How to make fire safety for facility managers more efficient

Did you know there were 14,308 fires in UK non-residential buildings in 2019/20? The government’s statistics show that industrial premises have the highest number of conflagrations, followed by retail outlets and food and drink establishments. These figures reiterate the importance of following good practices around fire safety for facility managers.

In the UK, the 2005 fire safety law stipulates that a responsible person must “take such general fire precautions as will ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of any of his employees”. Therefore, it is a legal requirement that any kind of non-residential premises needs to have someone in charge of fire prevention. In many cases that will be the facility manager.

An overloaded socket on fire - fire safety is a key concern for facility managers.

At present, fire prevention is usually a manual process and this can make it harder to follow best practice. But things are changing.

The problem with fire safety for facility managers

Most facilities managers will have attended training on fire prevention and you should be aware of the common risks and how to minimise them. However, ensuring your buildings are free of fire risks is a highly manual activity, requiring lots of floor walks and inspections. You also need to remember to conduct periodic assessments of things like fire extinguishers. If you’re already busy, keeping up to date with fire safety prevention methods can be a challenge.

Typical fire safety checklists include things like:

  • Identifying new hazards
  • Checking waste
  • Inspecting piles of debris
  • Performing safety checks on electronic equipment
  • Carrying out safety checks on cookers
  • Performing safety checks on machinery
  • Testing fire doors
  • Checking escape plans
  • Performing fire drills
  • Considering the needs of vulnerable people (children, elderly or disabled)
  • Checking smoke alarms
  • Inspecting fire extinguishers
  • Offering fire safety training to new staff and refreshing others

Some of these jobs will be the duty of the facility management team, while other tasks will be the responsibility of all staff. Regular cleaning and housekeeping, for instance, is everyone’s responsibility.

Remembering to do all these tasks at the right time can be a challenge, especially in large buildings or complexes. You might also lack evidence that someone has actually completed all of the tasks. It’s easy enough for someone to tick a box saying they’ve tested smoke alarms even if they haven’t done them all. These problems not only increase the risk of fire but also mean you could be at risk of legal proceedings for criminal negligence.

The good news is that fire safety for facility managers is being made easier thanks to new technology.

Planning for fires: Top considerations to avoid blaze risks

How technology is improving outdated fire safety checklists

Digital technology can help improve processes related to fire safety for facility managers. Using an app like PlanRadar you can reduce the risk of blazes in several ways:

  • Produce fire risk assessments

A digital fire risk assessment means you can ask your teams to conduct risk assessments on a periodic basis. You send a reminder to the employee that is responsible for the fire risk assessment and they simply open up the form in their app and complete it as they go. It will be the same protocol every time, ensuring consistency across your properties.

Download and customise the fire risk assessment template we’ve designed for PlanRadar.

  • A digital record of fire safety for facility managers

Facility managers must keep a record of all fire checks they have conducted, when they completed them and what their findings were. By using an app to do this, all your records will be stored digitally, in the cloud, in perpetuity. This means you will always have evidence of which fire tests were conducted, when and by whom.

  • Get satisfactory evidence that checks have been completed

There is always a danger that some staff will see fire safety checks as a ‘box-ticking exercise’. You might send someone out to test all the smoke alarms in your building, but if the only evidence you have is a tick in a box on a paper form, you can’t be certain the test has actually been completed. Once again, a digital solution can help. You can ask employees to record a short video of them pressing the test button on each smoke alarm to verify the test was done properly.

  • Set regular reminders

When you’ve got a lot on your plate, it’s easy to forget all the fire prevention checks and assessments you need to do. But with digital technology, you can automatically set up reminders to ensure you’ll always do the job on time. Whether it’s fire drills, checking fire doors or replacing lightbulbs in fire exit signs, regular reminders in an app can help you stay up to date.

  • Create tickets

There are certain fire inspections that most facility managers cannot perform themselves. Electrical equipment in particular will usually need someone from an outside body to come in and do specialised tests. Showing them where the equipment is and walking from machine to machine will take up a lot of time!

Once again, an app can help. The technician can open up a blueprint of your building on their phone, and you can assign tickets to each piece of equipment, with its precise location on the blueprint. This saves you time showing them where everything is.

Time to upgrade fire safety for facility managers?

Fire prevention is one of the most important duties of facility managers. However, a traditional approach with paper-based fire safety checklists means it is easier to cut corners, forget duties and waste time. And that’s where digital tools can help with fire safety for facility managers. Find out about PlanRadar’s features that help you to manage and reduce the risk of fires in your establishment, or contact us today for a demo.

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