General fire safety precautions
A fire needs heat, oxygen and fuel. If any of these components is missing, then a fire cannot start. If none of these components can be removed, then it's important to appropriately manage the risk to reduce the likelihood of fire or to limit fire growth and spread.
At its simplest, this means separating combustible items and flammable substances from potential ignition sources, reducing held volumes of any non-essential combustible materials, and ensuring that equipment and installations within the building are appropriately used and maintained.
Appropriate practices to reduce the likelihood of fire should include but are not limited to:
Housekeeping and storage
- Avoid storing combustible materials within IT server rooms, boiler rooms, kitchens, mains electrical cupboards or electrical sub-switch rooms
- Avoid storing combustible materials close to or in direct contact with appliances/equipment that give off significant heat and that require ventilation, cooking appliances or naked flames such candles
- Reduce the volume of held combustible materials throughout the building and ensure unwanted items and other waste is removed regularly
- Avoid storing items and combustible materials along main escape routes, stairwells and near fire exits
- Avoid large, unbroken runs of paper or textile displays along escape route corridors, escape stairs and adjacent to fire exit doors.
- Any chemicals, dangerous substances, materials, and equipment must be evaluated and stored appropriately
- All equipment used within congregational properties must be used as per manufacturers' instructions
- Suitable arrangements and precautions must be in place to ensure the safe management of building, alteration and remedial work
Deliberate or wilful fire setting (Arson)
- Premises should be secured against unauthorised access during and out with working hours
- External waste or recycling bins should be secured by locking the lids or chaining them in place or should be located away from the premises if necessary (this may be particularly relevant where a premise has a history of vandalism or fire setting)
- Use any provided CCTV and external/internal lighting.
- Regularly maintain fixed and portable electrical equipment/systems
- Ensure provided equipment is appropriately used. Signs and instructions on the safe use of equipment may be necessary.
- Have procedures in place for reporting faulty equipment and ensure any faulty equipment is taken out of use
- Isolate non-essential equipment where it is not in use for long periods, i.e. overnights, weekends and holiday periods
- Ensure plug sockets and extension leads are not overloaded. Avoid any load totalling more than 13 Amps per socket or extension lead.
- Enforce a no smoking policy within premises. Use signs at key focal points if necessary.
- Define areas where smoking is permitted out with the building and provide means for extinguishing smoking materials, i.e. ashtrays, sand buckets
Hot works, heat-generating equipment, cooking, dangerous substances
- Heat-generating activities such as welding, soldering and grinding should be strictly controlled and subject to risk assessment or permit to work. Suitable means for fighting fire, such as portable fire extinguishers, should also be provided
- Establish designated areas for cooking and supervise all activities
- Ensure any air extraction filters and ducting are appropriately maintained and cleaned
- Substances labelled explosive, oxidising, flammable or any dust which can form an explosive mixture with air or an explosive atmosphere should be appropriately risk assessed and suitably stored in limited volumes and control measures should be implemented to eliminate or to reduce the risks of fire or explosion.