Festive safety reminder to local businesses

Local businesses are being reminded to keep their premises safe from fire in the final run-up to Christmas.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service wants all local businesses to check their fire risk assessments and make changes to their processes if necessary.

DW Fire Business Fire Safety Manager Ellie Gray said: “During the festive season, shops can have large amounts of extra stock, decorations are usually hung up, and there can be seasonal employees who perhaps don’t know the processes as well as other staff. Too many businesses don’t recover after the devastation of having a fire, so we really want people to take a bit of time to check their premises are as safe as possible.”

She added: “All businesses are required by law to have a fire risk assessment, but this may need to be amended to reflect any changes to internal layout, additional lights and decorations, or anything that may impact on your fire safety precautions.”

Among the risks that are being highlighted to businesses are:

  • Safe storage of additional stock, so it doesn’t block thoroughfares or doors.
  • Safe disposal of additional packaging, such as cardboard.
  • Maintaining safe escape routes and fire exits.
  • Ensuring that temporary staff fully understand what they should do in the event of a fire.
  • Keeping decorations away from alarm sensors and anything that generates heat.
  • Not overloading plug sockets to accommodate lights or additional equipment. Use gang extension leads rather than plug adaptors, and make sure all electrical items have been had a portable appliance test (PAT).
  • Blocking access to, or communal areas of, any residential provision above the business.

With the cost of energy rising all the time, it’s understandable that many businesses are looking for ways to save some money. However, there are some areas where a saving could be a false economy – and a fire risk. Things to remember include:

  • Maintaining and testing fire safety systems is essential, both for fire safety and legal compliance.
  • There is a legal requirement to ensure that a premises fire risk assessment is carried out, and that it is “suitable and sufficient”.
  • Keep your staff training up to date.

Further guidance on how to stay safe when cutting costs can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/save-safely 

More information on amending your fire risk assessment to make it suitable for this time of year can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk/business-fire-safety/festive-season