" " Fire escape routes must be kept clear at all times. Even if there are gaps around obstacles, during an emergency there may be smoke and people might be rushing, so it's important to make sure the area is tidy.
We strongly encourage anyone spotting any breach of practice to either engage with the premises manager or to notify the local fire brigade. Here are some examples and the cost to rectify the issues which have been sent in to Firescout.
" " This extinguisher is in a visible, accessible place, but in an emergency the pulpit could be cumbersome to move, increasing time to access or even cause accidents. Access to fire extinguishers must never be restricted.
" " This blockage may only take a few seconds to remove, but every second is vital in the event of a fire. Access to fire extinguishers must never be restricted, and they should be sited in highly visible locations, not hidden in a corner.
" " An emergency exit must be operable at all times. Whilst a tamper seal is acceptable, a padlocked chain is certainly not and must never be left in place when premises are occupied. This could cost lives in an emergency.
" " A transit chair will allow you to transport people, but is no more suitable than a standard office chair at descending stairs. Evacuation chairs allow controlled descent of stairs with auto-braking tracks.
" " Fire extinguishers should always be accessible easily, so that a fire can be tackled without delay. This hose is wrapped around the extinguisher and in a panic you would struggle to untangle the extinguisher.
" " This restriction of the fire exit width could be very dangerous if people are trying to push through this route in a panic, especially if there is also smoke. It would lead certainly to a fine if the fire brigade should visit.
" " Cutting a hole like a cat flap into a fire resistant door renders the fire protection of the door useless. Smoke will be able to come through the cat flap and the plastic will melt when the fire reached the door.
" " Fire exit signs should be clearly visible and located at each point of the escape route where the direction changes. In the event of a fire, well displayed signs can quickly guide everyone to safety.
" " Exposed electrical wiring creates both a risk of shock and a fire hazard. Wires should be correctly connected to a plug and the extension lead should be positioned carefully to prevent damage to the cable.
" " Fire escape routes and exits should provide a quick and safe way of evacuating the building. A slippery staircase can be particularly hazardous when people are rushing to escape in an emergency. Clean fire escape stairs regularly and apply a slip-resistant material to steps to improve grip in wet conditions.
" " As with all fire safety equipment, it is important to make sure installation and maintenance are carried out properly. Always consult the instructions and if needs be, the guidance of your fire safety officer or manufacturer. In this case the extinguisher would have easily been knocked and damaged or moved from its location as recorded in the fire safety log book, making raising the level of risk, especially in emergencies.
" " When an alarm sounds, especially when customers or clients are present, it can be tempting to hit the hush button on a fire alarm panel and then forget about it. But if you want the system to continue working as it should, you should always make sure it is reset.
" " Sprinkler heads have valves inside them that break when they reach a certain temperature. When coated in paint, this can interfere with the valves or even stop them breaking altogether. They can't be repaired or cleaned either and must be replaced completely, so it's important to protect them from paint when decorating.
" " While an extinguisher and other fire safety equipment can be in its correct location as specified in your fire safety logbook, hiding them away or mixing them with other items can still cause confusion in the case of emergency. In some environments the equipment could also be tampered with or damaged when other items are close to it.
" " Emergency lighting units guide people towards safety in emergencies and evacuations. Obfuscating signage in any way will make this more difficult for people who aren't familiar with the layout of the building, but covering with paint like this will also restrict the light coming through, in case that there is a power outage and people need to escape in low light situations.
" " Not only should you make sure that access to firedoors are clear at all times to escape a fire, but also that when people are evacuating a building they don't need to interfere with any equipment, tools or objects that could cause them further harm. It's good to have a place for everything and make sure that all staff and visiting contractors are aware of them.
" " Various sections of the building will be sealed off from one another to help restrict fire and smoke spreading. It only takes a small hole to allow these to pass through and it can also work as a way of providing more oxygen to keep a fire burning for longer. It's important to remember to know what work has been carried out by contractors to make sure fire safety regulations aren't broken.
" " In emergencies, evacuees will promptly make their way to the nearest fire exit. If this is blocked or inaccessible it will cause confusion and possibly cause an acident in itself. The last thing you want is people trying to find an alternative exit or having to bring people back in to the building to help the injured, so keep the area clear at all times.
" " A fire survey will let you know where your extinguishers should be positioned and what type they should be. You should have them mounted or on a base, with the correct signage. It must be obvious as to where the extinguisher should permanently reside so it's easy to maintain and to find in case of emergency.
" " Exposed electrical cables are both a trip hazard and a fire hazard, tempting spillages and damage to the wires. Also, when the foam of a chair is exposed, there's a chance that the fire proofing will have no effect, making it more dangerous in the event of a fire.
" " Firedoors help stop the spread of fire through a building. Having gaps between doors or between a door and the frame will increase the amount of oxygen, and ultimately flames, that can pass through to the next area of the building. Seals can help to prevent this, and will stop both the fire and smoke and can usually be fitted with minimal fuss.
" " Fire exits should be clear and accessible at all times. In the event of an emergency, such as a fire breaking out, there's a good chance people will want to quickly evacuate the area. Blocking fire exits with anything is bad enough, but by putting extinguishers there they are not properly wall mounted or placed on a holder, meaning they are not in the location that trained staff or fire officers would expect them to be if they had to use them.
" " It's inevitable that sometimes a firedoor will need to be held open, especially when work is being carried out in the area. But it's your responsibility that everyone complies with fire safety regulations in your building, even contract workers. Screwdrivers might not be as bad as moving fire extinguishers to hold a door open, but there must be a retainer with a release mechanism in place. Screwdrivers will also make it very hard to close the door quickly if they get stuck, allowing a fire to spread quickly.
" " It's vital that fire extinguishers are hung on their hooks or placed in their stands correctly so that in the event of a fire breaking out they can be located and used quickly. It will also reduce the chances of the extinguishers being tampered with or accidentally damaged.
" " It's usually a fire extinguisher that's used to incorrectly hold open firedoors, but in this case it was a large rock. But regardless, firedoors should only ever be held open by a device that has a proper release mechanism, such as the Dorgard retainer.
" " There is a good reason to commission fire extinguishers. For those that do not know, the silver object under the squeeze handle is a J hook to hang the new extinguisher on, with it still being in the way, even if you remove the safety pin you can not operate the squeeze handle.
" " Firedoors must be kept closed at all times, unless you have a proper fire door retainer that will close the door for you when an alarm sound. Not only are you creating a hazard with the fire door, allowing fire to spread quickly through a building, but you are also moving an extinguisher from its proper position.
" " Many systems have a mute or hush button to silence a sounding alarm, but it's important that this is only used as a way to stop the noise while both the cause is being investigated and remedied and the panel reset. Leaving a panel in a hushed state could cause further alerts to be missed.
" " When smoke, carbon monoxide or heat alarms sound, there is a reason. If there is no fire or smoke setting it off, then it may need replacing or the battery changing. It's important you never leave the alarm unusable as they are often your first alert to a fire, especially while you sleep.
" " All fire safety devices should be used as the instructions and regulations state. A common problem in fire safety is not the lack of equipment, but the misuse of them. Be strict when it comes to maintaining, servicing and using all of them.
" " As businesses grow, space can become limited, sometimes leading in fire safety being neglected. Fire exits should always be easily accessible with clear walkways and doorways that aren't blocked or locked.
" " As with fire doors, fire resisting loft hatches should always be placed back in their original position after use. They are there to stop fire spreading to new locations. When a fire can escape through to the roof, the fire and smoke can quickly spread throughout the building, causing life threatening danger to occupants.
" " Keeping any device maintained, fire safety specific or otherwise, is crucial to avoid accidents and fire hazards. The build of residues inside vents, such as grease and dust, combined with heat, can cause serious, life-threatening fires. Service should be carried out on these devices, and they shouldn't be used again until they are back in their full working state.
" " When escape routes are often used to store items, an alternative storage area should be provided. Fire extinguishers should be placed in the location they appear in your fire safety logbook and serviced regularly to make sure they are usable.
" " Fire escape routes should be kept clear at all times, especially when it comes to combustible items, to minimize hazards to evacuees and to minimize the spread of fire. If there is evidence of smokers using an area they shouldn't, you can consider installing a cigarette smoke detector also.
" " Dust covers can be handy while maintenance and building work is being carried out that can cause dust and trigger or clog the alarm sesnsors, but these should be removed immediately when the work is finished. Regular smoke alarm tests should also be carried out by an appointed member of staff.
" " Unextinguished cigarette butts are a common cause of fiires. Even with fire retardant surfaces, over time the risk is increased when continually exposed to heat. If you suspect people are smoking in unofficial smoke areas, consider installing a cigarette smoke detector and applicable signage.
" " Chaining multiplug adaptors is a risk in itself, but placing objects over them will heat them up and increase the risk of a fire. If these items are easily combustible, the fire will spread very quickly in to the rest of the office. Always try to use a mains socket or a UPS where necessary, and keep the area tidy.
" " Sometimes items are left in corridoors for convenience during day-to-day work, but this can be hazardous if it is used as a fire escape route. What's more, combustible items will spread the fire rapidly and endanger people trying to use the route.
" " It is important to control contractors during works and inspect the finished product prior to payment being made. Fires are made worse when they are given the space to spread and not limited with compartmentation, so when building work is taken out be sure that new hazards aren't introduced.
" " Fire doors shouldn't be held open unless it's by a fire door retainer. Escape routes should be clear and free from trip hazards. Combustible items further increase the risk of spreading fire throughout the building.
" " Sometimes fire safety devices can seem inconvenient and get in the way. But not only can it be illegal to put them out of action, it can be highly dangerous. If a fire door needs holding open, it can be done so legally with a fire door retainer, which self-closes when smoke alarms sound.
" " Not only is it vital to have a pre-determined fire evacuation plan, but all fire exits should be kept clear too. Blocking entrances can cause trip hazards and block the flow of evacuees leaving via that route.
" " Fire doors help to contain fire and smoke if there is fire in a building. To function properly, they need to be able to close automatically in case of a fire or need to be kept close in the first place. Wedging fire doors open is dangerous, as the smoke and fire will now spread unhindered. If you want to keep fire doors open for air circulation or easy of movement you need to use fire door retainers.
" " The smoke alarm on this picture is at head height. Should there be a fire it would take a long time for the smoke to reach this level, as the smoke first accumulates on the ceiling and then fills the room as it travels downwards. Valuable escape time would be lost because of this, so always try to fit smoke alarms on the ceiling.
" " Always make sure that fire doors are either closed or kept open in a way that ensures that the door closes automatically if there is a fire. Fire door retainers are the answers. By mis-using an extinguisher as a fire door holder, you also have removed an important fire fighting piece of equipment from its normal place, which could lead to problems when you try to find the extinguisher in a rush.