29 April 2020
The Jersey Fire and Rescue Service are reminding business and property owners to check that their fire safety arrangements are in place.
Station Commander Ryan Hall commented: “Building owners, business managers and staff are using work premises differently during the current restrictions, and whilst control measures to protect against COVID-19 are crucial, fire safety should still remain a priority. With careful consideration, it is possible to balance both hazards.
“To provide initial support and guidance and to ensure that residents, staff and premises stay safe throughout this challenging period, we have compiled basic safety advice for commercial business properties, blocks of flats and other accommodation buildings.”
- Fire Alarms: Make sure your system, Fire alarm, emergency lighting, smoke control systems and other fire safety systems are in good working order. Test them weekly to ensure this.
- Fire Doors: These doors prevent fire and smoke spreading from one compartment to another and protect escape routes. Some may decide to wedge these doors open to minimise the risk of contamination from touching too much, however, we advise against this practice.
- Buildings not in use: If your building is temporarily closed, make sure you isolate utilities and machinery that are not required (except fire alarms), close all fire doors and don’t store combustible materials against the building.
- Evacuation Plans: Even with most staff at home, those who are not must be familiar with your evacuation plan. Where appropriate, Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS) must continue to be conducted and reviewed.
- Escape Routes: Ensure that common areas and escape routes are clear of combustible materials and anything that could block or hinder access.
- Refuse Areas: Ensure refuse compounds and other storage areas are not overflowing and are not stored immediately next to buildings – a minimum distance of 6m should be maintained where possible.
- Vulnerable People: Are the most vulnerable people receiving support? Are PEEPS being conducted and reviewed to assess individual needs? Who is caring for the vulnerable and can they still manage it?
- Interim Measures: If you have had to implement some temporary measures do all your staff or residents know and understand why and what they are?
Fire Alarm Activation and Emergency ProceduresYou may wish to adopt the following procedures to maintain fire safety, reduce disruption and minimise the need for firefighters to enter your building, when you may be trying to protect the occupants from potential exposure to COVID-19:
- If the fire alarm activates, commence your normal emergency procedures.
- Suitably trained staff should investigate the source of the alarm and establish if it is false alarm.
- If, at any point during the investigation a fire is discovered or there is a smell of burning or smoke that cannot be accounted for, dial 999 and ask for the fire service immediately – stating that an evacuation is in progress.
- If, following the investigation, you are certain that there is no fire, and no suspicion of a fire, then the emergency procedures can be cancelled. Under these circumstances, do not call the fire service.
- The fire alarm system should be re-set by a competent member of staff and the fire alarm log book updated with a record of the event
- If the cause of the alarm has not been identified then the alarm should only be silenced, not switched off, and an engineer should be summoned immediately.
- Please ensure that any known problems causing false fire alarms are immediately corrected, so that when fire alarms do occur, there is a high degree of confidence that they are genuine.