But it is vital that the fire safety of the business and the safety of all the people working in or visiting your business are maintained.
You must ensure that you have an adequate amount of competent persons to help in the implementation of preventative and protective fire safety measures.
If you have absent staff you must ensure that there are adequately trained staff on-site at all times, to ensure the fire safety measures are not adversely affected.
If your building is closed for an extended period of time ensure it is secure and continue with usual measure to prevent arson:
During this time you should continue to maintain and regularly test your fire safety provisions onsite (e.g. alarm test, fire drills).
With a reduced work force there may be an increased likelihood of people working alone within buildings; you need to ensure that these people are provided with adequate warning in case of fire so they do not become trapped.
It may be necessary to review your fire risk assessment during this time to ensure suitable and sufficient measures are in place.
Try to ensure premises are regular checked to ensure that security of the building is not compromised and identify any attempts of arson, any issues should be reported to local police on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or in an emergency always call 999.
The Covid-19 outbreak is affecting day to day life for everyone in nearly all walks of life. With regards to the routine testing and maintenance of fire protection measures within buildings, a pragmatic approach is required to be taken.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service issued advice last week with regards to the safe and effective temporary closing down procedures for businesses by ensuring electrical items were isolated, fire doors closed and the risk of arson reduced by removing combustibles from buildings. This advice is still relevant and therefore those premises that have closed down should take a responsible pragmatic approach to the maintenance of fire protection measures and review their fire risk assessments accordingly.
Where premises are temporarily closed down but a fire on the premises could affect other relevant persons (e.g. commercial premises beneath living accommodation), then the Responsible Person should ensure that the means for giving warning in case of fire (smoke detection and alarm) are in good working order and maintained. Other areas of maintenance designed specifically for the means of escape directly from the commercial premises (e.g. emergency lighting) can after a thorough risk assessment be relaxed in this circumstance but assurances are required that all measures are in good working order prior to premises reopening.
Where premises remain open, then the maintenance of fire protection measures should continue as far as is reasonably practical balancing the risk of cross infection of Covid-19 with that of ineffective fire protection measures. Where outside companies are contracted to maintain equipment, then a specific risk assessment should be completed to ensure social distancing measures are maintained throughout the checks.
Staff undertaking critical fire safety roles are providing vital public safety functions and they may, therefore, be classified as critical workers. However to allow for robust risk assessments to put in place a short delay (1-2 weeks) would be deemed acceptable in the interim. Responsible persons should plan for the situation to continue in the medium and long term and have plans available to mitigate the risk from fire in all situations.
Naturally this advice will be under constant review as the situation evolves. Should you wish for further advice please do not hesitate to contact Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service on 0800 0241 999 or alternatively via email on: