Office Fire Safety

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’.  Accordingly, as the responsible person in your office, you must:

  • 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

Office Fire Risk Assessments

Fire risk assessment being carried out
Office fire safety depends upon a comprehensive risk assessment

Fire risk assessments are mandatory for all offices. This must be followed up with the mitigation of identified risks and a comprehensive evacuation plan for the premises. Because risks can change, the FRA should be reviewed frequently and documented and reconducted if there is a change of use of the premises, or a fire safety incident occurs.

Fire risk assessments are important for the safety of employees and property. They provide a detailed review of your office space to identify fire risks and provide recommendations to either mitigate, reduce, or manage them.

A competent person can use our free fire risk assessment form to carry out a fire risk assessment if they have the required skills and knowledge to do so. This must be carried out in conjunction with the appropriate official fire risk assessment guide for offices.

Alternatively, you could instead, you can book a professional fire risk assessment for your office. Following this, you will receive a comprehensive fire risk assessment and detailed guidance should any recommendations for improvement be required.

For more information about fire risk assessments, visit out help guide.

What fire safety measures are required in an office?

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 mobility issues
  • Provide fire safety information and training

Evacuation and exit signage in offices

Fire exit signs
Photoluminescent fire escape route signs

Staff escaping a building must be visually directed to the safest and fastest route leading to the nearest fire exit., hence emergency lighting, is mandatory. Likewise, installing photo-luminescent (glow in the dark) fire escape route signs helps to ensure that the exit route is clearly visible. This ensures that even if the mains power fails, all escape route signs, stairs, and uneven floors are lit sufficiently for safe escape.

More information:

Conducting fire drills in an office

Carrying out regular fire drills in an office helps to ensure that all staff know what to do if the fire alarm goes off. Ensure that you also include practising alternative routes, so that staff are prepared in the event that their nearest fire escape is blocked by fire. 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 induction of new staff members should therefore include a ‘fire walk’. This enables you to show staff all the fire escape routes and where firefighting equipment is located.

Further to this, your evacuation plan should include guidance for the evacuation of staff and visitors with reduced mobility. This could be due to a long-term condition such as low-sight or wheelchair use, or a temporary illness or injury. Evacuation chairs offer a safe and easy solution to ensure that everyone can escape safely in the event of a fire. Because these are considered to be medical equipment, staff who would be expected to operate this device in an emergency must recieve specialist training.

Unsure if your office needs an evacuation chair? Find out who needs an evacuation chair.

What fire extinguisher is best for offices

Choosing the right type of extinguisher

Fire extinguishers installed in officed can be used to prevent small fires from becoming catastrophic, or to assist in safe escape from a building on fire. Staff should be encouraged to use these fire extinguishers only if they have been trained, and only if does not put them in any danger.

Water Mist Fire extinguisher
Water Mist fire extinguishers are safe for use on live electrical fires

It is paramount that you have the correct type of fire extinguisher or extinguishers to tackle every type of fire that could occur in your office. The types of combustible material that your office requires cover for will be identified by the fire risk assessment. If you are still unsure of which type of fire extinguisher you need in your office you can book a fire extinguisher site survey

For more information about fire classes or types of fire extinguisher visit our help guides. Fire extinguisher types guide.

In most office settings, only type A (solid combustibles) are a risk. Where this is the case, Water Mist Fire Extinguishers, which are suitable for use on fires involving electrical equipment, are a versatile solution. These units use deionised water to fight fires, meaning that they are non-toxic and safe for use indoors, while having just one type of extinguisher improves the confidence of staff to use the equipment in an emergency – they don’t have to make a decision about what type of extinguisher to use.

Installing extinguishers in offices

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

Fire Extinguisher maintenance

All extinguishers must have a monthly visual check to ensure that there is no visible damage to the unit:

  • 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?

If you have steel extinguishers installed, you must also ensure that an annual service is carried out by a trained engineer in accordance with the British Standards.

By installing P50 Service Free Water Mist extinguishers in your office when your steel extinguishers reach the end of their life, this annual service is not required.

Instead, a yearly visual inspection by a competent member of staff is sufficient. This must be documented in your fire safety log book. Service-Free extinguishers therefore reduce costs and administrative work associated with booking servicing, as well as the carbon footprint of your organisation, because an external engineer is not required to travel to your site.

Fire alarms and manual call points in offices

The responsible person must ensure that there is an adequate fire detection system in place. The size, configuration and use of your office will define what sort of fire alarm system you require.

Ensure that employees know to activate the nearest manual call point if they discover a fire. This activates the alarm system, which alerts all staff to the fire. New staff must be shown the call points during their induction period.

Generally, where multiple organisations share the same building, this has implications for fire safety. Therefore, you should ensure that there is a system in place to notify all building occupants to a fire.

Free fire safety log book for offices

We offer a free online log book, with custom reminders. Keeping an online log book will ensure that it is protected in the event of a fire. It is essential that you keep a record of all your fire safety checks and fire drills in a fire safety log book.

Free online fire safety log book for organisations with multiple sites

Safelincs has created a free online fire safety log book to help organisations to meet their legal obligations. Businesses and organisations must maintain fire safety log books to record regular equipment tests and findings to demonstrate compliance with the law, for example, traditional steel fire extinguishers have to be visually inspected monthly, serviced yearly and refilled after five years (except, of course, the service-free P50 fire extinguishers). Fire alarms, emergency lights, and other fire safety equipment must also be tested and serviced. Most inspections will be on different dates, so keeping track of your compliance can be a real challenge. If your company is spread over multiple sites, the challenge becomes even more daunting. Multiple members of staff will be involved in the compliance checking and will need to report their data to a central person.


The free online multi-user fire log book allows the recording of maintenance across multiple sites and also provides a reminder system for all people involved, sending automatic reminders until the safety check has been completed. The system gives the Responsible Person in an organisation a clear insight into the overall fire safety recording status. The fire safety log book holds all the data for you, you can print a copy at any time.

Other types of log books are available such as this fire log book template, but this type does not send automatic reminders to ensure that all fire safety checks are completed on time. Make fire safety compliance easy for your organisation and activate your free online fire safety log book.

Angie Dewick-Eisele


Angie Dewick-Eisele is co-founder of Safelincs Ltd, one of the leading fire safety providers in the UK. Angie was Marketing Manager for many years and as Director is these days responsible for Content Management.

Emergency lighting guide

This post was written in 2011 and a more recent version exists. Please read our new guide: what you need to know about emergency lighting.

Planning your emergency lighting can be quite daunting and appear very complicated. We have developed an emergency lighting guide to help with all the issues of planning where to install your emergency lights.

The guide has been developed through answering customer questions on emergency lighting installation, ensuring that we are answering the questions you want to ask.  The guide covers topics such as planning, location, types of lights, signs and testing your emergency lights.

The emergency lighting planning section goes through six steps to ensure that you comply to the most update legislation, including the Health & Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The guide is designed to help proprietors or people responsible for emergency lighting provisions to think about the many aspects of evacuation and escape.

The section on where to locate your emergency lighting covers every day areas such as corridors and junctions, where there may be a change in direction to stairways, steps and ramps as well as exits and fire and first aid points. There is also a section for areas that are not so common, covering large open areas, generators or heavy machinery, escalators and lifts. Each of the sections gives a comprehensive guide to which compliant emergency light is available, giving you the overview and possibility to choose the correct lighting not only for location but also in accordance with your budget.

Emergency lighting is only one section of this guide. The guide also covers the installation of safety signs, again giving advice in accordance with the Health & Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  It covers the requirement of externally illuminated signs or  internally illuminated fire exit signs.

Once the type of emergency lighting has been selected and the correct emergency exit or fire exit signs have been purchased it is critical to have some knowledge of the testing requirements as set down in the British Standard BS 5266-1:1999.

The emergency lighting guide looks at monthly testing, half yearly testing and testing of appliances that are three years old. It is the role of the designated responsible person to ensure that the emergency lighting, once it is installed, is working according to the legislation. When purchasing emergency lighting from Safelincs you can choose to register for a reminder at the end of the checkout process and we will automatically send you reminders to test your emergency lighting when the lighting is coming up for testing.

For recording your emergency lighting tests you can also download our free fire safety log book.

To make your assessment and planning of your emergency lighting as problem free as possible view the comprehensive guide