Fire safety in the office – five ways you can prevent the risk of fire

Did you know that 86% of businesses that suffer from fires never recover and go out of business?

Any type of fire is devastating, but a fire happening to your business can result in the loss of valuable assets and structural damage to your building as well as the loss of life.

It is the responsibility of everyone in the office to minimise the risk of office fires and ensure that your business is protected.

Here are five ways you can help to lower the risk of fires in your workplace.

1. Protect your appliances

According to the London Fire Brigade, one in three fires are caused by faulty electrics.

Over time, electrical appliances like photocopiers, monitors, heaters and microwaves can become damaged, increasing the risk of them malfunctioning. It only takes one spark from a damaged appliance to cause a damaging fire.

Visually check appliances regularly and do not use them if cases are dented, you can see scorch marks or frayed cables.

Portable appliance testing (PAT) is an ideal way of testing your electrical appliances and making sure they do not pose a fire risk or will cause an electrical fault.

2. Keep clutter to a minimum

Whether in the office or factory, messy rooms mean more combustible materials, which can pose an increased fire risk.

Encourage your staff to clean up as they go, and empty bins regularly. Waste should be stored outside in a lockable bin until it is ready for collection.

Also, be sure to stick to a thorough cleaning schedule. Dust and grease can lead to electrical equipment overheating. Store cleaning liquids in a lockable cupboard when not in use.

3. Watch your sockets

Make sure that you have an adequate amount of sockets for each room in your building. Overloading plug sockets or using too many extension cables can increase the risk of electrical fires.

You are legally required to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) on your sockets every five years in offices and shops and every three years in factories. This ensures that your sockets are safe and functioning as they should.

4. Keep your emergency exits clear

You need to keep corridors and walkways clear so if there is a fire, people can exit the building without causing bottlenecks. Regularly check paths to ensure they are not blocked, and under no circumstances do not leave items in front of fire doors.

Regular fire drills will help ensure that exits are clear, as well as keep staff informed of your fire procedures.

5. Train your staff

Everyone needs to work together to reduce the risk of fires. At induction, make staff aware how to use electrical equipment safety (for example, turning computers and monitors off at the end of the day) and what they need to do in the event of a fire. If you have staff that smoke or vape, they need to do this away from the building and dispose of cigarettes and matches safely.

You need to train up fire wardens to guide everyone out to safety as well as check for people who have been left behind. If your business is low risk you need one fire warden per 50 staff, if your business is high risk (for example, you work with combustible materials) you need one fire warden per 15 staff.

If you are looking for a company to help lower the risk of fire in your office, Hawkesworth can help.

We not only provide PAT testing and EICR testing to a range of companies across the UK and Ireland but can also test your fire alarms and carry out a fire risk assessment so you know what you need to do to keep compliant.