When it comes to fire risk assessment, if there’s a fire alarm, or an actual fire, it’s vital that you know people will follow the correct procedure for evacuation. Following an established fire drill is one thing, but in situations where the unexpected happens, the danger is that a kind of mob mentality can take over.
This means those evacuating go with the flow, rather than following a plan, and accidents happen as people are trampled or crushed in the rush to escape.
Many people are unaware of the fire safety regulations governing their workplace, or worse, will choose to ignore a fire alarm unless told otherwise.
Common Fire Safety Hazards
Along with poor fire evacuation procedures, other common fire hazards include:
- blocked fire exits;
- fire doors wedged open; and
- faulty or broken fire doors.
Some of these occur so frequently that they barely register with people, making them even more dangerous.
Fire doors, for example, are the first line of defence in the event of a fire. They are there to prevent the rapid spread of fire and smoke, but if they are left wedged open, they will fail to do this.
Here, being fire safety compliant is simply a matter of ensuring that fire doors are in proper working order, and are being used correctly, which means not propping them open for convenience of movement.
If a fire door gets damaged and either fails to close properly or not at all, then to be compliant you must have it repaired or replaced.
A fire door is a relatively simple measure for preventing the spread of fire, but it is an effective one, providing it works properly.
A fire exit may well be the normal entrance to your building, but there will be alternative fire exits, should this normal, main entrance be blocked.
It is therefore vital that these other fire exits remain unobstructed at all times. It is too easy to leave boxes and supplies stacked up in back corridors, which can then be obstacles in the event of a fire and evacuation.
There is also the issue of locking fire exits to consider. A fire risk assessment will tell you that fire exit doors must not be locked when a building is in use. Forgetting to have them unlocked can lead to prosecution.
Finally, it is also crucial that you have clear signs for your exit doors, and that they open in the direction of escape.