Why every business needs a fire safety audit

grenfell tower

The world we live in is a dangerous place. From crime to acts of nature and all sorts of accidents, the potential for harm exists in every business environment.

This is why it is so critical for business and property owners to follow each and every regulation put in place to ensure public safety.

Specifically, in the arena of fire safety, every business in the UK should undergo a fire safety audit from time to time. We all know what happens when fire rages out of control. From the destruction of the famed Cathedral at Notre Dame to the horrible Grenfell Tower fire, it is clear to see that we cannot afford to neglect fire safety even to the slightest degree.

To make the point, this post will focus on one type of business almost all of us take for granted: the petrol station. How many of us really consider fire risks when filling up the car? Probably very few. And yet, if it were not for stringent fire safety rules put in place in years past, petrol stations would be far more dangerous than they are today.

The Fire Safety Audit Explained

Let us start by discussing what a fire safety audit is. It is an audit conducted by a trained professional who knows what to look for in terms of fire hazards and their implications. A certified fire safety audit expert can walk into any business and automatically begin identifying both strong and weak points.

In the petrol station example, an experienced auditor would know that fire safety goes well beyond installing specialised CO2 fire extinguishers for petrol stations. It extends to everything from how vehicles move around the property to safety features built into equipment to prevent fires from starting.

Fire safety obviously takes different forms in different settings. What is required to keep a petrol station safe is not necessarily required in an office setting. Likewise, some types of buildings are less prone to fire than others. The purpose of a fire safety audit is to look at each property on a case-by-case basis, specifically to identify known hazards typical to its environment.

Fire Safety at Petrol Stations

Next, let’s discuss fires safety specifically as it relates to petrol stations. The point here is to help you understand just how complex the concept of fire safety is. Creating a fire-safe environment is more than just doing a few little things here and there.

Fire safety at a petrol station involves:

  • Fuel Storage– Petrol is extremely flammable. We all know that. To prevent fire at a petrol station, property owners must follow all existing regulations pertaining to fuel storage, handling, dispensing, and environmental exposure.
  • Vehicle Movement– One of the biggest challenges petrol station owners face is controlling vehicle movement. Any collision between a vehicle and dispensing equipment could prove disastrous. Traffic must be controlled in such a way as to prevent collisions.
  • Customer Handling– Customers are expected to handle petrol safely. To help them do that, station owners post signs and warnings. It is also incumbent upon employees to pay attention so as to identify unsafe handling procedures.
  • Electricity Exposure– The most combustible component of petrol are the fumes it puts off. If those fumes come in contact with even the slightest electrical charge, a fire can start. As such, fire safety at the petrol station has to account for sources of electricity that could spark a fire.
  • Fire Suppression– In the event that a fire does occur at a petrol station, embedded fire suppression equipment should automatically engage to put it out. An audit looks at all fire suppression equipment to make sure it is both adequate and in good working order.

There are additional things to consider that space just does not permit discussing. Petrol station owners can consult the Health and Safety Executive for more information. The same goes for your non-petroleum business. Please understand that you have certain responsibilities under the law as well.

An Audit Goes a Long Way

A fire safety audit is such a small thing in terms of the time and expense involved. Yet it could pay off in a big way. Imagine an audit exposing a substantial risk you and your staff were previously unaware of. Now you can take corrective action to prevent fires. The fire safety audit has already proven itself invaluable.

A good way to close this post is to ask how your business is doing. Has your business ever undergone a fire safety audit? And if no, what is holding you back? A fire safety audit is a proactive strategy for preventing fire in the workplace. It is also a tool for deploying procedures and equipment to handle fire in the event it does occur. Every business in the UK should participate in audits on a regular basis.