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Fortunately these are not too frequent occurrence and so never will the same emphasis be placed on your day to day practices as for theft.

The following points will however alert you to some of the most common causes for outbreak of fire.

  • Electrical wiring. Badly maintained wiring can be extremely dangerous. Old electrical circuits and loose wiring can be a danger to your and your staff. Make sure that wiring is suitably placed in conduit or is not frayed. Short circuits and contact with water or damp can easily cause a fire.

    Beware of old machinery, particularly when manufacturers have updated switchgear and plugs to comply with up to date safety legislation.

    If you are in any doubt as to the safety and condition of your wiring you should contact a qualified electrician and obtain a n electrical report and request them to issue you with a National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (N.I.C.E.I.C) Certificate.

  • If possible avoid leaving processes unattended and do not leave machines running overnight unless they are fitted with an automatic cut out.

  • In particular beware of processes involving plating plants. Ensure that all your plating plant is fitted with timers and automatic cut out switches. Even if ignition does not occur because you are lucky enough to return before the vats have melted and set fire to the work bench the smoke damage can be substantial resulting in extensive redecoration costs and soiled contents.

  • Do not permit smoking, except perhaps in allocated staff areas.

  • Sparks, or worse still, cigarette ends that fall into dust extraction plant can cause sudden and extensive fire damage.

  • Ensure that acids and other similar inflammables are suitably locked away in a metal box or cabinet.

  • Ensure that gas bottles are secured so that they cannot be knocked over which can not only cause injury to you and your staff but also may damage the bottles increasing the risk of explosion and fire damage.

  • Secure mobile heaters and place them in a cage in order that items can not fall, or be placed against them resulting in a fire. Make sure they are switched off at least 15 minutes before you vacate the premises.

  • Turn off naked flames when you are not using them. Ensure that the flame can burn in a completely free area without risk to catching fire to surrounding property or conducting down piping to another area where a fire may occur.

  • In addition to fundamental fire fighting equipment such as fire extinguishers, buckets and blankets ensure that you also have dedicated equipment in the following areas:

    CO2 fire extinguisher in order fight electrical fires such as computer equipment or other forms of switchgear or fuse boxes/cupboards.

    Additional, perhaps handheld equipment adjacent to work benches where perhaps there are naked flames.

    As a general rule, excluding any special requirements, there ought to be at least two 2 gallon water extinguishers to each floor of a premises plus additional units in the communicating areas or hallways.

  • Do not allow rubbish to accumulate. In particular rubbish that accumulates outside your premises is a major fire hazard. There are a variety of individuals who may start a fire and which may spread to your premises.

    Good housekeeping is fundamental to running an efficient business. Ensure that any packing material, such as shredded paper is suitably stored in metal containers.

  • At the close of every business day make a thorough check of the whole premises. This is also good security practice to ensure that no one has hidden themselves within the premises. Draw up a checklist listing all the points.

Fire Risk Assesments:

As of October 2006, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005 became law, which means that shop and office owners/occupiers/managers and liable to carry out their own fire risk assesment. The ruling has obvious security implications as electric locks that are used to control entry and exit may prevent people from escaping in the event of a fire. It must be possible for people to escape.

For more information on fire safety regulations and guidelines on Fire Risk assesments, visit www.firesafetyguides.communities.gov.uk


 

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