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How can you and your business help the fire service during the coronavirus pandemic?

The situation involving coronavirus (COVID-19) is unprecedented and many businesses will be making decisions that they have not faced before.

We are encouraging every member of the public to help reduce demand on public services. One of the ways you can help is to ensure you and your staff remain vigilant in respect of keeping your premises safe from fire. 

Keep Fire Doors Closed

We are aware that many people are propping open fire doors to prevent staff from having to touch door handles. Fire doors should not be propped open. Instead of doing this you should follow Government advice about handwashing and good hygiene.

Managing absence and fire safety responsibilities

Review your fire risk assessment and evacuation plans to reflect any changes in staffing levels.

General fire precautions

  • Ensure your escape routes are kept clear of obstructions and available for use at all times.
  • Keep up with fire alarm tests and maintenance requirements.
  • Be aware of the increase of potential combustible items stored where stock is not being moved or waste materials are not being collected.
  • Consider the increased risk from arson resulting from the accumulation/ spread of stored goods and waste. 

Where staff with key fire safety responsibilities are absent, consider how those duties and functions can still be met.  This may include the roles of fire marshals, safety officers, and maintenance staff. 

Certain staff may be working in new areas or undertaking roles that they are not familiar with.  You must ensure that your general fire precautions are not affected by this.  

Looking after your automatic fire alarm 

False alarms from automatic fire alarms account for around 450 call outs for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service each month which impacts on our ability to attend other incidents. With the current situation around coronavirus, these false alarms put staff and members of the public at risk by bringing them together to respond. 

You can help by doing the following: 

  • Make sure you continue weekly fire tests.
  • Keep in touch with your fire alarm engineer to ensure they are able to continue to maintain your system and provide emergency cover in the event of a fault.
  • Ensure you have a plan to suitably address and deal with any automatic false alarms, to prevent unnecessary calls to the fire service.

  

What should you do if you are closing your premises?

If you have made the decision to close your premises, we recommend that you take the following actions:

  • Turn off all non-essential electrical appliances.
  • Where appliances do need to be left on, such as fridge/freezer, ensure they are well ventilated, kept clear of storage and there are no signs of any electrical faults.
  • Do not switch off your fire alarm system where it is still required to protect people who live within your premises or where it forms part of a communal fire alarm system for the building. You should also consider discussing with your insurance company any actions likely to impact upon the terms of your policy.
  • Do not switch off your mains power supply to your fire alarm system if it is still required and make arrangements to continue with regular checks to ensure the system remains in working order.
  • Ensure any shared escape routes or way-leave agreements remain available to use by other occupiers where they remain open for business.
  • Consider the risk of arson by ensuring your premises is secure.
  • Leave contact details in a place visible to fire crews should they have to gain entry to your premises.

You do not need to contact us to notify us you are temporarily closing your business.

Where can you get additional advice?

For more Business Fire Safety Advice please visit our website: https://www.dsfire.gov.uk/YourSafety/SafetyAtWorkAndOtherPlaces/Index.cfm?siteCategoryId=4&T1ID=36  

Alternatively, if you would If like to speak to a fire safety officer regarding your premises, please contact our helpline on 01392 872567 during normal office hours or email firesafety@dsfire.gov.uk

*average call-outs per month is 454. This does not include false alarms with malicious intent.

Contact Information

Ellie Banner-Ball

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

07538 677945

ebannerball@dsfire.gov.uk