Business owners have a legal responsibility for fire stopping in their property. Even if you are working in a new or recently refurbished building, don’t assume your workplace is fully compliant. Check, otherwise you might be breaking the law and risking the life of every single person who visits your offices.
Yes, I know, more legislation and conflicting advice to wade through! Don’t worry – we’re here to help you understand Passive Fire Protection (‘fire stopping ‘), give you clarity on what you need to do to comply and how.
Fire stopping explained
Compliance with Passive Fire Protection (PFP), means your offices can contain a fire long enough for people to escape. Your part in this vital role of preserving and protecting life can be summed up as follows:
- Guaranteeing a reliable means of escape.
- Stopping the spread of fire, hot gases and smoke long enough to allow staff and visitors to escape. This means making sure there are no breaches to the designated fire compartmentation of your workplace.
- Fire stopping work must be certified to be legally compliant
Stopping or slowing the spread of fire is paramount but just one, single breach can jeopardise your fire defence system.
Who is responsible for fire stopping in rented offices
In commercial property, both the landlord and the tenant share fire safety responsibilities. For example, in a multi-occupied office block all the tenants have responsibilities for their own office space (as identified above). The landlord or managing agent must ensure compliance with fire regulations in common areas such as staircases. Landlords are also responsible for maintaining and checking shared fire safety equipment.
How fire could spread in your workplace
The spread of fire is controlled primarily through ‘compartmentation’, this can be a combination of walls, doors, floors and ceilings to divide your workplace into manageable areas of risk. Then all the gaps need to be sealed to avoid fire stopping breaches.
Fire stopping breaches
Introducing services is the most common reason for a breach. For example, upgrading your IT or having air conditioning fitted. Every opening in your designated fire compartment that allows services to pass through must be sealed because simply drilling a hole in a wall can lead to fire and fumes escaping into your protected escape route.
Fire door installation
The same issue applies to fire doors. Non-compliant and / or poorly-installed doors won’t stop a fire spreading nor act as a means of escape. Fire door installation plays a major role in protecting people, which is why you need a complete system: 30, 60 or 120 minute fire-rated, with the appropriate frame, seals, and self-closing device. Then, have it installed by a qualified technician. All fire stopping work needs to be regularly surveyed with a relevant maintenance schedule thereafter.
5 reassuring steps to fire stopping compliance
Here are 5 steps you can take to ensure you are doing everything in your power to stop the spread of fire in your workspace:
- Get a Fire Risk Assessment: a report on your compliance with Passive Fire Protection will give you vital recommendations for any necessary remedial action.
- Find a team of reliable refurb and refit professionals fully qualified in and familiar with fire stopping measures.
- Schedule vital maintenance to your fire doors to check they remain compliant.
- Be sure to get certification that you comply with fire safety regulations.
- Remember to carry out a fire risk reassessment following any upgrade or introduction of new services to your offices.
Non-compliance with fire stopping is one thing, representing a significant threat to life (however unwittingly) is another. Make sure you know your fire stopping responsibilities as an employer and get the right professional help to carry them out.
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