Emergency response to fire incidents and fire prevention strategies are a key consideration in any emergency response plan and should be a year-round priority but, as Christmas draws ever closer, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of planning and preparation for time away from the office.
This Christmas season, businesses have been urged to ensure their premises are safe from fire by undertaking their fire risk assessments and making any necessary changes required.
While it might not be the time of year when the thought naturally springs to mind, the run-up to Christmas can bring with it increased risks in the workplace. There may be extra stock piling up ready for last orders, decorations hung around the office and more, all of which may present additional safety and fire risks that need accounting for in your fire risk assessment, health and safety plans and emergency procedures.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding businesses to check the safety of their premises over the coming weeks.
Station Manager, Mike Bagnall, commented: “The festive season brings with it additional fire risks - shops have large amounts of extra stock, licensed premises are always a lot busier and there are often seasonal employees who perhaps don’t know the processes as well as other staff.”
In the coming days, fire safety inspectors across Wiltshire, Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth will be calling in at retail premises both in and out of town centres to assess fire safety risks. Similar inspections have recently taken place in Swindon and will continue throughout December.
Mr Bagnall went on to say: “Fire can be devastating and many small businesses don’t recover from having a fire, so we really want people to take a bit of time to check their businesses are as safe as possible.”
Fire and rescue inspectors are warning businesses to pay particular attention to the following when assessing risk:
Storage of stock so as not to block doors or thoroughfares
Disposing of additional packaging like cardboard safely
Maintaining escape routes and fire exits
Keeping festive decorations away from alarm sensors and sources of heat
Ensuring that temporary staff are fully briefed on what to do in the event of a fire
The warning comes as the Home Office reveals that the number of fires attended by fire and rescue services across England in the last year rose by 14 per cent.
Of all reported incidents, fires comprised 31 per cent, although many more (39 per cent) were false alarms. While the number of fires reported is on a downward trend generally over the past ten years, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has expressed concern at the recently releases statistics.
Chairman Roy Wilsher said the increase in fires and incidents reported recently is disappointing.
Home Office figures also showed that the number of firefighters in service has fallen by more than a fifth since the year of 2010 - 11. Mr Wilsher said that communities need complete confidence in their emergency services and urged the government to take the statistics into account.
He added that the NFCC will continue to work closely with the Home Office on fire safety and the Fire Reform programme.