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How the Firefighters’ Industrial Action Might Affect YOUR Business
Posted by David Cant on November 11, 2014

A house of Matches and Fire Extinguisher
How the Firefighters’ Industrial Action Might Affect YOUR Business

In case you don’t pay attention to the news – for the past four days, firefighters across England have been on strike in a pension dispute.

Whatever their reasons for taking action – the current strike can make a big impact on your business – so you better make sure you’re prepared to deal with it.

While contingency plans will be in place – sometimes this just isn’t enough. As an employer, you’re going to be responsible for fire safety. So you need to have all your bases covered.

Here’s what you need to do:

Review your most recent fire risk assessment

If you haven’t carried out a fire risk assessment in a while, then this should jump to the top of your list.

The workplace environment is always changing, on a day-to-day basis. A plan made on an assessment done a year ago will be pretty much entirely useless.

You need to identify all fire hazards around you. Some of the obvious clangers include combustible waste stored on site, flammable liquids and vapours, and over-heating machinery.

But there are also other factors you might not realise – dust build-up in closed spaces can cause explosions. Not to mention electrical faults and overloaded power sockets.

The biggest clanger of all? Smoking. If people want to smoke, make sure you provide a safe place and somewhere to put those cigarettes out.

Check all detection systems

A faulty detection system is not going to do you much good when an emergency strikes.

So check them out – and make sure they actually work! You may also need to add additional detectors, if your workplace layout has changed since you last installed them.

Check out escape plans in your building

It’s not enough just to have a vague idea of an escape exit. All workplaces must have clear fire evacuation plans in place.

You’ll need to have clear passageways – at all times – to escape routes. The last thing you want is to clear out a load of old boxes from the fire exit.

Escape routes should be as short and direct as possible – and clearly marked up.

If you need them, emergency lights can help – especially for exit routes.

And make sure employees know about them

You’re responsible for your employees’ safety. So you need to make sure they know where to go in an emergency.

Make sure there is a safe meeting point for all staff – and that everyone knows about it.

You should also give training for employees on escape routes and exits. And if there is anyone with mobility needs, make sure that there are others available to help them get up or downstairs, if needed.


All new staff members are supposed to be trained on fire safety procedures when they join.

But for everyone else, it can be a little too easy to get lax and forget exactly what you’re supposed to do.

So get a drill in place, pronto! You should have at least one drill a year – and note down the results of what happened. This will show you where the problems are with your current plan, and how you might need to change them.

Are you up to speed on fire safety at work?

Do you have any concerns about how the on- going strike might affect you?

As always, if you have any questions – just ask.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Fire Risk Assessments, Health and Safety, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Services, Workplace Health and Safety, Workplace Safety

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