A fire either accidental or deliberate is a nightmare scenario for any business. It’s not just the inconvenience and loss of trade but the potential loss of business critical data and records and not least the threat to life should the fire start during working hours.
In the majority of cases the emergency services will be on the scene in a matter of minutes but you have to consider the task they face when arriving at a fire in a property they are unfamiliar with. This is where the provisions of BS9999 come into play and in particular the responsibilities of business owners and managers as defined in BS 9999: Annex M Under the provision proprietors must provide information on key safety aspects of the building preferably secured in an Emergency Plans Box (EPB) located close to the entrance of a building accessible to the Fire and Rescue Service.
This requirement is reinforced by HM Government guidance notes on fire safety risk assessments which call for the provision of information to the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) under section 7.3.
What goes in the box? Well just about any information that can be useful to the FRS in tackling a fire based on four key areas.
- Means of escape
- Access and facilities for fire fighting
- Fire safety management records
In practice the EPB should contain at least the following:
- Detailed Floor plans of the building showing stairwells, fire exits or other escape routes.
- Details of the type of construction showing solid and stud type walling, ceiling and floor construction details
- The location and extent of passive fire safety provisions in the construction such as fire walls, cavity barriers and fire stopping. The original building contractor should have provided this on handover so if you are a tenant you should request a copy.
- The location and type of any active fire protection such as fire sprinkler systems including the location of pump and valve rooms.
- Your Fire Risk Assessment records as required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This should include details and location of any stored hazardous materials particularly flammables and toxic chemicals.
A quality Emergency Plans Box will have a strong steel construction with secure key locking access door. Look for models with a break glass facility for emergency access to the door key.
To ensure the information stored is presented in a consistent format recognised by the FRS we include a guidance manual containing good practice guidelines on the process of preparing premises plans and collating information for your EPB, including sections on orientation plans, layout, safety and emergency provisions.