FIRE SAFETY IN THE RETAIL SECTOR
Retail buildings come in all forms of different shapes and sizes, from small grocery stores to shopping centres and large supermarkets.
Retail environments tend to be very busy for the majority whilst the property is open (if not at all times). And as the owner of such a business, it is your duty to keep safety standards at a high level, including fire safety.
No matter the size of your retail business, good fire safety practices are essential in protecting yourself, your customers and your property.
Fire risks in retail buildings
Retail buildings being so diverse means that the fire risks are dependent on the type of environment.
However, common fire risks for retail businesses include:
Some retail businesses contain highly flammable materials. Retail businesses such as clothing shops or furniture stores have a high volume of flammable materials that they sell.
Their products are the fire risks, so although they can’t change their products for a safer environment (and so they shouldn’t) there is preventable fire measure they can undertake to reduce the risks of a fire.
Most, if not all, retail businesses will contain electrical appliances whether that’s tills, computers, fridges and so on. Whether you have just a few electrical appliances or an abundance of them, the risk is still the same. It only takes one faulty or misused electrical appliance to start a fire.
Some retail businesses will have kitchens, shopping centres for example quite commonly have food courts or restaurants.
Kitchens obviously pose a fire risk due to open flames for hobs but also kitchen appliances. If these appliances aren’t used correctly and safely, it is easy for a fire to start, so extra safety precautions should be followed in kitchens.
As retail businesses usually have a busy atmosphere, this can make them a target for arson attacks.
Moreover, retail businesses produce a lot of waste, so they require a lot of bins/skips which are a common target to start a fire.
Preventing fire hazards in retail buildings
There are a number of things you can do to prevent and protect your retail property from a fire.
The most common prevention and protection methods are:
Fire risk assessment
A fire risk assessment is an important first step to carry out in your retail business, which should be carried out by a professional, for good fire safety measures.
The assessment will help you determine what fire hazards are present in your environment such as faulty electrical appliances close to flammable materials.
This allows you to then make any necessary changes to your environment to make sure the risks are reduced as much as possible.
Fire safety equipment
Although the aim for fire safety prevention is to not have a fire break out at all, you still need fire safety equipment present in case the worst was to happen.
Fire alarms and fire extinguishers are commonly the most important fire safety equipment you need in your retail premises. PAT testing equipment is another important one for retail as electrical appliances are very common.
Fire safety training
Being able to use fire safety equipment safely and correctly is essential. Without proper training, you or your employees may not know what best fire-fighting equipment they should use for the type of fire they are presented with.
Also, with fire safety training, you and your staff will learn about the most effective fire safety procedures to be followed for your type of business.
Keep your retail building fire-safe
As you already know, fire safety for retail buildings is crucial and fires are preventable with extra care and thought.