Since the 1980s, the number of annual fatalities caused by fires has thankfully declined. Back in 1981/82, fires led to the deaths of over 900 people in the UK. By 2015/16 the figure had dropped to around 300. But the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017 was a shocking reminder that we cannot afford to become complacent about the causes and risks of fire in buildings.
Four of the most common fire-related risks in offices:
1. Not planning appropriate escape routes. Always take different people’s abilities to respond to, and escape from, a fire into account. This is partly about ways of safely vacating the building via fire exits, but also about the more day-to-day elements of your office layout. Would the density of occupation lead to a bottleneck in the event of a fire? Will those funky changes you want to make to the layout, or exciting alterations to the walls and corridors, help or hinder escape should the worst happen?
2. Electrical faults or misuse. The LFB cites several different kinds of electrical fault among the most common causes of office fires. These include improperly tested or poorly maintained portable items; the electrical system itself not being in good condition; and lighting being placed too close to flammable materials.
3. Wedging fire doors open. Properly installed-and-maintained fire doors can hold a fire back for 30 minutes… but only if they’re closed.
4. Smoking. While smoking has been banned in most working environments since 2007, it is still a common cause of office fires. Chiefly, this is due to materials being disposed of carelessly (think matches, cigarette butts and even lighters). Many businesses have been incredibly active in encouraging their employees to be healthier, including by quitting smoking. But acknowledging and managing smokers’ behaviour is still important to ensure that smoking doesn’t take place ‘under the radar’ in places where carelessness could cause a fire. (Behind the bins or in the stationery cupboard sound like clichés, but we’re sure UK’s fire brigades have been there, seen it, and dowsed the flames.)
To discuss the fire safety aspects of your office design and office fit out, consult us,
call 0118 981 0005 or email [email protected]