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Your legal duties and steps you can take to improve fire safety

Fire presents a significant risk to businesses. It can kill or seriously injure employees or visitors and can also damage or destroy buildings, equipment or stock. 

The Scottish Fire Rescue Service is the body responsible of enforcing fire legislation within Scotland. They may visit your premises to ensure that you have taken the necessary precautions to manage fire hazards within your organisation.

Use the links below to find information on identifying and managing the risk of fire within your organisation. 

  1. Common fire related hazards
  2. Fire safety precautions
  3. Fire safety training
  4. Fire safety legislation

2. Fire safety precautions

Good fire safety practice that you should follow includes

  • keeping your workplace tidy and having a good standard of housekeeping
  • regularly removing combustible waste, including accumulations of dust
  • keeping ignition sources away from combustible material or flammable liquids and gases
  • keeping use of flammable liquids to a minimum and closing containers when not in use.​

Emergency planning

You need to be prepared for an emergency, such as a fire. An emergency plan should clearly explain what to do in the event of an emergency. It should also describe responsibilities of key employees and what they need to do.

You should create a written evacuation procedure. This procedure should explain what needs to happen in the event of a fire alarm being raised. For example, the location of fire alarm call points, extinguishers, exits and details of nominated persons along with their areas of responsibility.

​It's very important that you train your employees. Ensure that they are familiar with the emergency plan. You should then test the arrangements in the plan regularly.

You should also carry out a fire drill at least twice a year. The drill will help to ensure that the plan works, and that people can follow it. You should correct any problems found during the drill. 

Fire alarms and detectors

You need to provide a method for detecting a fire quickly and raising the alarm. The warning system, when it has been set off from any point, should be clearly heard throughout the premises. It should provide enough warning for people to evacuate the building safely.

Additionally you should provide clear instructions or notices showing people how to operate the warning system, and how to respond to it.

It's important all fire safety measures are maintained and regularly tested. You should test your fire alarms weekly.

Escape routes

All escape routes must be easily identifiable, with instructions about the means of escape displayed. You also need to provide instructions and training for your employees on how to escape in the event of an emergency.

You need to ensure that there are enough exits through the building, and that they are in the right places. This will allow you to guarantee that, in the event of a fire anywhere in the building, there is at least one free route available.

The type and size of exits will depend on the number of people likely to use them in the event of an evacuation.  Escape routes must be adequately illuminated and free of any obstacles. You should do daily checks to ensure this.

​Evacuation of disabled people

You need to make arrangements to ensure the safe evacuation of everybody in your premises.

Your fire risk assessment​ should identify groups of people at risk, taking particular care of vulnerable groups or individuals. For example children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

To help identify their needs you should create personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEP) when required. The PEEPs should be tailored to the individual and should give clear explanations of the evacuation procedure.

For premises where it is not known who could visit, such as hotels, standard PEEPs can be created. These are procedures to assist people with disabilities. Employees should be trained on how to put PEEPs into practice in the event of an emergency.

Fire extinguishers 

Any fire needs

  • oxygen
  • fuel
  • heat.

Different fire extinguishers will remove one of these elements to stop it.

When deciding ways of fighting fires you need to decide on the type of fire extinguisher and where they should be located. This will guarantee that they are suitable for the type of fire that could occur, and of sufficient capacity for the fire risks at the premises.

They should be located at obvious places, and you should highlight their location. Fire extinguishers should be close to fire hazards, and you need to make sure that people can access them without being exposed to any risk.

People that are likely to use fire extinguishers should receive training on how to use them. You need to ensure that fire extinguishers are serviced annually.

Find out more

Visit the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service site for more fire safety guidance​

Visit the Scottish Government site for sector specific guidance​