This year, the week of September 11th to the 17th was the NFCC’s UK Business Safety Week. It is a great campaign to help businesses understand fire safety and their obligations to assess risk. It only lasts a week but there is hope that the knowledge gained from the UK Business Safety Week will carry on for the rest of the year.

In the UK last year there have been over 39,000 fires in businesses. These fires occurred in a range of businesses from offices and call centres to hospitals, hotels and food and drink establishments. Small and medium sized businesses are at a greater risk due to the owners and employees not being aware of the legislation and who is responsible for fire regulations. The Fire Safety Week also focusses on arson and how to safeguard against it. This is due to the fact that 80 per cent of businesses that suffer an arson attack do not recover from the damage and find themselves out of business.

Sound fire safety is required all year round, especially at times when a business is gearing up for a holiday. Hiring extra people for a holiday season that aren’t aware of the fire safety regulations and safeguards in place can be dangerous.  A well-laid out plan, along with training for fire safety can be key for a successful season. The week is scheduled before the Christmas season for this very reason. In addition to new, temporary employees, there is also the problem of excess stock arriving and being stored inappropriately. Even a shutdown period, as some businesses have over the holidays, needs to be done correctly to avoid the chance of a fire.

Educating and assisting businesses on what they need to do and what help is out there for them is one of the key aims of the week. Fire and rescue services hold events and activities across the country to engage with businesses in the community. They work with them to help manage their fire risk as well as help them to complete their fire risk assessments. This work is being done to help businesses avoid fires and continue to trade.

Businesses are asked to ensure they take, or have taken, action to prevent fires, take action to protect their business from an arson attack, make sure that all of their staff are trained properly to respond to a fire, and to work with their local fire service. By asking them to take these actions, the local businesses are able to find out what support and advice they can get from their local fire service all year round. This piece is crucial, as many businesses are not aware of this support.

Mark Hardingham, NFCC’s Business Safety lead said: “Building on the success of previous years, NFCC and UK fire and rescue services will be working with small to medium sized businesses to help them ensure they are able to operate in a way that is safe from the terrible effects of fire.”

 

He went on to say: “These businesses make a massive contribution to the UK economy and to their local communities and we want make sure we help them in a sustainable and safe way.”

Keeping informed and up to date on fire safety regulations can help businesses avoid a tragedy that a fire can lead to. While the Safety Week is only a week, what participants walk away with should last through the whole year. Connecting with their local fire service is a great start to learning what support is out there and what they need to do to be compliant with risk assessments and common sense.