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Business continuity planning - Do you have a plan B?

Posted: 03/07/2013 13:02

How would your business function if its day-to-day operations were suddenly halted because of fire? The answer may seem obvious; if your business was destroyed by fire, the business could not function. But there are other considerations to take into account and the largest consideration should be continuity planning.

The risks to your business need to be considered and the potential continuity of the business addressed before anything unforeseen happens.

What if...

Many risks are not anticipated simply because human nature is such that we don't like to think about it. It is essential in the case of your business to consider the 'What if...' question and apply it to different scenarios.

Start with basic 'What if...' questions to highlight risks to your business. What if a building burned down? Would this be a major or a minor part of your operation?  If your business is office based, this would mean that the majority, if not all, of your IT equipment was destroyed. However, your data could be protected by regular back-ups to offsite storage and...

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Evacuation Lifts

Posted: 20/06/2013 15:26

  • Must comply with British Standard
  • Fire resisting construction
  • Backup power supply
  • Return to ground or other pre-arranged floor when alarm actuates
  • Must be operated by competent person with key
  • Do not respond to floor lift call buttons
  • Can be incorporated into PEEPs
Some buildings have one or more lifts that are designated 'evacuation' or sometimes 'fire-fighting' lifts, and these can be used for disabled evacuation if necessary. However, this can only be done by prior arrangement, as it will be necessary for a trained member of staff to take control of and operate the lift. Once the fire alarm sounds the lift will no longer respond automatically to landing call-buttons, and will generally return to the ground floor or other pre-arranged level. A key is usually needed to control the lift in these circumstances.


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Travel Distance

Posted: 20/06/2013 15:12

  • More than one direction of escape?
  • Type of risk - high, normal, low?
  • Sleeping area?
  • Production area?
  • Residential care?
  • People with disabilities?
When assessing the available means of escape from a building, it is necessary to take into account the distance that occupants will have to walk before reaching a final exit. The distance considered acceptable will very in accordance with a number of factors, but maximum 'travel distances' have been developed and refind over many years and published in a wide range of government approved fire safety guides.

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Posted: 06/06/2013 9:25

Refuges are designated areas, protected by fire - resisting construction in which people with impaired mobility can wait assistance. Refuges should, if possible, be sited on each floor adjacent to the stairways forming the escape route. Alternatively, a protected corridor, or even the stairway landing itself, may prove suitable. However, use of an escape route for this purpose must not hinder the evacuation of other occupants.

Each refuge should accommodate the number of disabled people located on that floor, including wheelchair users, and include alternative direction of escape. It should also have some means of communicating with the Security Desk, Reception or whoever controls the evacuation in your workplace.

A trained team can help the evacuee to safety by means of an approved evacuation lift or other method. Where delay may occur in carrying out the evacuation, it will be very reassuring to have someone else remain with the evacuee until the situation is resolved.

Refuge areas should be adequately signposted, and clear instructions for use provided within.

  • Protected landing, lobby or corridor
  • Minimum half hour fire resistance
  • Alternative direction...

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Personal Emergency Egress Plans (PEEPs)

Posted: 22/04/2013 16:46

  • Consult with employee first
  • Discuss nature and location of work, needs, problems and feasible solutions
  • Involve line managers, fire wardens, and any potential helpers
  • Agree procedures, escape routes and other relevant details
  • Draw up a written PEEP document, including plan drawing if necessary
  • Practice agreed procedure during a Fire Drill
A Personal Emergency Egress Plan (PEEP) should be drawn up in collaboration with any employee who has a relevant disability or need - temporary or permanent. First, an assessment must be undertaken (by Health and Safety Manager, Fire Safety Manager or other member of staff with appropriate knowledge and skills), consulting closely with the person in question to determine the level of disability and how this might affect safe evacuation.

Discussion should include the nature of their work and the location(s) where it is carried out, the particular needs and problems...

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