How To Improve Fire Safety In Existing Commercial Buildings

The government has strict fire safety regs that should be adhered to in any commercial building. Of course, these are assessed and verified in a new build but this is not always so easy in existing commercial buildings. This doesn’t mean existing buildings don’t need to comply. It simply means it is more difficult to reach the same standards. That’s why you need to understand how to improve safety in existing commercial buildings

Safety Features

It’s important to acknowledge the safety features you have and what features should be added. For example, every business should have smoke detectors fitted. These are the easiest way to spot a fire and warn everyone on the premises. 

You’ll need smoke detectors on every level of the building and potentially in every room. It’s a good idea to hardwire these into the existing phone system, allowing the smoke detectors to call the fire service for you. 

Alongside this, you can have small fire extinguishers. All personnel should be trained in how to use the extinguishers and have practice with them. However, fire extinguishers should only be used on small fires and when people are confident they can handle the blaze.

Commercial buildings should also fit smoke curtains. These are attached to the ceiling and barely noticeable. However, when the smoke detector goes off or the sensor built into the curtain detects smoke, the curtains will drop from the ceiling to head height. 

This allows you to move freely under the curtain. 

The curtains will contain the smoke. Smoke naturally rises which is why the curtains are very effective at trapping it. This can buy time for everyone to escape.  It should be noted that smoke is generally considered more dangerous in a fire than the fire itself. This is because it suffocates you, disorientates you, and can even affect you after you’ve got out of the building. 

Escape Plans

Fire safety means planning for something to go wrong and hoping it doesn’t. Once you’ve created a viable plan you will need to test it. There should be at least two possible exit routes from every room in the building.

It’s not enough to draw the plans. You also need to think about marking the routes. After all, in a commercial building, there may be a variety of people present, they all need to know how to get out fast.  

Practice

As well as creating the plan you should have unscheduled practices. These ensure that everyone takes the threat of fire seriously and gets out safely. 

Organization

Commercial buildings often have a multitude of things that are flammable and can create a real issue in a fire. You need to assess what items are on-site and then ensure that they are all located in the safest possible place. 

Combustible materials near potential sources of fire are not a good idea. Eliminate clutter and make sure all products are stored securely. Their release can then be carefully controlled, reducing the risk of a fire starting.