We know this is a changing time for everyone. West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has advice about its visits to the most vulnerable, as well as advice for businesses and residents.
Be assured that if you dial 999 and need the fire service, we will be there.
Safe and Well Visits
We have now resumed our Safe and Well Visits. They are done in a way that is designed to keep you and our staff safe. If you’d rather we didn’t enter your home there’s always the option of phone advice or a chat via Skype, along with our useful booklet which we can post to you. We may also be able to leave you a smoke alarm if you’d rather someone else installed it for you.
Fire safety during COVID-19
We’ve put together the following advice so you can keep your business, and those within the premises, as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic and during the easing of the nationwide lockdown.
Premises staying open
Fire safety should be considered so that premises are safe. This is not only from the risks associated with COVID-19, but from risks associated with fire and general health and safety.
Make sure any changes you make within your premises during this time do not negatively impact any preventative or protective control measures you have in place to deal with any other risks.
- Review your fire risk assessment - if staffing and occupant levels have changed (including fewer people within the premises than normal), this may affect evacuation arrangements in the event of fire. This should be recorded and any necessary measures should be taken to reduce any risks identified.
- Where parts of the premises are not being used or are being used differently due to rearrangement of layouts (such as one-way systems and barriers to help with social distancing), these should be carefully considered by your fire risk assessment before being implemented as it could affect the means of escape.
- Review your evacuation procedures - Are there enough staff members to assist with evacuation as necessary (roll calls, fire warden sweeps, moving and assisting residents)? Are your evacuation procedures impacted in any way?
- Review and provide staff training - If staff training hasn't been undertaken for some time, new staff have started, or fire safety measures have been altered, then staff should be provided with appropriate fire safety training.
- Carefully manage extra stock and positioning of stock - It is important to keep escape routes clear and to make sure stock is not in close proximity to ignition sources, or too close to smoke detectors or sprinkler heads, as this could affect their operation.
- You must also make sure stock is not obstructing any escape route(s) and that escape routes are kept clear at all times.
- Do not wedge open fire doors - We know people are worried the virus may be transmitted via surfaces that are regularly touched, such as door handles. We cannot stress enough how important it is to not wedge open fire doors. Focus on cleaning door handles and push plates regularly. Fire doors are a very important part of protecting people within premises.
- Check your escape routes - Check that exit doors open as they should, and that shared means of escape and all signed escape routes are available. Make sure escape routes are free from obstruction.
- Testing and maintenance of fire safety systems - This includes fire alarms, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers and sprinklers. These systems need to be kept in good working order. You should make sure no faults are displayed, you have carried out your in-house routine system tests and system maintenance is up-to-date before reopening.
Premises which will be closed
If your building is still closed, there are some key steps to take in order to reduce the risk of fire:
- Keep all entrances and exits clear. Rubbish and commercial bins should be emptied and stored securely away from any buildings.
- If possible, don’t store excessive amounts of stock in a hazardous manner.
- Turn off all electrical devices where possible and remove plugs from sockets.
- It is important to ensure your building is secure and continue with usual measures to prevent arson. This includes removing any external sources of fuel or ignition which could cause fire to spread. Ensuring gates and fences are closed and locked as well as having working CCTV, security systems and external lighting may help to prevent the anti-social behaviour which can lead to arson.
- If your building is connected or adjacent to a domestic dwelling and you have a shared fire alarm, you must still arrange for the testing to take place.
- Keep your fire risk assessment under review.
Employers should continue to undertake and review their personal emergency evacuation plans for their staff. This is particularly crucial in the care industry, where residents may rely on staff to instigate evacuation measures.
Alterations to buildings
Some buildings may currently be used in alternative ways. For example, pubs may introduce new all-seated areas. It is important to review your fire risk assessment if alternative ways of operating are in place.
Fire safety advice
We continue to provide fire safety advice during this time. You can find guidance and resources on Fire safety advice for businesses.
Additional advice is available by contacting our Fire Safety Officers. In most circumstances they will be able to provide this advice without visiting the premises. Officers that are visiting premises are provided with extra personal protection to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread.