Fire safety 
There were a total of 13,550 fires in non-residential buildings that occurred in the year ending March 2023, including: 
• 366 fires that occurred in offices (including call centres), injuring 15 people. 
• 1,325 fires that occurred in retail premises, injuring 32 people. 
• 1,744 fires that occurred in industrial premises, fatally injuring 1 person, and injuring 92 others. 
• 487 fires that occurred in agricultural premises, injuring 20 people. 
• 1,362 fires that occurred in premises providing food and drink, injuring 107 people. 
• 587 fires that occurred in the hospitality sector, fatally injuring 2, and injuring 83 others. 
Retail premises, offices, hospitality, and industrial premises all saw an increase in both deliberate and non-deliberate fires on the previous year, with hospitality and offices seeing an increase in the number of persons injured due to a fire. Concerningly, most fires are preventable. 
In April 2007 a fire broke out in high street retailer New Looks store in Oxford Street, London. Following an investigation by the HSE, New Look were fined a record £400,000 for fire safety breaches that included failing to supply a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment and training for staff. Reports mentioned that staff initially ignored early warning signs such as smoke coming from a window, and a potentially faulty intermittent alarm. The building could not be recovered due to the extent of the fire damage and was later demolished. 
Our primary aim should always be to ensure fires in the workplace are prevented so a fire safety risk assessment should be completed by employers (and/or building owners or occupiers) and kept up to date, ensuring any changes to the premises or controls are recorded. In doing the risk assessment, businesses can identify what may cause a fire (ignition sources, flammable substances, explosive atmospheres), and who might be at risk if a fire starts, allowing them to ensure necessary steps are taken to control the risks. A worryingly high number of businesses are fined by the HSE because they have not completed a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment for their workplace. 
The fire safety order also requires the responsible person (business owner) to: 
• Tell staff or their representatives about the risks identified. 
• Put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures. 
• Plan for an emergency. 
• Provide staff information, fire safety instruction, and training. 
The risks present in your workplace will be largely affected by the building and nature of work being completed, but some significant controls will remain consistent: 
• Keep ignition sources and flammable substances apart. 
• Avoid accidental fires by ensuring ignition sources cannot be knocked over such as heaters and naked flames. 
• Always manage housekeeping so that a build up of combustibles such as wood shavings, cardboard or waste does not occur. 
Only once a fire safety risk assessment has been completed can an employer manage the risks suitably and sufficiently. It is also vital to think about how people will be protected in the event of a fire, including any visitors to your workspace such as members of the public, agency workers, and contractors. 
Other than the fire safety risk assessment, other things to consider when reviewing fire risks for your business should include: 
• If there is a fire detection system, such as smoke alarms? 
• If an audible warning system or an alternative means to alert people to a fire is in place? 
• If appropriate fire-fighting equipment is available? 
• If fire exits and escape routes are clearly marked and unobstructed at all times? 
• If appropriate training on procedures such as fire drills has been delivered to all workers, so they know how to respond in the event of a fire? 
• If electrical equipment is inspected periodically? 
• If there are any duties and responsibilities under the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 
• If an emergency management plan is in place that includes steps to follow for any vulnerable persons. 
We know from the statistics that fires in the workplace do happen, even only last month 15 fire crews attended a fire on an industrial estate that destroyed more than 40 other businesses. By proactively assessing fire risk in your business, you will have a significant impact on your ability to keep your employees and your business safe. 
If you would like to discuss opportunities in your business regarding this or any other health and safety related matters then please call Leanne on 07709 675925, or Tracey on 07872 589286. Alternatively, you can drop us a message at
Tagged as: Fire Safety
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