While ensuring fire safety is a year-round endeavour, the winter months present their own unique and difficult challenges, which you need to carefully consider and plan for. The responsibilities of business and property owners are huge and have not been made easier by the current economic impact of the pandemic.
Here, we discuss the threats of cold weather to fire safety and how to prepare your business or property for the winter months.
What are the dangers?
Unprotected fire extinguishers pose a serious risk to fire safety throughout winter. The contents of a standard extinguisher can freeze in low temperatures, rendering the unit obsolete in the case of a fire. The most worrying thing about this is that you may only become aware of the problem during an emergency when you need the extinguisher to function.
Protecting your fire extinguishers
It’s your responsibility, in compliance with BS 5306 Standards, to ensure extinguishers on your premises are protected – from accidental damage, vandalism or corrosion due to harsh weather conditions, for example. Depending on where your extinguishers are located, some may be more likely than others to suffer from knocks, bumps and scuffs if they’re exposed to high footfall traffic. If this is the case, extra measures should be put in place to guarantee extinguishers’ safe-keeping, providing reassurance they’ll work as they should in the event of a fire.
Storage units provide an effective solution and offer an extra layer of protection. For indoor settings, our trusted Commander Double Lockable Cabinet can house up to two extinguishers and can even be fitted with locks and alarms to prevent accidental damage and tampering.
Meanwhile, extinguishers kept outside require an even more durable storage option. The Commander Safety Box is specifically made for outdoor settings, such as petrol forecourts, transport depots etc.
An alternative requirement of BS 5306 Standards is to use extinguishers that are designed to deal with harsh environments. Where standard foam or water extinguishers may freeze in the cold, a Low Freeze Additive (LFA) extinguisher includes an anti-freeze additive, preventing the contents of the unit from freezing at temperatures as low as -10°C. Currently, CheckFire is the only trade supplier to offer pre-filled (water or foam) LFA extinguishers.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to use an extinguisher or experience a fire in your property or business. While it’s vital to protect your extinguishers through the winter, prevention is the first and best means of saving lives and ensuring fire safety.
Extinguishers: Make sure that your fire extinguishers are clearly labelled and located according with your fire risk assessment. Invest in cabinets and other storage units to reduce the risk of cold weather affecting their contents. For water and foam fire extinguishers in an outdoor setting, ensure their contents aren’t at risk from freezing temperatures by looking to our Low Freeze Additive (LFA) extinguisher.
Electrics: Last year, electrical devices were the primary source of ignition for over 12,000 fires in the UK. Ensure that your electrics are checked by a professional as soon as possible and replace any appliances that do not pass inspection. You can also distribute training/awareness materials to staff or residents, covering safe usage of electrical devices and what to do in the event of an electrical fire.
Fire equipment: Testing smoke alarms weekly (set reminders with the
Evacuation: Be sure to run frequent fire drills leading up to winter and evacuate your occupants/employees, testing their response time and the effectiveness of your escape route in a safe, controlled way. Fire safety law dictates that fire drills must be conducted at least once a year, or more depending on how the premises is used. Schools, for example, will require more frequent drills and any businesses that have had to adapt to become COVID-secure must test their new ‘set-up’ accounts for a safe and efficient evacuation. Furthermore, the results of every fire drill should be recorded and kept as part of your fire safety strategy.
Looking to prepare your premises for the colder months? Download our product brochure or head over to our Resource Centre, which we regularly update with a host of materials and expert advice on fire safety.
If you’re in the trade and want to learn more about how to become a CheckFire customer, visit our dedicated Trade Customer page for more information.