The Ultimate Guide to Fire Safety Equipment at Work
Whether you work in an office, hotel, restaurant or warehouse, every workplace is required to have some essential fire safety equipment. According to the UK government requirements, every business owner has a legal responsibility to ensure that their work premises have all the necessary protective equipment installed and that it’s regularly maintained in full working condition.
Let’s take a look at the things you must have in order to be compliant with the law and keep everyone safe at work!
Fire Alarm Systems
The standard regulating the fire alarm system requirements in the UK (BS 5839,) states that all workplaces, regardless of their type, should have “an appropriate fire detection system”. In essence, this means that if a fire occurs, there must be a system in place to notify everyone on the premises about the danger. Depending on the specific requirements of the building, the fire alarm systems you install could be either hardwired or wireless.
Every fire detection system includes multiple pieces of fire equipment, such as:
- Smoke detectors detect the presence of smoke in the room
- Heat detectors sound the fire alarm when the temperature reaches a certain level
- Fire bells produce the loud ringing noise you hear when the fire alarm is activated
- CO detectors sound the alarm if dangerous levels of carbon monoxide are detected
- Manual call points allow anyone to trigger the fire alarm manually
- The fire panel is the central element of the fire alarm system and all other devices report to it
- Sprinkler systems can be installed as part of a robust fire alarm system to help extinguish fires
Whether you decide to buy a wireless fire alarm or a hardwired fire alarm, having the appropriate system in place is extremely important to the safety of your staff and is a mandatory element of your compliance activities.
According to the BS 5306 Standards (the Fire Industry Association’s standards for fire extinguishers), every business premises must have a minimum of two class A fire extinguishers on each floor of the building. Depending on the specificities of your work and the building itself, your workplace will be more prone to certain classes of fire.
There are five main types of fire extinguishers to reflect the specific requirements of each fire class:
- Water Fire Extinguisher (Red label)
- Foam Fire Extinguisher (Cream label)
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extinguisher (Black label)
- Dry Powder Extinguisher (Blue label)
- Wet Chemical Extinguisher (Yellow label)
Conducting a fire risk assessment will give you details on the exact type and number of fire extinguishers you must have, as well as where they should be placed to best manage the fire-related safety hazards in the workplace. For more on the fire extinguisher colours, types and uses, check out our comprehensive fire extinguisher guide.
Another essential piece of fire safety equipment is the fire blanket. No kitchen, be it at home or in the office, should go without one. Fire blankets come in various sizes and can be protected by different types of casing but in essence, they are the best tool for extinguishing small kitchen fires and fires on personal clothing.
Fire Exit Signs
Every workplace should have a minimum of two distinct escape routes that are clearly marked with fire exit signs. These fire exit signs must be clearly visible and placed over every door and window, as well as along the escape route to direct people to the exit in the event of a fire emergency. As the sign must be legible in the dark or if the room is filled with smoke, they are often equipped with LED lights.
Another fire safety equipment solution that helps the evacuation process is the emergency lights. They are designed to remain on for several hours (minimum 3 hours), even if the main power supply is down. As the emergency lights are very important to a safe evacuation, you need to perform a monthly inspection using an emergency light test sheet.
FIRE DOCUMENTS STORAGE CABINETS
All of your risk management activities, including monthly tests, maintenance inspections and fire risk assessment reports should be accurately logged to ensure you can prove your regulatory compliance in the event of an inspection. This is why it’s best to keep fire logbooks and official paperwork in a lockable document storage cabinet.