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Avon Fire and Rescue (AFR) hosted November’s Business Breakfast, attended by 20 local organisations. Many thanks to Jan Morris, Station Manager, and team for their hospitality.

There were some key messages for businesses:

  • £1bn is wasted each year in the UK on Unwanted Fire Signals (UWFS) or false alarms. Businesses are encouraged to understand how to prevent UWFS. Avon Fire and Rescue can offer advice via their website: http://www.avonfire.gov.uk/business-safety/reducing-false-alarms. A publication can also be downloaded from fia.uk.com.
  • National policy and guidance requires all premises with an automatic fire alarm system to have call filtering at the premises to ensure false alarms are identified PRIOR to the Fire Service being called.  This should form part of your fire risk assessment and training for Fire Wardens.
  • UK Business Safety Week highlights Business Owner’s responsibilities – details can be found at Business Safety Week – Avon Fire & Rescue Service
  • Take steps to prevent arson. Housekeeping is critical. Keep rubbish well away from buildings. Employees can be a cause and fire safety awareness should be part of initial induction and ongoing familiarisation. Zoe Joyner from Nisbets remarked that staff are not allowed to take lighters into the warehouse.
  • A business continuity programme is essential. What would you do if your business burnt down? Paul Tipping from Professional Hygiene and Paul Tallents from Day Group shared their experiences caused by accidental fire burning the business to the ground. Paul Tipping recounted that even the best planning can’t prepare you for the trauma to the business. Only 5% of businesses get back up after 2 years. Of these only 5% are still there in 5 years.
  • Businesses are responsible in law for ensuring the safety of business premises and people using them. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 lays out responsibilities which requires a risk based approach. This should be taken seriously and not treated as ‘just a tick box exercise’.
  • Many staff become complacent with fire drills and will use the exit they’re familiar with. Block main entrances in occasional drills to ensure people think about alternative escape routes.
  • Chemical storage and stock management is critical. Chemicals can also be a risk in prevention of terrorism and domestic extremism. If you have any concerns seek advice. Report all cases of vandalism and domestic extremism.

Several businesses asked if a Fire Safety Workshop could be organised for Health and Safety personnel and Fire Marshalls. Avon Fire and Rescue and SevernNet will organise something in the New Year. Let us know if this might be of interest.

The breakfast concluded with a demonstration by one of the Fire Fighting teams in extracting someone who is trapped from a car. Bram Fischer from Wessex Buses volunteered to be the trapped person. Bram “It was a valuable experience. Much noisier than I expected. Good to be reassured about what was happening throughout”.

We were also warned to ensure there are no loose objects in a vehicle e.g. a bottle of wine can have an impact of 13kg at 30 miles per hour (mph) and 31kg at 70 mph!

Kate Royston