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Fire Safety Needs an Active Approach

10 July 2017

The recent Grenfell Tower tragedy has drawn much attention towards fire safety and the issue of responsibility. As fire safety is a matter of security, there are numerous people who can be held accountable in the event of a fire. Whether you are an employer, owner, landlord, occupier or facilities manager you need to be proactive when ensuring the safety of those for whom you are responsible. You can never predict a fire, but you can take all necessary precautions to reduce the likelihood of one and protect your staff.

Do not assume your site meets fire safety regulations

Too many people take fire safety for granted by making the assumption that buildings meet fire safety regulations. In order to ensure that you keep your tenants/employees safe, you must carry out regular fire risk assessments and fire training drills. If there is more than one responsible person, then there needs to be an open line of communication that allows for any fire risks to be dealt with promptly.  One should never ignore their obligations by assuming that fire safety is someone else’s responsibility. A fire will not make that differentiation.

Fire risks are not always obvious

Fire risks are often less obvious than one would first assume. An employer, for example, must educate themselves and learn fire hazards examples, so that they will notice any issues when carrying out regular fire risk assessments. Hazards are usually sources of ignition or fuel sources and may be easily missed. Most companies are filled with different kinds of technology that are, essentially, part of the furniture. Faulty wiring, fittings and extension cables are all hazardous sources that pose a fire risk. Another fire risk that is commonly overlooked – faulty fire alarms. Out of 22,200 fires that occurred between 2013 and 2014, 3700 alarms failed to sound.  This is not good enough. A working fire alarm is a necessity that can make all the difference in an emergency situation. Our fire alarm systems use the very latest in detection technology. They can be integrated into any building management system and can identify the zone that triggered the fire alarm. High-quality fire alarm systems exist for a reason. They are not something that an employer can afford to overlook. For more information on how to carry out a fire risk assessment, see the FPAs guide.

Fire hazards are can worsen, rather than cause, a fire

The integrity of a building structure is essential to ensuring fire safety. It is the responsibility of the employer, facilities manager, landlord, etc., to have the cladding on all buildings assessed. A professional is absolutely necessary for this part of the fire risk assessment process. Local councils and authorities have been carrying out cladding checks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower Fire and, according to ITV News, at least 190 samples have failed fire tests. The BBC report that ‘external cladding has been identified as a potential factor in the rapid spread of the fire’. This reiterates an earlier point: fire risks are not always obvious. There are factors, such as cladding, that go beyond immediate hazards. These risks worsen the destruction a possible fire would cause, rather than cause it in the first place. As we know, this can be just as dangerous.

Fire watch services provide constant vigilance

Recently KM Security Solutions PLC was selected to conduct an “early warning fire watch service” for a leading property management company in addition to a manned guarding and front of house national contract. We are honoured to carry out such an important task, particularly at a time of such vigilance and tragedy. We will be responsible for ensuring the safety of all persons and apartments until tests on the cladding have been completed. If the tests find that the cladding is a risk and needs to be removed, our service will remain in place.

Fire watch services are suitable for a variety of sites, particularly those with multiple buildings and structures to maintain. Private residences and industry sites are difficult to manage and require more than one authority. Employing a team of professionals is the best way to ensure fire safety as it permits the maintenance of constant vigilance. Furthermore, trained professionals know exactly what to do if a situation were to arise.

There is much that responsible person can do to protect their people and site. Be proactive and make yourself aware. 

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