Fire, the Law and Your Business

Since the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 came into being, non-domestic premises are now required to carry out a specific Risk Assessment for Fire. Most businesses have to record any significant findings from this assessment, and this document must be made available to your local Fire & Rescue Service when they visit you for an audit. Have you got yours?

As this legislation now covers all businesses, the number of premises involved has increased considerably.  As a result, the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service now audit premises on a frequency determined by a relevant risk rating.  This rating is based on the type of occupancy, the nature of the business carried out, the history of incidents at the premises and the potential for harm.  For example, premises providing sleeping accommodation are deemed to present a higher risk to life, and so are subject to more frequent audits.

You may receive visits from the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service for a number of reasons.  However, a visit to determine your compliance with the Fire (Scotland) Act will usually be carried out by a uniformed fire safety enforcement officer and is called a fire safety audit.

Advice on the legislation is available from the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service

Holding a Fire Drill

Most businesses should hold regular fire drills so that employees, and others spending time on the premises, know what to do when the fire alarm goes off.  There are a number of ways to make a drill more useful and interesting for those taking part.

  • Have a member of staff stop people leaving by the main entrance and directing them to an alternate exit.  This simulates fire putting the entrance out of action by and so raises awareness of alternate emergency routes in your premises.
  • Give feedback on performance after the drill. This can help people to think about their actions and make better decisions about evacuation the next time.
  • Carefully choose the time of the drill. You need as many people taking part as possible, but you should try not to inconvenience people for the sake of it during a drill - for example, it may be best to cancel the drill during bad weather or just before an important order is due.
  • Fire drills do not need to be a surprise, although you do not want people to pre-empt evacuation. They are carried out so people can practice evacuating, and it can be helpful if people simply know that a drill will be held on a specific day.

Considerations when choosing a contractor

When choosing a contractor to cay out any safety critical work, particularly fire safety work, always ask what third party accreditation they have.  Memberships of trade bodies should be verified by checking on the internet or by phone.

Closing Up Routine

Most serious fires happen at night when there's no-one to discover them early.  With a thorough closing up routine, this can reduce the risk of fire.

  • Secure windows and close all blinds.
  • Shut internal doors.
  • Keep emergency routes clear.
  • Isolate or switch off machinery and equipment.
  • Return hazardous materials to secure storage when not in use and at the end of the day.
  • Check that external lights are all working and any CCTV is recording correctly.
  • Set intruder alarms.
  • Lock all external doors.
  • Make sure refuse is left in proper bins and away from the building.

For more information, contact the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service. They can be reached on 0800 0731 999.