In this post we’ll discuss some key things that should be included in your fire prevention plan. We’ll also discuss how you can best protect your business against the unexpected.
What is a Fire Prevention Plan?
A fire prevention plan will contain various policies and procedures intended to prevent the outbreak of fires in your business premises. And in the event of a fire, the plan may also list procedures for safely containing the fire, and safely evacuating your building. Beyond this, a fire prevention plan may discuss contingency plans for the business interruption that will occur as a result of a fire.
If you have any questions or would like to chat to us about the risks your business might be facing, email us at email@example.com or call us on 020 290 9080.
What Are the Aims of a Fire Prevention Plan?
Your fire prevention plan should have three key objectives:
- To minimise the likelihood of a fire breaking out in the first place.
- To aim to extinguish any fires as quickly as possible.
- In the event of a fire, to minimise its spread within your premises, and to neighbouring sites.
Do I Need a Fire Prevention Plan?
Some businesses have a legal obligation to create fire prevention plans, and to submit them periodically to the Environment Agency. These are mainly businesses that “accept any amount of combustible waste”.
This might include businesses that operate in the following sectors:
- Waste management (including scrap metal sites, non-hazardous waste disposal, biowaste treatment, waste electrical and electronic equipment sites, and incineration and combustion sites).
- Intensive farming.
- Paper and pulp manufacturing.
- Cement lime and mineral processing.
If your business operates in one of these sectors and you don’t have a fire protection plan, the Environment Agency can refuse to issue you an environmental permit.
Yet even beyond the regulatory requirements, all businesses in all sectors should create fire prevention plans.
Why? Because fires can strike any business without warning. And if you’re not prepared, even a small fire can soon become something much more serious. So think of a fire prevention plan as a means of safeguarding your business against unexpected disasters.
What Should You Include in a Fire Prevention Plan?
Principally, your fire prevention plan should outline all the measures you’ll put in place to reduce the risk of a fire. The specific measures you list will depend on the activities your business carries out. So to begin with, your fire prevention plan should provide details of the different types of activity that take place on your business premises.
Identify the Common Causes of Fire
Some businesses will face specific fire risks, such as from certain industrial processes, and from the use of certain oils, fuels, and chemicals.
Yet certain common causes of fire apply to all businesses:
- Arson – List all the security measures in place that will minimise the risk of arson attacks. This might include describing the location of CCTV cameras and alarms.
- Plants and Equipment – List all of the plants and equipment onsite that could carry a fire risk – even if it’s just a microwave or a toaster.
- Electrical Faults – When were your electrics last fully certified by a suitably qualified person? Also describe your procedures for regularly maintaining your electricals, not forgetting the risks of exposed or damaged cables.
- Discarded Smoking Materials – Describe how you regulate smoking onsite, including details of any dedicated smoking areas.
Preventing Fire From Spreading
There are two main ways to prevent a fire from spreading – through separating combustible materials over distances, and through the use of fire walls. Fire walls are specifically constructed to resist heat and flames for periods of at least 120 minutes.
Your fire prevention plan might include detailed plans of your business premises. These plans could highlight any areas where the risk of outbreaks is greatest (such as any areas where you store combustible materials), along with the separation distances and any fire walls you have in place.
Your fire prevention plan should list your procedures for detecting fires in their early stages.
This section should list:
- Any automated detection systems you use, with details on their design, installation, and maintenance.
- The process to follow should one detect a fire, including a clear understanding of who calls 999, along with a process for identifying false alarms.
- Evacuation routes, including all onsite emergency doors and emergency lighting, and a safe meeting point for staff. You should also consider anyone who might have special evacuation requirements, such as wheelchair users or people with visual impairments.
- Details of your training procedures, to ensure that staff know what to do in the event of a fire.
Certain businesses have a regulatory requirement to have fire suppression systems in place. Again, this is mainly businesses that work with any amount of combustible waste.
Yet even if your business does not have to meet these regulations, your fire prevention plan should still outline the fire suppression systems you have onsite. These might include fire doors, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers.
Fire Prevention Plan Template
You can find a fire prevention plan template on the Government’s website.
This template is designed for businesses who have a regulatory requirement to create a fire prevention plan. So while some things it lists might not be relevant for your business, it should still provide a good introduction to the sorts of principles you should consider.
The London Fire Brigade also has a good template for a Fire Evacuation Plan.
How Will Your Business Recover From a Fire?
So far we’ve discussed how your business might work to prevent fires from breaking out in the first place, along with some policies for responding to an outbreak in the short-term.
But what about the long-term? Even a small fire can cause a major disruption to your business practices. Is your business prepared for the unexpected?
Along with your fire prevention plan, you need a business interruption plan. This includes risk-informed business continuity planning for every aspect of your operations, from your stocks to your staff to your supply chain.
You should also consider a dedicated business interruption insurance policy. This can cover loss of income or revenue that your business may suffer if you have to shut for an extended period of time due to an insured disaster event, such as a fire or a flood.
We can provide you with a business interruption calculation to help you ensure you have the right level of cover, with no risk of underinsurance. If you have any questions or would like to chat to us about the risks your business might be facing, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 290 9080.