Factories and Warehouses
Fire Safety in new and altered Factories and Warehouses are subject to the Building Regulations and the guidance for fire matters can be found on my page on Fire Safety in New, Extended or Altered Buildings.
When premises are occupied fire precautions are controlled by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and this order lays down legal requirements, check them out at the above link.
Fire Safety Guide for England and Wales
The most appropriate guide for Factories and Warehouses is likely to be Guide 2 – Factories and warehouses and can be downloaded at the Department of Communities and Local Government web site. This guidance gives advice on how to avoid fires and how to ensure peoples safety if a fire does start. It only applies to England and Wales and it does not set prescriptive standards, but provides recommendations and guidance for use when assessing the adequacy of fire precautions in Factories and Warehouses. Other fire risk assessment methods may be equally valid to comply with fire safety law.
This guide is for all employers, managers, occupiers and owners of Factories and Warehouses. It tells you about how you might comply with fire safety law, helps you to carry out a fire risk assessment and identify the general fire precautions you need to have in place. This guide is intended for premises where the main use of the building or part of the building is a Factory or Warehouses. It may also be suitable where the premises adjoin other complexes, although co-operation with other managers will be necessary as part of an integrated risk assessment for the complex. Also, where you handle and store flammable materials and substances, it will help you take account of these in your risk assessment and help you determine the necessary precautions to take to minimise the likelihood of them being involved in a fire. It has been written to provide guidance for a responsible person, to help them to carry out a fire risk assessment in less complex factories and warehouses.
Factories are considered, in most cases, to be a high fire risk. Fires usually occur as the result of an unforseen problem with the process or due to somebodies carelessness. The level of risk varies depending on the process being carry out and number of occupants also the times the premises are occupied.
The six principle risk are,
- Processes using flammable substances or machinery developing faults causing a fire. Many times it is a pure accident but often it is the lack of maintenance, operators error or unauthorized repairs which results in an accident which causes a fire. Training and strict procedures will eradicate many possible fires and lower the risk of fire.
- Carelessly discarded smoking materials especially if it is allowed to come into contact with flammable items and in many factories there are highly flammable processes which give greater concern. A lighted cigarette end could take a long time to ignite any item, at which time the premise could be unoccupied. Use signs and constantly broadcast the dangers to the staff. A no smoking policy should be adopted throughout the premises ,with designated smoking areas for staff and as a result these areas can be supervised closely.
- Electrical Apparatus can be a source of fire if they have been subjected to misuse and occasionally, electrical faults can occur on apparatus, usually because they have not been serviced regularly. All electrical equipment should be tested annually and keep the staff informed of the possible dangers associated with the different types of equipment.
- Kitchenettes or tea rooms can be a risk depending on what equipment has been provided and especially if food that is cooking is left unattended. Full dining facilities and kitchens are a high risk but this is lessened by having fully trained staff in attendance at all times.
- A higher fire risk are store rooms and warehouses because a large quantity of flammable goods may stored with limited supervision. House keeping and ensuring the storerooms are keep as tidy as possible will reduce the risk, this also applies to the premises as a whole. An added danger in warehouse are they are usually large undivided areas and if fire starts it will spread uncontrolled unless fixed installations are installed. Also ensure the dangers are discussed at all training sessions.
- Tradesmen on the premises, especially those that use apparatus that is capable of starting a fire, like blow lamps, gas torches, metal angle cutters, etc. One needs to ensure a high degree of supervision with suitable fire fighting equipment available during and after their presence. Give the area they have been working in a through inspection and make sure no hot spots or small fires have been missed.
During training sessions as well as detailing and practicing fire procedures some time should be devoted to emphasising simple fire precautions in an attempt to stop fires happening. Not only is fire training in most premises required under law it also makes sense,half an hour spent before the fire can save lives it may prevent the fire in the first place..
Fire Risk management
Commissioning a fire safety risk management survey aswell as those required by the above legislation will help to reduce any consequential fire losses should a fire occur. A simple thing like dividing your stock into two fire separated warehouses would mean if a fire should happen you will have 50% of your stock to carry on trading . Or producing duplicate copies of your records and storing them in separate building away from your offices. Many times consequential fire losses are not considered and can be the cause of companies being forced in to bankruptcy
Arson is the single most common cause of fire in business premises and 45% of all serious fires are a result of arson. Much of this is not targeted and the vast majority of arson attacks are down to opportunist vandalism. Apart from the need to comply with the law the Responsible Person has a duty to himself and his business to reduce this risk to as low as reasonable possible.