A Guide to Fire Safety in Offices

Who is responsible for fire safety in my office?

If you are the owner, landlord, employer or occupier of a business premises, including offices, you are responsible for fire safety under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and are known as the ‘responsible person’.  As the responsible person in your office, you must ensure that you:

  • Carry out a fire risk assessment and review it regularly
  • Identify risks from the fire risk assessment and put measures in place to reduce or manage them
  • Inform staff of the risks and of their responsibilities to ensure good fire safety is achieved
  • Ensure adequate fire safety measures have been put in place and maintain them
  • Have an appropriate fire safety procedure and communicate this to staff and visitors
  • Provide training to staff to ensure they know what to do in the event of a fire

What is a fire risk assessment?

A comprehensive fire risk assessment taking place

A fire risk assessment is a detailed review of your office space to identify fire risks and provide recommendations to either mitigate, reduce or manage them. A fire risk assessment can be carried out by a competent person or a professional.

You can use our free fire risk assessment form to carry out your own assessment if you feel you have the required skills and knowledge to do so. It is essential that you use this in conjunction with the appropriate official fire risk assessment guide for offices.

Alternatively, you can request that a trained fire risk assessor completes your office fire risk assessment for you. You will receive a comprehensive fire risk assessment and detailed guidance should any recommendations for improvement be required.

What kind of fire safety measures will I be required to put in place?

To ensure that you are meeting all your legal obligations you will need to look at the following areas:

  • Are your emergency evacuation routes and exits clear from hazards and well signposted?
  • Do you have adequate means to detect a fire and warn others?
  • Do you have appropriate fire fighting equipment and is it in the right place?
  • Are any dangerous substances stored correctly?
  • Think about the people who are in your office (both staff and visitors), particularly those with special considerations such as the elderly and people with disabilities
  • Provide fire safety information and training

Emergency evacuation routes and exits

Photoluminescent fire escape route signs

Staff escaping a building must be visually directed to the safest and usually quickest route leading to the nearest fire exit. Ensure that photo-luminescent (glow in the dark) fire escape route signs are indicating the nearest exit and are clearly visible.

You need to ensure that even if the mains power fails, all escape route signs are visible and that stairs and uneven floors are lit sufficiently to escape safely. You can achieve this by installing emergency lights or by installing illuminated fire exit signs in the first place.

Evacuation and fire drills

Every member of staff must be made aware of where the nearest fire exits are and which routes to take when exiting the building. The best way of ensuring that all staff know the escape routes is to ensure that when a new staff member starts you complete a ‘fire walk’. This enables you to show staff all the fire escape routes and  where fire fighting equipment is located.

You should carry out regular fire drills, ensuring that you also include practising taking alternative routes if your nearest fire escape should be blocked by a fire.

When planning your evacuation procedure ensure that you also include how you would safely evacuate someone with reduced mobility. Evacuation chairs offer a safe and easy solution to ensure that everyone can escape safely in the event of a fire. You should ensure that staff are trained to use equipment and also that the evacuation equipment is maintained and serviced. 

Fire extinguishers and maintenance

Choosing the right type of extinguisher

Portable fire extinguishers can be very valuable in preventing small fires getting out of hand and turning into large fires that can put lives at risk and destroy buildings. The safety of your staff and visitors should be the main priority and staff should only be encouraged to use a portable fire extinguisher if they have been trained and as long as it does not put them in any danger.

Dry water mist fire extinguishers can be used on live electrical fires

It is paramount that you have the correct type of fire extinguisher to tackle the type of fire that could occur in your office. Installing extinguishers that can tackle more than one type of fire, such as the dry water mist fire extinguisher, will reduce the number of different types required in your office and will also reduce the risk of using the wrong type. Dry water mist extinguishers can be used on class A, B and C fires as well as on live electrical fires.

You can read our following help guides for more information:

If you are still unsure of which type of fire extinguisher you need in your office you can book a fire extinguisher site survey.

Installing extinguishers

Ensure that your extinguishers are commissioned and installed by a service engineer at your premises. You will need the correct signage and to ensure that they are hung in the correct location.

Extinguisher maintenance

Once your extinguishers have been installed you are responsible to ensure that a monthly visual check is carried out, looking for the following:

  • Are there any signs of damage to the exterior?
  • Are there any blockages in the hose?
  • Are there any signs the extinguisher has been tampered with?
  • Is the extinguisher pressurised?

You must also ensure that an annual service of the extinguisher has been carried out by a trained engineer and in accordance with the British Standards.

Please note that where self-maintenance extinguishers are installed, a yearly visual inspection by your staff is required, which must be documented in your fire safety log book but no annual visit is required by an external engineer.

Fire alarms and manual call points

As the responsible person you will need to ensure that there is an adequate fire detection system in your offices. A common way to achieve this is to install fire alarms. The size, configuration and use of your office will define what sort of fire alarm system you require.

Make sure that all employees understand that the first thing to do if they discover a fire is to press the nearest manual call point (also called manual break points). This alerts all of your staff of the fire. New staff must be shown the call points during their induction period.

Where office buildings are shared with other companies, make sure that a system is in place for notifying all the companies in the building in the event of a fire.

Fire safety log book

It is essential that you keep a record of all your fire safety checks and fire drills in a fire safety logbook.

We offer a free online log book with custom reminders and the ability to print it if you wish to keep a hard copy. Keeping an online logbook will ensure that it is protected in the event of a fire so that you can show your due diligence and compliance.

Free online fire safety logbook from Safelincs
Our free online fire safety logbook

Lighting the Way – What You Need to Know About Emergency Lighting

Why is emergency lighting necessary?

Eden Bulkhead Emergency Lighting
LED Emergency Lighting Bulkhead – Eden

As the responsible person it is your legal obligation to ensure that adequate emergency lighting is installed across all the escape routes and exits from every area of the building with a minimum backup duration of between 1 and 3 hours. Emergency lighting is essential to light escapes routes for emergency evacuations when normal mains-powered lighting fails.

There are different types of emergency lights, some function as a normal light and others function only as an emergency light source. As a     starting point you should know what type of emergency light you want to install for example; do you want a maintained emergency light (stays on constantly) or a non-maintained emergency light (illuminates only in the event of a mains power failure)?

Your emergency lighting requirements

Jalite photoluminescent fire exit signs
Jalite photoluminescent fire exit signs

When deciding where to install emergency lights, take into account any hazards that there may be along the evacuation route, such as corners, stairways or uneven flooring. You must also ensure that fire alarm call points and equipment used for firefighting, such as extinguishers or fire blankets, are adequately illuminated to be easily seen or located. Some areas will require continued operation (e.g. a chemical processing room, operation theatre etc); higher continued lighting requirements must be considered in these areas. A sub-category of emergency lighting are fire exit signs, which are green ‘running man’ signs with arrows that guide people towards the nearest exits. These are either internally lit in the same fashion as space emergency lighting or, in case sufficient other emergency lights are available, they can be photoluminescent. Such ‘glow-in-the-dark signs store energy from either natural or artificial light and releases this stored energy when the light source is no longer there, emitting a yellow/green glow to illuminate the text on the sign.

You should refer to your fire risk assessment to ensure that you have covered all the essential fire escape routes and addressed any hazards on your site that were highlighted in this assessment. It is a legal requirement to carry out a fire risk assessment and you should refresh this assessment if the activities within your premises change or if significant changes to the layout are made. You can find authoritative guidance in the government's fire risk assessment guides.

Testing and maintenance

As with all fire safety equipment, regular testing of your emergency lights must be carried out to ensure that it is working correctly. You should test that the lights are triggered when the mains supply is cut, and also that all the lights are illuminated as they should be. This can be done with the use of a fish key. You will need to test your lighting once a month and ensure that a full discharge test is carried once a year. Log the results as any other fire safety equipment tests in your fire safety logbook.

If you would like to know more about emergency lighting our emergency lighting guides can provide you with useful information.

Buy emergency lights

Visit our emergency lights and signs section to view our full range of emergency lighting products.

Safelincs’ Coronavirus Statement

As a responsible company Safelincs is monitoring the situation closely. Within the supply chain we are taking steps to ensure that our main product lines and services are still available. Where appropriate, alternative suppliers are being sourced and integrated into Safelincs’ supply chain. Our commitment to providing excellent customer service and the supply of critical safety products and services is at the forefront of our business.

Safelincs is also proactively implementing special measures and acting in line with government guidance and best practice to ensure the well-being of our employees and those we interact with.

Emergency Slave Lights – Explored

Slave Emergency LightingIf you’re looking for a replacement slave emergency luminaire for your centrally-powered emergency lighting system, then unless you are an expert, there is a fair chance that you have some questions in mind. Luckily for you, we have just the resource you need!

Our recently published article – Emergency Lighting Slave Units – aims to fully explain the concept of slave lighting and central battery systems, whilst also answering a broad range of questions that we have encountered over the years from our customers.
The article also explains the differences between slave lights and standard self-contained emergency lighting luminaires in plain language, and explores the pros and cons for each option.

If you want to know more about slave emergency lights or systems, then this is the article for you. A wide variety of questions are tackled, all with the intention of giving you the information you need to make knowledgeable decisions about slave lights.

Safelincs’ partnership with UK based lighting specialists Orbik has enabled us to greatly expand the range of high quality emergency lighting options we offer. This selection includes both standard (self-contained) emergency light fittings as well as the often misunderstood slave luminaires that form the focus of our new article. Regardless of which system you require, Safelincs’ website is the resource you need both for information and for replacement parts or entirely new emergency lighting systems.

For further general information regarding emergency lights, please click here. If you have a specific question that is not covered, or require a quotation for an entire emergency lighting system, please contact our friendly customer service team via support@safelincs.co.uk.

Related articles:

P50s find their way into a country retreat

An eighteenth century listed building, with an interesting history and visitors that have included Jacqueline Kennedy and Noel Coward, is the latest in a long line of establishments to take advantage of the cost savings that accrue from the installation of P50 fire extinguishers.

Turville Grange, near Henley in Oxfordshire, is the country retreat of an influential American family. The estate covers several sites including a large regency style house and is used by the family as a residence for around six months of the year. It is looked after by seven full time staff.

Buildings of this nature have high running costs and every effort is made to reduce expenses. One of the costs is fire safety; fire extinguishers are spread across the property and, over and above the initial outlay, the cost of having them serviced annually was a drain on the maintenance budget. Through a chance acquaintance, Safelincs was recommended as a company that might be able to offer a more economical solution.

Safelincs introduced the management at Turville Grange to the P50 extinguisher. Manufactured entirely from materials that will not rust or corrode, these appliances do not require an external annual service; a simple yearly check easily undertaken by one of the building’s own employees is all that is required. They also do not require a refill after five years like traditional extinguishers. Instead, after ten years, they are factory-refurbished and can then be used for a further decade.

“Installing P50 appliances will save us hundreds of pounds in maintenance costs,” said Adam Brimley, who manages the estate. “In addition, Safelincs gave us invaluable advice on the placement of the extinguishers that enabled us to significantly reduce the numbers that are required.

“Safelincs were clearly more interested in giving us good service than selling us more extinguishers than we needed.”

If you want to benefit from the cost savings the P50 extinguishers offer, contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk, our professional advisers are happy to help.

Nest Product Generations – How to Identify Your Products

It is well known that electronic technology advances very quickly, with products being outdated and replaced by a newer version every year. More and more frequently these subsequent versions of the same product are being called ‘generations,’ such as a ‘5th gen iPod.’ Nest Labs’ range of ‘smart home’ products is no exception to this trend and the oldest two have already undergone a few iterations of redesign and improvement.

This guide has been written to help you quickly and easily identify which generation your Nest Products belong to.

Nest Protect

1st Generation 2nd Generation
Edges Straight Edges
Nest Protect 1st Generation Edges
Rounded Edges
Nest Protect 2nd Generation Edges
Backplate Square
Nest Protect 1st Generation Backplate
Circular
Nest Protect 2nd Generation Backplate
Battery Door No Battery Door
Nest Protect 1st Generation Battery Door
Battery Door
Nest Protect 2nd Generation Battery Door
Serial Number 05A or 05C
Nest Protect 1st Generation Serial Number
06A or 06C
Nest Protect 2nd Generation Serial Number

Model Number

Open the Nest app on your phone and tap Protect at the bottom, tap the Settings gear at the top followed by the alarm you’re interested in, and then go to Technical Info. If it says your model is Topaz-1.x then you have a First Generation, while Topaz-2.x denotes the Second Generation alarm.

Nest Learning Thermostat

2nd Generation 3rd Generation
Colours Stainless Steel Stainless Steel, Copper, Black, White
Appearance Nest Thermostat 2nd Generation Appearance Nest Thermostat 3rd Generation Appearance
  • 7cm screen diameter
  • 320 320px resolution
  • 8.25cm screen diameter
  • 480 x 480px screen
Base Nest Thermostat 2nd Generation Base Nest Thermostat 3rd Generation Base
  • Yellow spirit level
  • Rectangular Display connector
  • Blue spirit level
  • Oval display connector
Heat Link Nest Thermostat 2nd Generation Heat Link Nest Thermostat 3rd Generation Heat Link
  • One status light
  • 10cm height and width
  • 3 status lights
  • 11cm height and width

Nest Cam

Indoor Outdoor
Colour Black White
Appearance Nest Thermostat 2nd Generation Appearance Nest Thermostat 3rd Generation Appearance
Differentiating
Features
  • Securely stream 1080p video to your phone, tablet or laptop
  • Various positioning options
  • No installation – simply plug into power and set up via phone app
  • Compatible with standard camera mounts and tripods
  • Weatherproof camera nad cables
  • Magnetic mount with metal plate for wall attachment
  • Night vision
  • Clear 24/7 video with 130 degree viewing angle

Smoke alarms suitable for children

Sleeping Child Researchers at Dundee University have worked hard to develop a smoke alarm with a low pitch alarm sound and a voice message that helps to wake up children if there is a fire at night. The most successful alarm version, the researchers found, was a combined low pitch sound followed by a female voice saying ‘Wake up, the house is on fire’. A laudable project and the fruit of it will hopefully help families in the future to improve the safety of their children.

While we are greeting this development as an important break-through, we analysed the issue at hand a bit further.

Having early notification of a fire is only one element to ensure you and your children have the best chance of surviving a house fire. Teaching your children, including very young ones, what to do on hearing the alarm will prevent them from panicking and from walking out of their bedroom into a potentially dangerous situation.

You may decide that the best route of action is for your child to stay in their bedrooms and to wait for you there or for them to make their way to your room ready to evacuate. No matter what your course of action, it is imperative that children have been given clear instructions and that the fire drill is practiced.

It is essential that both parents and children get notified of a fire immediately. The best way to achieve this is to have the smoke alarms interlinked throughout the house. So, if a smoke alarm is triggered in a child’s bedroom or anywhere else in the house, the alarm would not only be raised in the bedroom of the child but also in the parents’ bedroom. Interlinking gives the maximum warning time to the parents even if, for example, a fire starts in the downstairs kitchen. This is crucial when every second counts.

Interlinking can be achieved in a traditional way with wires spanning from alarm to alarm, however, easier options are now available with battery powered radio-interlinked smoke alarms being a simple-to-install solution.

Whilst we wait for this new smoke alarm to progress through the developmental stages we should make sure that our own current fire safety precautions and evacuation plans are reviewed and where possible improved upon.

For further advice about fire safety in the home you can visit our fire prevention page.

What are deed boxes

We all own documents that we either cannot afford to lose, such as passports, marriage certificates, insurance documents and bank documents or that we just cannot bear to lose because of their sentimental value to us, such as important personal letters. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to lose one of these items will be well aware of the inconvenience, chaos and upset this can cause.

You would not dream of exposing your valuables to theft by leaving them unattended on a window ledge. By the same logic, surely you would not willingly leave your most important documents exposed to fire or water damage either, would you?

Having read this far, you might already have begun creating a mental shortlist of the items you would choose to protect. Now imagine losing them all – at the same time. It is a scary prospect, or at least it would be were there not such a simple and cost effective means of avoiding this potential nightmare: deed boxes.

Deed boxes are designed to take valuable documents and protect them against fire damage and water ingress. Interestingly, the name ‘deed box’ persists despite the deeds of a house, the most important deeds most of us will come across in our lives, are these days usually stored by our solicitors on our behalf.

Safelincs offers a specifically designed Fire and Waterproof Deed Box which protects documents as the ones mentioned above. Suitable for A4 documents and with an internal cubic capacity of 5.4 litres, there is even ample space to store multiple CDs, DVDs or USB devices alongside your paperwork should you wish to. This protects your digital information from fire and water damage as well.
Fire and Waterproof Deed Box

 

This deed box offers all of the standard features experts agree you should look for when choosing a quality box. It can be secured by a key lock (two keys supplied) and is UL certified to protect your valuables from fire for a minimum of 30 minutes. It also protects its contents from water submersion for up to 8 hours, and is supplied with an outstanding 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.

So who is this deed box made for? The answer is anyone that values peace of mind. You’ve read the evidence and understand what is at stake. Buy your deed box right now and take advantage of our free next day delivery service. From the moment you close the lid after placing your most cherished possessions inside, you will be able to enjoy the peace of mind that a quality deed box can provide.

For further information regarding this product, please visit our website or e-mail our friendly customer service team via support@safelincs.co.uk. You can also ring us on 0800 612 6537

Compact ladder provides ideal maintenance solution

Saffold Fold-Out Access LadderWhen a leading Scottish construction company required a discreet foldable ladder to allow access for maintenance to the attic areas of some care homes it was building, it chose the Saffold ladder from Safelincs.

City Building (Glasgow) LLP is a highly successful and evolving business which has recently been recognised as one of the top 90 businesses in Scotland for employment and diversity. One of its recent projects was the construction of a complex of eight care homes. Each had an attic area that required a compact and unobtrusive ladder to enable access for tasks such as service and maintenance.

The company chose the unique Saffold access ladder from Safelincs following a competitive procurement process. With a slim profile and sturdy construction this foldable ladder, which is used alternatively as escape or access ladder, provided the perfect solution. When the Saffold ladder is not in use, the anti-slip rungs are concealed within its own low profile. The closed ladder is only 74mm deep and has an appearance much like that of a drainpipe or cable trunking, enabling it to be inconspicuous.

The Saffold access ladder can be released from either the top or bottom by removing an anti-tamper pin or using an optional key lock. The ladder opens out away from the wall with the rungs rotating into place as the rail extends to form a sturdy, fixed access ladder. There is also an option for a pull-out handle, which allows users to access the Saffold ladder from above, maintaining their safety before and during descent.

Although the Saffold ladder was originally designed for outdoor use, it is ideal for indoor application where its anodised aluminium finish looks unobtrusive and elegant. It provided the customer with an easy-to-fit access solution which is inconspicuous and space-saving while not in use but an extremely sturdy and safe ladder when deployed. The ladder can also be locked to stop unauthorised access.

If you are interested in this product, please call our team on 0800 077 6149 or email us on support@safelincs.co.uk

Hushing Interlinked Smoke Alarms

Interlinked smoke alarms are becoming more and more popular as they quickly alert you to the event of a fire across larger houses, where there is a risk that you might not hear an alarm going off in the kitchen when you are, for example, in a bedroom upstairs.

Whether connected to each other with wire or wirelessly interlinked through radio frequency, interlinked smoke alarms allow you to connect multiple units – including different types of detectors – which will all sound at the same time when a single alarm detects a potential fire. The heat alarm in the kitchen, the ionisation alarm in your home office, and the specialist strobe and vibration alarm in your elderly parents’ bedroom, for example, will all go off at the same time, if just one alarm is triggered by fire.

Most of us are familiar with the test button on smoke alarms which allows residents to test their alarms regularly, to ensure the components are working and the power supply, whether battery or mains power, is working. On top of this, however, many alarms have a “hush” button which allows you to silence an alarm that has gone off, for example, due to burnt toast.

So how do hush buttons work when you have several interlinked alarms?

It’s easy to assume that, as they are all connected, hushing one alarm will silence all of them, but it is equally logical that only the unit on which you pressed the hush button should be silenced – after all, you don’t want people to assume it was a false alarm if there really is a fire raging downstairs.

Interestingly, not all interconnecting smoke alarms hush in the same way. Here is an overview explaining the different approaches employed by the three main smoke alarm manufacturers in the UK.

Kidde Slick Wireless Smoke and Heat AlarmsFor Kidde smoke alarms, the originating alarm (the unit which detected a potential fire and triggered all of your units) will have its warning light flash faster than all other units while the alarm is sounding – enabling you to identify the smoke alarm that caused the alarm. Pressing the hush button on ANY unit will silence the ENTIRE network.

Ei160e Series Smoke and Heat AlarmsIf you have interlinking Ei Electronics smoke alarms, only the originating unit’s hush button will be able to silence the ENTIRE network. The other units in the circuit can be individually silenced. To identify the originating unit you need to look for the alarm whose warning light is flashing every second, compared to every 40 or so seconds on the other units.

FireAngel WST600 Series Radio-Interlinked Smoke and Heat AlarmsFireAngel smoke alarms, however, deploy an improved silencing protocol. If you hush the originating smoke alarm then, as with the other brands, ALL connected units will be silenced. However, if you hush any other unit, the ORIGINATING alarm will continue to sound but ALL OTHER units will be silenced. This allows you to quickly identify the originating alarm which is very helpful both in case of a false alarm or a real emergency.

If you require support selecting the best smoke alarm system for yourself, please contact the friendly Safelincs support team either by emailing support@safelincs.co.uk or by ringing 0800 612 6537