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Fire Risk

Protect your business from the danger of fire

As the trial of the man accused of an arson attack on the Majestik nightclub building in Leeds continues this week, we look at the risk of arson, and indeed any other kind of fire incident, that businesses face and what you can do to protect yours.

The consequences of a fire can be wide reaching. In the case of the Majestik, the building itself was empty and had been for several years. However, the hotel adjacent to the building was not and had to be evacuated so it could potentially have been a very serious situation for them. Because of the location of the building in central Leeds, very close to the train station, much of the city centre was locked down for hours; causing massive disruption. The building also sustained massive damage to its roof. As it’s a listed building the cost of renovation will be substantial. It could all have been much worse of course if the building had been occupied. Loss of life is the worst case scenario but even without that, many businesses have folded because of a fire. Insurance payments can take a long time to come through and a lack of contingency planning can put a sudden halt to trading.

All business premises need some kind of fire alarm system. The exact type will depend on the size, the layout, the nature of your business, how many people work there and the potential risk. You have an obligation for the alarm to be fit for purpose and to be properly maintained.

We advise all businesses to take the following precautions:

Conduct a risk assessment to determine what kind of alarm system your premises require. If you don’t know how to do this, a fire alarm installer would be able to do it for you

Have a system installed that is designed for your business – make sure it is fit for purpose

Choose a company with all the required accreditation to design and install a fire alarm system

Have it serviced regularly. Fire regulations require systems to be serviced at least twice a year, sometimes more depending on the type of premises and the system

Test it regularly. You should be conducting weekly alarm tests and regular fire drills

Check that fire equipment is working correctly and that staff know how to use them

Fit smoke alarms – these not only save lives but can save property too as they provide an early warning which could enable you to minimise damage

Store important documents and items in a fire and flood proof safe

Beware of fire hazards – turn off electrical equipment when not in use, store flammable materials correctly etc

Keep doors closed where possible to minimise the spread of fire, especially when unoccupied

Make sure all staff know the emergency evacuation procedure and make sure escape routes are clear at all times

Conduct end-of-day checks to ensure that these procedures are being followed

Make sure the building is secure when unoccupied. Burglar alarms and CCTV are good deterrents and can also provide early warning if someone is hanging around that shouldn’t be there

Failing to meet your obligations on fire safety could not only put lives and property at danger but could also constitute a criminal offence and invalidate your insurance cover.

For further advice call us on 0800 612 9799 (from a landline) or 0345 833 5543 (from a mobile).