By Adam Engledow, Fire Consultant
Adam provides some universal fire prevention suggestions from a British viewpoint.
Planning is a very important factor when it comes to fire safety. The more planning you do the less likely a fire is to start. It is also important to plan because once a fire starts, it is too late. One key measure is to perform a fire risk assessment. Below are some key points to consider when performing an assessment.
- How to prepare when carrying out dangerous procedures such as welding, grinding and cutting. An instance of this would be to have a clean working surface and a fire extinguisher on hand in case a spark was to cause a fire.
- Ensure the correct fire extinguishers are in the right areas, as different materials require different extinguishers. Water, for example, shouldn’t be used on an electrical fire as you risk being electrocuted.
There are also many things you can do when planning your fire safety that seem small but can really help firefighters.
- Ensure your property is clearly signed at the entrance so any emergency vehicles trying to find you can as quickly as possible.
- Find out where your nearest fire hydrant is and ensure it is easily accessible as these can sometimes get overgrown with vegetation and make them difficult to find.
- Occasionally there can be poor access to water so if you have other sources, such as a pond or pool, make sure they are available to fire fighters as they can use fire engines or portable pumps to use the water.
- Fire engines are large and are not your normal traffic. Make sure that they can get to you by cutting back trees to allow good access. Also, make sure cattle grids can support apparatus.
If you have livestock on your property it is best for you to start planning escape routes as quickly as possible because if a fire breaks out at 2:00 AM it is too late to plan evacuating your livestock.
- You should assess how your livestock can evacuate the building and always consider conditions like poor light, hard to see, noisy or hot.
- It can be particularly dangerous with animals around during a fire. You need to have a refuge where the animals can be taken and secured out of harm’s way. Herd animals like to feel safe and can sometimes return to their pen or stable. You don’t want this happening during a fire so that’s another good reason why you must have somewhere safe and secure to take them.
- Check which way your gates are hung, as they should open in the direction of travel. Although this sounds simple it can stop animals from getting trapped or bunched when evacuating a fire. It is preferable for animals to be evacuated upwind for the safest possible route.
- When performing a fire risk assessment consider what animals you have on your property and decide whether they need to be separated. Trying to move a distressed bull in the event of a fire can be highly dangerous, therefore, you should consider moving him to a secure pen to avoid having to move him in the event of a fire.
It could be highly beneficial to firefighters to have a fire information box at the entrance of your property. The box should contain an emergency action card and site plan to give firefighters valuable information on arrival to help them through the process and give them more of an advantage in saving your property.
An emergency action plan can be a laminated piece of paper describing details of your property, building layouts and any high-risk areas. This will be hugely beneficial to a fire officer, particularly if no one is at home.
Responsibility falls to you to ensure that your staff is made aware of their duties in event of a fire, although their safety is your top priority, any actions from them can help to save animals or your property.
Staff should be trained to use fire extinguishers, blankets or hoses correctly and when to let the professionals take over.
Only give less dangerous duties to youngsters like phoning the fire service and guiding them in, never let them evacuate livestock.
Ensure all staff members are aware of the evacuation plan and any refuge places.
Make sure they all know where the nearest phone is with clear address details visible to help the procedure go as smoothly as possible.
Send someone to the gate of your property so they can guide fire engines in the right direction.
Staff must be informed of all information that has been recorded during a fire risk assessment so you can be aware of areas where you may need to take extra precautions. For more information about risk assessment, visit UK Fire Safety Solutions.
Adam Engledow is a Fire Consultant with UK Fire Safety Solutions, Ltd. You may contact him directly at:
UK Fire Safety Solutions, Ltd.
Henderson Business Centre
51 Ivy Road
Norwich NR5 8BF