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Fire safety reminder for Norfolk’s businesses as they recover from Covid-19 pandemic

03 September 2021

Norfolk business owners are being urged not to overlook safety and reminded that help is available to support them in reducing the risk of fire.

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service is backing Business Safety Week from 6-12 September, run by the National Fire Chiefs Council. The week aims to offer support and advice and make businesses aware of their fire safety responsibilities, so they comply with legislation to keep both premises and occupants safe from fire.

“We know businesses have had a tough time and have had to adapt how they operate, due to Covid-19. Our fire service has issued ongoing guidance as the situation has evolved and our community protection staff are available to offer advice and support to help reduce the risk of fires,” said Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council.

High-risk visits were still carried out across Norfolk during the pandemic, with routine help and support switched to phone and online for many businesses. The fire service continued to enforce legislation and take action against safety breaches.  

In 2020/21, the fire service carried out 370 fire safety audits, of which 40 were unsatisfactory. (For comparison, in 2019/20 815 audits were carried out, with 191 premises found to be unsatisfactory). Many businesses had been closed and were not operating for parts of the 2020/21 year. In addition to the above, the service has worked with hundreds of other businesses to offer fire safety advice and support in the last year. 

Many businesses had to close their doors or change their ways of working due to the pandemic. But as they have now reopened business owners and Responsible Persons must review Fire Risk Assessments to reflect any changes they have made in response to the pandemic in the workplace. It's important that steps are taken to ensure staff are suitably trained, fire equipment is checked and maintained     and any covid secure measures do not compromise fire safety.

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service can provide free help, advice and guidance to help and to minimise the risk of fire in the workplace. You find more at Safety in your business - Norfolk County Council. The advice is available throughout the year, but the campaign week of action is encouraging people not to delay reviewing fire safety.

Advice is also available to businesses on reducing the risk of arson by taking simple steps to protect premises. There were more than 4,700 deliberate fires in businesses in the UK in 2019-20 and most attacks are unplanned and opportunist crimes.

Fire services can also provide help in reducing false alarms in the workplace which often have an impact on business productivity. With around 44 per cent of fire service call outs in the UK being as a result of false alarms they increase pressure on fire service resources and time, both of which could be spent on dealing with genuine emergencies and community prevention and protection activities.

Norfolk’s Chief Fire Officer Stuart Ruff said: “Fire can have a devastating impact on businesses, some of which never recover. Advice and guidance helps to reduce the risk of fire and keep Norfolk businesses, their staff and the public safe.”

“Fire alarms should be professionally serviced twice a year to ensure they are working and there are steps businesses can take to reduce the risk of fire starting.”

Visit the website for fire safety advice and guidance.

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