Fire safety is anconcern that should be high on the agenda of any business, large or small. Most organizations would benefit from expert assistance in this area so if you are concerned about fire safety Kent is an area where firms providing thisimportant service can be easily found.
What are thefundamental principles of fire, how does it spread and how should I minimise the risk of fire in line with legal obligations?
Fire results from combustion, i.e. the process by which oxygen combines with some form of fuel in the presence of heat or a source of ignition. Frequently described as the FIRE TRIANGLE, it follows that if any of these essential components is absent, fire cannot exist.
If it is already present it will therefore be extinguished and if not present, it cannot start. In their simplest form, fire precautions therefore are focussed on the requirement toreduce orremove one or more of these components.
Fires are described according to fuel types into five classes: Classes A, B, C, D and F and thetype of extinguisherneeded to control any fire depends on the class of fire present or predicted.
Fire spreads by four methods:
- convection – hot air rising and moving through air;
- conduction – heat transferring along conductors such as metal pipes;
- radiation – the spread of heat through air without direct contact;
- direct burning – contact and heat transfer between substances.
Alarmingly, around one third of fires in the UK result from arson and over 70% of businessesgo under as a direct consequence of a major fire.
THE REGULATORY REFORM (FIRE SAFETY) ORDER
Thiscritical legislationidentifies the need to undertake a fire risk assessment – ‘An organised and methodical look at your premises, the activities carried out there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premises’.
To find out more about this important legislation on fire safety Kent is a location where many well qualified specialists can be found.
The RRFSO specifies a ‘Responsible Person’, the identification of who will vary depending on site-specific circumstances, but who isrequired to ensure safe arrangements for fire risk assessment, control measures and emergency procedures. There may be one or more Responsible Person, but if more than one (e.g. on shared premises) each must co-operate with the others as far as is needed to ensure ‘Compliance’.
The RRFSO also identifies a ‘Relevant Person’ i.e. anyone who may be lawfully on the premises, or nearby, or who may be at risk in the event of fire. The risk assessment should include a plan of the site, indicating principle ignition sources, electrical appliances, heating plant, location of hazardous processes, waste disposal areas, electrical mains switches, gas control valves and fire extinguishers.
In summary, fire does represent a substantial risk to allcompanies and an awareness of the risks involved iscrucial.
Taking the proper measures to protect your business against fire risks may be one of the best investments you make – don’t wait until it’s to late!