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It is an alarming fact that more that up to 80% of businesses involved in a major incident either never manage to reopen, or subsequently fail altogether within three years. Aside from the corporate responsibility, to keep all staff and customers safe upon one’s premises, this is a major reason to ensure your retail business remains current in its’ fire safety procedures and regulations.

Here are a few aspects that should be taken into account when considering your retail business fire precautions:

Retail fire risk assessment

Every business (not just retail) should make a fire risk assessment the first step in ensuring safety. A standard risk assessment comprises of 5 stages – these are:

  1. Identify all possible sources of ignition and potentially combustible materials on the premises
  2. Consider all potentially vulnerable people and the level of risk to them from fire
  3. Provide fire precautions and ensure fire risks are reduced as much as possible
  4. Provide the relevant fire safety equipment (extinguishers, internal fire doors, signage etc.) and provide extensive training to relevant staff. Inform all people of emergency plan.
  5. Record the results of any relevant tests on procedure and equipment, and ensure regular reviews and updates are performed.

Reduce fire hazards to a minimum

You should ensure that the elements a fire needs to burn and spread (heat, oxygen and fuel) are reduced to a minimum on the premises. It is important that you keep items such as heaters, naked flames, bottled gases and electrical equipment away from combustible materials and areas of fire risk.

Fully equip your business with fire fighting equipment

Your building should be fully equipped with the relevant fire-fighting tools. Ensure you have the correct type of fire extinguishers for your environment and that they are relevantly placed and clearly signposted, should they be required.

It is essential that reliable fire detection and alarm systems should be in place and that people are aware of their meaning, if sounded.

Internal fire doors are essential for the containment of any fire break-out in ensuring people’s safety and escape routes. All these systems and equipment need to checked regularly and maintained to the highest standard.

Put an emergency plan in place

Ensure all relevant staff – specifically chosen fire wardens – know how to access, and are properly trained in the correct use of, all fire safety equipment. Ensure there is a full emergency plan in place and all staff, and others, are aware of the contents in regard to how to act, where to go and such. Clear, relevant signage and instructions at pertinent places around the premises is essential.

Consider, not only staff, but customers, visitors and people at greater risk (such as the elderly, disabled or children) when establishing your emergency plans.

Regularly check your equipment and review procedures

Remember also, that fire safety compliance within your business is not simply the right and responsible thing, it is also a legal requirement! So ensure all equipment and procedures are regularly reviewed and updated, especially if there are structural or physical internal changes to the premises.

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