Fire safety – control of contractors

Managing the fire risk from contractors;

Fire safety – control of contractors – are you completing a renovation, shop fit out or just a new boiler installed requires the knowledge and skill of external contractors. The risk of a fire is increase during these works from increased electrical use, hot works (open flame tools) and increased fire loading from building materials.

If you are planning building work in your business premises, have you considered the increased fire risk? Do you want to be the next Primark?

However, there are means to control the risk by applying a few simple rules;

Firstly, plan ahead! Before the works start you need to ask for a copy of the contractor Risk Assessments and Method Statements (known as the RAMS!) This details out how they intend to manage the risk and assess the control measures. Read the RAMS and ensure you ask questions about how they intend to prevent a fire! Also check they are insured.

Secondly; a site induction is required. Meet the site manager or supervisor and ensure they are made of the fire safety aspects of the premises. Ensure they give their staff an induction of the site.

Next, brief your own staff of the scope of the works and the extra vigilance required to ensure everyone’s safety during the works. Fire safety is everyone’s responsibility!

During the works; make sure there is regular site inspections to enforce the rules that have been put in place. Examples include; keeping the escape routes clear at all times, not obstructing fire extinguishes or fire alarm call points and skips aren’t within 10m of the building. An end of day walk around to make sure there is no non-essential electrical items left on, the site is clean and tidy with minimal accumulation of rubbish and there are no materials left outside that will be of use to an arsonist.

Most importantly – HOT WORK PROCEDURES!

This is when an open flamed, spark producing or heat generating devices are used within construction. The risk of a fire is substantially increased! This is what is believed to be the cause of the fire in Primark.

Again, this is easily managed! Always check to see if the hot work needs to be completed inside! Can the workers carry the work outside? If not, start with a pre-work inspection to remove flammable materials before the work starts. The work must be completed at least 30 minutes before they leave the site to allow for a fire watch. Ensure the workers are aware of the emergency procedures and the need to have fire extinguishers nearby (as long as they are trained!)

Control is the key to managing the works in your business premises! Get in touch if you need any further guidance

Fire safety, the control of contractors
Contractors fire risk

Arson – what is the risk to your business?

Arson! The criminal act of deliberate fire setting is surprisingly one of the biggest fire risks to your business premises. These acts can be planned from a disgruntled ex-employee, an unhappy customer or a business rival to random fire setting during a civil disturbance. In 2014 there were 1260 acts of deliberate fire setting in Northern Ireland (NIFRS 2014)

However, there are simple things that can be done to protect your business from an arson attack;

Firstly, is carrying out the fire risk assessment to identify who is at risk from

an attack and the likelihood of this happening. The risk to an 9-5 office is different than that of a hotel!

Next, review the security of the site from the outer fence / access areas to prevent unwanted intruders. Good lighting, fences and locked gates are a good start. CCTV, Roller shutters and an intruder alarm are also good deterrents! Don’t forget to put up signs to let the potential arsonists know you have CCTV.

Limit the materials outside that can be used by an arsonist. Ensure the bins are secured away from the building, rubbish is moved away and skips are located more than 10 metres from the premises. Limiting the availability of flammable material will nearly eliminate the chance arsonist in one go!

Lastly, brief staff of the arson risk and the measures that have been put in place to reduce the risk!

These measures will not cost the business an excessive financial outlay but there will be some cost for CCTV and roller shutters. These costs can offset insurance costs and hopefully prevent damage to the business operations.

Get in touch with one of the team if you need further fire safety advise or this or any other fire safety topic

Video courtesy of ITV News 2019