Covid-19: Fire safety advice for businesses

If you own or manage a business, it is vital that you continue to ensure the safety of your staff and people who visit your premises. It is the duty of the Responsible Person* to ensure risk from fire is identified and suitable measures implemented.

There is no relaxation in fire safety law.

To help you, we have the following Covid-19 fire safety advice for businesses:

You will need to review and update the premises fire risk assessment. Ensure it is current and reflects the way the premises is operating, with the risk from fire assessed against the risk from Covid-19.

Read the government's latest guidance on understanding how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, read about how we are doing fire inspections during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alterations to buildings

Some premises may have been repurposed to undertake other work. An example would be a storage warehouse with a few staff, now undertaking work to manufacture medical items or pack food parcels. This may have happened within a short timeframe and the change in risk and the measures required to keep people safe in the event of a fire, may not have been a primary consideration.

In all cases, you should review the premises fire risk assessment. Determine the effect on risk and the mitigating measures that may need to be taken.

The pandemic does not remove any requirements under the Building Regulations to ensure that alterations meet the functional requirements.

See the government's guidance on Building Regulations during the pandemic.

The risk of fire

Alongside normal day-to-day fire prevention measures, you should:

  • store any excess waste securely and away from premises, where possible
  • ensure staff remain vigilant to and report emerging new practices which may have an adverse impact on your current fire safety precautions
  • prohibit any hot works unless necessary. If they do need to take place, ensure they are carried out by a competent person with a suitable and sufficient risk assessment in place with appropriate checks following completion of the work
  • ensure any excess storage does not block escape routes and is stored away from any potential sources of ignition.
  • Keep your fire risk assessment under review with consideration to arson risk.

Legal notices

The situation with Covid-19 has not changed the status of any notices issued under The Fire Safety Order. If you need to speak to someone about a notice please contact our Fire Safety Helpline 01392 872567 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

Employees working from home

Please encourage employees working from home to:

  • check home fire safety arrangements and ensure that smoke alarms are fitted, tested and are working correctly
  • use electrical items safely e.g. do not 'daisy chain' extension leads
  • make sure all members of the family know what to do if there is a fire - particularly those who live with older people and children
  • get in a routine of carrying out a bedtime check - close all doors, unplug electrical appliances and chargers, check heaters are off, and any candles and cigarettes are properly extinguished.

Remind everyone if there is a fire:

  • get out,

  • stay out, and

  • call the fire service out by dialling 999.

The Responsible Person as defined in The Fire Safety Order is a hierarchy where the Responsible Person is:
1. The employer;
2. Where there is no employer, the person who has control of the premises; or
3. The owner.

** A competent person is someone with enough training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable them properly to assist in undertaking the preventive and protective measures.