Firms complacent over fire safety, according to research

Businesses could be unaware of their responsibilities when it comes to the provision of fire fighting equipment and staff safety training, says Norwich Union Risk Services.

Research from NURS reveals that only 47% of small businesses may have knowledge of the of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order legislation.

Martin Hartley, property class specialist for NURS, said: “Protecting the lives of staff as well as business property is paramount. Our research, along with anecdotal evidence, suggests that businesses may not be fully aware of their responsibilities.

“All staff should be familiar with the location of extinguishers, be able to select the correct type and operate one safely as a ‘first aid’ measure – in case they need to.

“Adequate and appropriate training in the use of extinguishers is essential. Government Fire Safety Risk Assessment guidance indicates that ‘the safe use of an appropriate fire extinguisher to control a fire in its early stages, can also significantly reduce the risk to other people in the premises by allowing people to assist others who are at risk’.

“Some businesses might not be getting it right. They may be unclear of the varying types of fire safety equipment available on the premises, let alone have knowledge of how to use one.

“The ability to identify the correct extinguisher is particularly important since current standards (BS EN 3) require that extinguishers are virtually all red - though they should have a small colour coded area to identify the type.”

He said that the provision of fire fighting equipment is not enough and that staff “should be adequately trained in order to determine which extinguisher can be used when and, most importantly, how and when it is safe to do so - for their own safety”.

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