergency
- Look after fire fighting equipment and ensure it’s where it should be
- Keep all staff training up to date
- Test and check the fire alarm
- Complete the fire risk assessment
- Undertake a fire drill every quarter
- Have other fire-related duties
Check out this infographic to learn more about fire wardens and their duties
Reporting Fire Hazards
Your staff must be able to report hazards if they spot them. With this in mind, your policy must contain your fire warden’s name and contact details. Once the fire warden is made aware of a fire hazard, they can put in measures to protect against it.
Employee Obligations and Responsibilities
Do you want a fire at work? That’s probably a no. Your employees don’t want one either, even if they’ve got the Monday blues. They’ll want to protect themselves and their organisation from it.
- Be alert to fire hazards
- Report those hazards
- Ideally, not be the cause of fire themselves
They can do their bit by keeping workplaces tidy and switching off electrical appliances when not in use. And they should only use equipment their line manager has permitted them to use.
Fire Safety Policy Checklist
You can use this article as a guide for your own policy. If you need more guidance, use this fire safety policy template to make sure you don’t leave anything out of your policy.
Fire Awareness Training
This article contains a lot of information about fire hazards, but you can never be too careful when protecting your organisation. With this in mind, completing some fire awareness training is worth your time. It gives you and your staff an understanding of the potential fire hazards we’ve touched upon here. It’s helpful for your employees within their homes too.