With Britain in lockdown and government officials asking non-essential employees to work remotely, once fully occupied buildings and popular businesses are near vacant. To some, this may seem like an acceptable time to let fire protection take a back seat.
There is confusion as to whether the government values construction as essential work and therefore, if sites should remain open.
In England, the government has recommended that construction should continue, as long as the work can be conducted in accordance with social distancing guidelines. To ensure it is safe to operate in our workplace, the industry has developed site operating procedures (SOP). Companies that remain operational will work in guidance with these procedures to ensure their workforce and the premise remain safe.
Recommendations for fire safety
Professionals across the fire safety industry have recommended that fire protection and life safety systems are maintained in all commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings throughout the pandemic. They suggest that the personnel and vendors who service these systems should be deemed key workers.
To avoid exacerbating the current environment by compromising fire safety, and leaving buildings vulnerable, the following has been recommended:
- Residential buildings should maintain fully operational fire and life safety systems in accordance with the existing fire strategy.
- The responsible person should (if possible) adhere to the expected schedules for inspection, testing and maintenance that are vital to their operation.
- Where possible, the inspection, testing and maintenance requirements should be executed by a single service provider. This can therefore help limit the need for face-to-face interaction.
- Maintaining passive fire protection is critical, especially in health care occupancies. Blocking fire rated doors can compromise the integrity of a building’s compartmentation plan.
- If construction sites are temporarily abandoned, systems should remain in an operating condition specified in the construction safety plan.
At Global, we appreciate that the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus is requiring the majority of industries to function in ways that are counter to the norm. There is a requirement for flexibility within these organisations as they work to accommodate the demands of the current crisis. Whilst adapting to the everchanging circumstances, it is also vital that businesses still consider the pre-existing threats, including fire safety.
Global are committed to meeting client demands, by providing fire safety management and health, safety and environmental solutions. During these difficulties, our workforce are operating within government guidelines and sites that remain open, are in accordance with SOP. Read our position on operating during the pandemic here. If you are unsure whether now is an appropriate time to assess your fire protection, get in touch with us. Our team are working hard to ensure the guidelines are met and will be able to advise on the correct procedure.