Why it's Vital to Keep Fire Escape Routes Clear This Festive Season – and Other Helpful Fire Safety Tips

In the workplace, the festive season will often bring changes. From putting up decorations to storing extra stock and taking on temporary seasonal staff, this is a time when fire safety risks are heightened. These factors make it essential to review fire risk assessments to identify new fire hazards at this time of year.

All owners of non-domestic premises in England and Wales must, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, take steps to prevent fires, and to protect visitors and employees against death and injury in the event of a fire.

It is a legal requirement under the Order to carry out a fire safety risk assessment and, when things change, such as during the festive season, an assessment review is important to cover the new risks that are present.

Photo of the fire exit by Ivy.D Design on Unsplash

There are five key steps to fire risk assessments

These are:

  1. Identify fire hazards
  2. Identify people at risk
  3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks
  4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide fire safety training
  5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly – including when things change, such as during the festive season

It's important to pay particular attention to training temporary or seasonal staff in fire safety procedures. All staff working during the festive season need to be aware of the emergency routes and assembly points, even if they're only staying for a short time.

Also make sure that extra festive footfall doesn't see you exceed the recommended occupancy limits for your premises that have been identified in your fire safety risk assessment.

Storing additional stock this Christmas?

If you are storing extra stock in the lead up to Christmas, this will need to be considered by your fire safety risk assessment. It is vital that all means of escape, including doors and stairways, are kept clear and unobstructed. Any additional goods and excess or waste packaging must not be allowed to reduce widths in these areas, even if it's temporary.

When bringing in extra stock, you should make sure you have a safe place to store it without blocking the means of escape or any fire doors, and without encroaching on any fire doors, which must be kept clear and, in the case of internal fire doors, closed.

It's also essential that you don't wedge internal fire doors open to accommodate extra stock, and make sure that you don't stack up anything too close to sources of ignition, such as lighting and heaters.

Take care not to block smoke detectors or sprinkler heads too, as this could affect the way they operate.

Fire escape signage, firefighting equipment, emergency lighting, break glass call points, fire alarm sounders and emergency isolation points must also be kept clear.

In terms of waste packaging, it's vital that this is disposed of safely and correctly, and not stacked up outside the premises where it could potentially fuel an arson attack.

Putting up Christmas decorations?

Your fire safety risk assessment should also be reviewed to cover Christmas decorations. As with extra festive season stock, the likes of Christmas trees and lights should not obstruct or encroach on any of your fire safety measures.

Have electrical decorations checked

Be aware that Christmas decorations may increase the fire loading and fire risk in your premises. Decorative lights should be checked by a qualified person to ensure they are safe to use, and you should make sure they meet current British Safety standards.

Switch off overnight

Always switch off and unplug festive lights when the premises are unoccupied, as leaving anything electrical switched on for prolonged periods can pose the risk of overheating, which is a major fire risk. Also make sure you're not overloading sockets and extension cables, and check the wattage of each individual appliance, always sticking to the 'one plug per socket' rule.

Water real Christmas trees regularly

Finally, if you're putting up a real Christmas tree, make sure you keep it well watered. The average six foot high Christmas tree can drink up to two litres of water per day. Trees therefore need to be watered daily, not just to keep them fresh, but also to prevent them drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

Dried out Christmas trees can engulf a space in flames within seconds, whereas watered trees tend to have confined and controllable flames which can be more easily extinguished.

Bearing in mind that there are around 49 Christmas tree fires each year in the UK, this really is very important advice, so be sure to factor your Christmas tree into your seasonal fire safety risk assessment review.

Looking for fire risk assessment providers in Cumbria, Penrith, Kendal or Carlisle?

Here at BPW Fire Safety, our experienced and qualified fire safety specialists and fire risk assessment providers are ready to help keep your premises safe and compliant this festive season and beyond with a full range of fire risk assessment services.

For a tailored quote at competitive rates for fire risk assessments Cumbria, Penrith, Kendal and Carlisle wide, contact BPW Fire Safety today.


Ash Grove, Alexandra Road
Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 9AN

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