Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Advice for businesses during coronavirus pandemic

Review your fire risk assessment

Ensure your Fire Risk Assessment has been reviewed and reflects the way your premises currently operates. For example, if staff numbers have increased or decreased as a result of the current pandemic, this should be recorded in the risk assessment along with the impact of the change and any additional measures required to mitigate the change in risk.

Review your staff training

Some businesses have taken on additional/ temporary staff to cope with demand. Ensure all new staff and existing staff are aware of general fire safety within the premises, for example what to do on discovering a fire, what to do when hearing the fire alarm, the location of escape routes, keeping exits clear etc.

Review your evacuation procedures

If staff numbers have increased, are there sufficient exits? Do any new staff members require assistance with evacuating the building? If staff numbers have reduced, are there sufficient trained staff members to assist with evacuation as necessary? (roll calls, fire warden sweeps, moving/assisting residents etc.) Are all of your evacuation routes still available? (including any routes shared with other businesses).

Review your fire safety arrangements

You should consider the impact coronavirus has on your fire safety arrangements. How will it affect the testing and maintenance of fire safety critical equipment such as fire alarm and detection systems, emergency lighting, extinguishers etc.

Consider lone workers

If you have fewer people working within the premises you should consider how they will be warned of a fire occurring, is the fire alarm and detection system suitable to raise the alarm of people working alone and in remote locations on site?

Consider the testing & maintenance of fire safety systems

Fire safety equipment and systems such as fire alarm and detection systems, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, sprinklers etc. need to be regularly tested and maintained to ensure they are kept in good working order. Rescheduling any routine maintenance should be discussed this with your maintenance company/ Service Engineer. If your premises are occupied you should ensure in routine tests such as weekly fire alarm tests, monthly emergency lighting tests etc. continue and that you have a sufficient number of people who are trained to do this to cover for sickness and/or absence. If your premises has been left unoccupied for a period of time, all equipment should be checked and functioning before it is reoccupied.

Keep escape routes clear

Escape routes should be kept clear at all times and final exit doors should be easily openable. If due to the coronavirus pandemic your stock levels have increased, the stock will need to be carefully managed. The stock should not obstruct escape routes, and care should be taken to ensure that it is not positioned so as to affect the operation of fire safety equipment such as detector heads and sprinkler heads.

Fire doors

We know people are worried that the virus may be transmitted via surfaces that are regularly touched such as door handles. We cannot stress enough how important it is to NOT wedge open fire doors. We ask you to focus on cleaning door handles/push plates regularly. Fire doors are a very important part of protecting people within a premises and need to remain closed.

Protect your premises from arson

Extra care should be taken if your premises are vacant during the coronavirus pandemic, please ensure the premises are secure and any combustibles left externally are removed from site or stored securely. Do not store combustible items close to the premises.

Staff working from home?

Encourage your staff to consider fire safety within their homes.

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