Fire Safety FAQs

Advice and guidance around effective fire safety management in the workplace

Who is responsible for fire safety at work?

The legal position is that it is primarily the Duty Holder or the Responsible Person, which in a workplace is the employer. For premises that are not workplaces it will be the person who has control of the premises as occupier or otherwise or the owner is responsible for fire safety.

It might mean that depending on the extent of control by the afore mentioned parties there will need to be coordination and cooperation to ensure that the requirements of the legislation are met. Once responsibility is established a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions required to comply with the legislation.

Who should carry out fire risk assessments?

The ‘Responsible Person’ should ensure fire risk assessments are undertaken and reviewed by someone that is competent.

What are the ways fire can spread?

Fire can spread in three primary ways:

  • Convection – most common causes of fire spreading in commercial buildings. This is when heat is trapped by the ceiling as the heat rises, and as it can’t escape it spreads in all directions.
  • Conduction – the spread of fire by the transmission of heat through materials. Some materials are better conductors of heat, such as metals.
  • Radiation – transfers heat via electromagnetic waves in the air.

What do I do if I discover a fire?

You should have a plan in place that tells employees what they must do if they discover a fire. It should outline what warning systems are in place, evacuation procedures and routes, and the fire assembly point/s.

What are the types of fire extinguishers?

There are five common types of fire extinguishers:

  • Water – red.
  • Dry powder – red body with a blue band.
  • Foam – red body with a cream band.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – red body with a black band
  • Wet chemical – red body with a yellow band.

Each type can be identified by the text and colours of the label, and in some cases by their hoses.

Although not a “fire extinguisher”, fire blankets can be used to extinguish fires.

What training should I provide my staff in regards to fire?

It is a legal requirement to provide employees with suitable and sufficient information, instruction, supervision and training in regards to the appropriate fire safety precautions and actions to be taken by the employee in order to safegaurd themselves and others.

How often should we undertake fire drills?

How often fire drills should be undertaken is dependent on the type, complexity and occupancy of the premises. Typically an evacuation will need to be undertaken at least once a year.

How should I tell people where our fire assembly points are?

Assembly points should be clearly signposted, and recorded on fire action notices that are prominently displayed either by the fire alarm call points or strategically located in the building. During employee induction and ongoing training, evacuation procedures and assembly points should be highlighted.