Fire & Emergency

All about fire and emergency procedures.

Knowing what to do in case of a fire will save lives and prevent injuries. When proper fire protection and prevention measures are in place and practised, workers will know what to do if a fire occurs. This section will provide you with an understanding of how a fire starts, the fire prevention measures you must have in place and the fire protection arrangements you need in case the preventative measures fail.

The good news is that all of this is logical and easy to understand.  There are no shades of grey – fire safety legislation is black and white. The only element you can’t completely plan for is human behaviour, such as how people will react in an emergency, but holding regular fire drills will go a long way towards resolving this.

The legislation

  • Fire Safety Act 2021
  • Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)

The Fire Safety Act 2021 is the result of the Government’s review of legislation following the Grenfell fire. 

Health and Safety Myth

Confusion about the frequency of Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)

An employee queried if the law had been changed for Portable Appliance Testing to be undertaken on double insulated items, such as kettles, in low risk environments such as offices.

There is a widely held misconception that all portable equipment needs portable appliance testing, and often annually.  The law has not changed. There is no legal requirement to carry out portable appliance tests (PAT) in a Iow risk environment such as an office or shop, regular visual checks by the user may be all that is needed to prevent danger.  You don't need to be a qualified electrician to carry out inspection or testing, but some basic knowledge is needed. 

Frequently asked questions

Yes – if you feel competent to do so. For simple premises where there is no “sleeping risk” i.e., where no-one lives on site, the FRA can be straightforward.  If you are unsure about your ability to conduct an FRA, then you should engage an external assessor, having first checked their competence and experience.

Everyone in your organisation must take part in a fire drill at least once a year.  Don’t forget part-time workers, those who are absent (holidays, sickness), casual and temporary staff.  Everyone must know what to do if the fire alarm sounds or if they discover a fire.

All commercial premises are legally required to have an up-to-date fire risk assessment (FRA) in place and for any identified actions to have been carried out.

If you rent space in serviced offices, it is the landlord’s responsibility to have an FRA for the whole premises in place.  You only require an FRA for your working area.

If you rent your premises, check the tenancy agreement to see who is responsible for the FRA.

If you are the landlord, you must make sure you have an FRA from each of your tenants.