It is essential that additional precautions are taken to protect both human life and your property in dangerous situations such as these. Each site is different and your own local knowledge will help to define the risk assessment for occupation of your premises without a working fire alarm.
These are the things you need to consider when using a building while the fire alarm is not working:
- What suitable methods of detecting a fire and raising the alarm can be implemented?
- In the event of a fire being discovered, how effective will your evacuation procedures be?
- Consider the buildings use and the activities carried out within it. Examples are:
- Use of naked flames
- Activities involving chemical reactions
- Noisy activities which could prevent building users being aware of the need to evacuate
- The people at risk in the building. This includes staff, visitors and contractors
- You should know how to cover any lone working staff
- Individual's capabilities; for example, those with disabilities
- Any other local or site specific risks.
To make a building safe while the fire alarm is out of service, the following measures may need to be taken:
- Fire searches of the affected area at an appropriate frequency throughout the duration of the fire alarm failure, covering the whole of the affected area, but in particular unoccupied areas and higher risk areas:
- More than one search team may be required depending on the size/complexity of the building and length of time taken to complete a search
- Cover may need to be provided for individuals involved in the search to take rest breaks
- Use your security team to provide assistance out of hours
- Search teams must be equipped with a suitable means of raising the alarm or attracting people's attention, such as whistles, bells, 2-way radios, klaxons or air horns
- Individuals carrying out the inspections should be trained in the use of fire extinguishers
- Remember that keys may be needed to gain entry to some areas or rooms.
- Make the building's users aware of the issues and temporary procedures. This will include providing information on what to do if a fire is discovered, how to raise the alarm and the restrictions that are in place. This may include displaying warning notices around the building.
- Suspend non-essential activities likely to lead to a fire developing until the alarm system is restored. Examples of this could be to suspend the use of naked flames or experiments that may lead to a fire starting. If it is absolutely essential that an activity takes place which could lead to a fire, guidance should be obtained from health and safety services. Each hazardous activity must be individually risk assessed and only allowed to continue if suitable additional controls are in place.
- Restrict visitor access to absolutely essential visitors only and be sure they are forewarned of the additional risks.
- Lone working, especially out of hours or overnight, must be reviewed and only permitted if absolutely necessary and if suitable control measures are put in place.
- All non-essential electrical items should be turned off when not in use.
Should there be a fire alarm failure at your premises, then the most important thing is not to panic. Call your alarm maintenance company and ask for them to attend your premises as soon as possible.
"Always ensure your fire safety procedures are up to standard at all times!"
If you're at all worried about what to do in the event of a fire alarm failure then do give me a call on 0845 287 3622 or click here to send me an email enquiry and let's arrange for us to visit and see how Picaw can help you.