5 ways to protect an older property from fire

At Synergy, we live and breathe fire safety and we care passionately about ensuring the businesses we work with never suffer the devastating affects of a blaze at work. 

Armed with our advice, business owners are becoming more safety savvy and serious fires are thankfully rare. But when they do happen, they can be life-changing.

The impact a widespread fire can have was particularly evident when the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral in Paris was devastated by a fire earlier this month. We’re sure, like us, you watched the news of the fire unfold and the majestic 16th century spire crumble and felt utter dismay at the wealth of history being destroyed.

As BAFE SP205 accredited Fire Risk Assessors we work with hundreds of businesses housed in all kinds of buildings – from newly built modern offices to beautiful old places steeped in history. Older buildings are trickier to manage but there are ways you can address any fire and safety concerns you may have. 

Here are our tips for protecting older business properties from fire:

Upgrade your lighting and CCTV

Installing extra lighting in the grounds of your workplace will deter anyone looking for a secluded spot to light a fire. CCTV is also a cost-effective way of combating arson and deterring people from using your land inappropriately. Some CCTV systems can also be monitored remotely, allowing contact with a security call-centre if any untoward activity is detected. This means the police can be contacted quickly.

Related: How to protect your business from arson

Secure your premises

Unsecured outdoor areas can be tempting for people looking for somewhere to set off fireworks or light a bonfire, especially if you have lots of industrial waste such as pallets and boxes which could be used to ignite it. Older buildings tend to be set within open spaces and large grounds, which makes can make security difficult. To reduce the risk of this happening, you need to ensure your site is secure.

Related: How to protect your workplace while you’re away

Check for faulty electrics

Everything from frayed computer cables to broken kitchen appliances can possibly cause a fire in your workplace. Equipment should be regularly tested and monitored to ensure it’s up to the job and not dangerous. Most companies won’t allow you to bring equipment in from home – so check your policies before you plug anything in. Electrical wiring in old properties can also be a disaster waiting to happen so make sure it’s regularly tested for signs of wear and tear by a professional.

Check your fire alarm system

How old is your fire alarm system? It may be time for an upgrade. It may seem like a job for a rainy day but it could save lives and your livelihood going up in flames. The Fire Safety Order 2005 says that any business with more than five employees must be equipped with the right fire safety equipment, including a working fire alarm system. Fire alarms should be tested and documented at the same time every week with new batteries replaced twice a year – not just when it has alerted you to your burnt toast!

Related: Are your smoke detectors up to the job?

Renew your Fire Risk Assessment

Your workplace may be old, but you have a duty to ensure your Fire Risk Assessment is renewed annually. Your Fire Risk Assessment is one of the most essential tasks you will undergo to ensure your business premises, and everyone in it, remain safe. We carry out fire risk assessments to the PAS79 format, which provides a clear action plan for what is needed to comply with the Fire Safety Order. We provide free fire safety advice for a year as well as all the necessary legal documentation and paperwork required to make you compliant.

Would your business premises survive in the event of a fire?

Matt Spivey, the Managing Director of Synergy Fire Engineering, BAFE SP205 accredited Fire Risk Assessors, is a highly qualified member of the Institution of Fire Engineers and holds a BEng (Hons) in Fire Engineering. For more information and advice about anything discussed in this article, or anything relating to fire prevention and safety, please contact Synergy Fire Engineering on 01629 828 881. Or email [email protected]  

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