We hear a lot about fire safety and how it should be implemented in buildings, whether they are residential or commercial. What does fire safety in empty buildings mean though? Here, we take a look at fire protection and precautions when looking at empty buildings. There are still fire regulations and safety concerns to be aware of, as well as requirements linked to buildings insurance. Those people responsible for fire safety must be aware of what is expected of them when owning an empty building, and not just for buildings where there are people present at all times, or even storage spaces for commercial enterprises. Fire safety comprises many different angles, from fire doors and fire extinguishers to fire escape plans and the like. An empty building should never be left out of the equation.
Since the Grenfell Tower disaster, we have all been waiting for a government response that outlines specific fire safety changes that are practical and effective for fire safety regulations across the country and for all types of buildings. There are things that you can do as the owner (or person responsible for) of a building that sits empty most or all of the time.
Managing the fire risk in an empty building is as important as an occupied building. In some ways, it might be more important as there is not a person or persons present to witness the potential for fire and stop it before it breaks out. You need to comply with all fire safety regulations, as you would with any other building, as well as all other aspects of health and safety compliance. You have a duty of care to any person entering the building, and to protect an empty building from arson, criminal damage and theft.
Regular fire safety risk assessments should be carried out, as with any type of building. This will highlight any potential fire risks and help you to implement clear strategies to combat those risks. Fire alarms are a great start, providing an early warning should there be a fire at the building. This can be linked directly to the relevant people (and the emergency services depending on the building type) to get help to the situation as quickly as possible.
Other types of fire safety materials and equipment should also be present, including fire doors that are hefty and robust enough to act as a barrier to fire and smoke for as long a period as possible. This is important in an empty building, as it is likely that a fire will not be seen as quickly as an occupied building. In these instances, fire doors play a crucial role in preventing the spread of fire and smoke and the damage this would inevitably cause.
Putting in place effective fire safety plans for a building that you own or manage is an important part of your responsibilities. The way in which you implement fire safety strategies might be different if the building in question is empty, but it shouldn’t be any less of a priority. Fire doors for empty buildings and other types of fire safety precautions, processes and fire safety equipment should always be purchased and installed using the experience and knowledge of fire safety experts. With this advice and guidance you can ensure that your empty building is safe from fire damage. Always conduct a thorough evaluation of fire safety in a building that you are responsible for, whether it is empty or occupied.