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Businesses across county urged to review fire safety

04 September 2020

Businesses across Norfolk are being urged to make fire safety their top priority, as Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service joins Business Safety Week starting on Monday 7 September.

The Fire Service has been working hard to help the business community of Norfolk make changes to how they work due to the pandemic. But with many businesses having to respond quickly, it is reminding them of the legal and moral responsibility to ensure premises are safe from fire and everyday fire risks in the workplace. The service will be promoting advice and guidance on social media every day throughout the week using the hashtag #BusinessSafety2020.

In 2019/20 the Fire Service attended 143 accidental fires in business premises in Norfolk, highlighting the need for business owners and Responsible Persons to review Fire Risk Assessments and ensure there’s minimal risk to premises and occupants.

Since the beginning of lockdown in March this year the Fire Service has helped businesses 850 times including 179 bespoke audits, 188 building regulations consultations, and a further 191 licensing consultations. The new audits have been designed specifically for use in the pandemic period, with officers gathering information and discussing fire safety with businesses through phone and video calls.

Jonathan Wilby, Norfolk Fire and Rescue’s Group Manager for Fire Protection said: “We fully understand the challenges our business community are currently facing, so we want to emphasise that we’re here to help them recover as more places reopen.

“All business must review their fire risk assessment each year, however we’d encourage you to do this now if you have changed the way you run your business. Making any changes to staffing, blocking off aisles, and introducing one-way systems can all affect fire safety so we’d encourage you to check everything over and get in touch if you need support.”

Businesses can find out more about reviewing their fire safety by visiting the County Council website at www.norfolk.gov.uk/BusinessFireSafety

Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “Our Fire Service has worked hard throughout this pandemic and it continues to demonstrate how it’s at the heart of community protection in the county. I’d like to urge everyone to do their bit to keep our communities safe and encourage businesses to do this vital fire safety work to help us support Norfolk’s economy as we all begin to recover from Covid-19.”

Businesses must consider the potential risks that the COVID secure measures - which are required to open some premises - may in some cases, compromise fire safety measures.

  • New screens must not obstruct smoke detection
  • Business must have enough trained staff to support evacuation procedures
  • Ensure measures to support social distancing do not impact evacuation procedures or the ability of emergency service to help you
  • Protect your business from arson
  • Help your fire service by reducing false alarms - which currently accounts for about 40% of all UK emergency calls

86% of business premises that have a fire never recover, and while Norfolk does not see as much arson or deliberate fire setting in business premises as other counties, it’s still the most common cause. It’s therefore important that when business review their fire risk assessment each year they consider the potential of arson and measures that will reduce the chances of that happening.

Further guidance on arson reduction can be found on the County Council website at www.norfolk.gov.uk/BusinessFireSafety

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