Fire safety audits; what to expect
An audit of your business fire safety can come from your insurance provider or the NI Fire & Rescue Service.
This can result from a random selection, a complaint by a member of the public / staff or after a fire has occurred. It is is a random selection then you will get about four weeks to prepare! This sounds a lot, but if you have no fire safety measures in place it can be very short. For example, to install a new fire alarm needs time to survey, quote and carried out the works.
How to be prepared;
First, ensure your fire risk assessment is up to date and that work has been undertaken to complete the action points. It is not good enough to say you have the assessment. You need to be seen to be working through it.
Next comes the record keeping! Fire alarm tests and servicing, emergency lighting, fire extinguisher service, staff induction and fire training to name just a few records that must be in place.
Prevention is better than the cure with these so keep on top of the tests, servicing and most importantly keep records. “No records – you never done” it is a phrase we hear from inspectors when assisting clients thought audits.
Looking after people on your site is important and I am not talking about employees! You are responsible for the public, contractors, cleaners etc. Basically, if they are on your premises, then you are responsible for them!
Lastly, they will take a walk around to check the exits and fire escape corridors to see you are actually managing the fire safety in practical terms.
If you need help or guidance, call to discuss as early as possible to allow for the maximum time frame to get compliance before the audit!
So, what happens after? Well, you can receive a “broadly compliant” letter (no-one gets “compliant”), an enforcement or prohibition notice is applied when things have gone wrong! You will get your name and the business published on the Fire Safe page on the NIFRS website! Click on the link to see what notices are in place!
It is worth noting that the NI Fire Service are there to help and assist where they can and only take action where all else has failed, but get ahead of the game and call us to assist you through any audit or fire risk assessments