A business owner’s guide to fire safety standards

This article seeks to demystify the nature of fire safety standards, explaining exactly what they are, why they shouldn’t be feared, and what to look out for

All businesses need to adhere to various safety standards and regulations – especially where fire safety is concerned. This much is known by anyone who owns their own business. But these regulations are often misunderstood as unnecessary restrictions, as frustrating (and expensive!) bureaucracy instead of as helpful, necessary measures laid out in order to keep people safe. With regards to fire safety standards, this misconception is also compounded by language that is often complicated and slightly confusing. This article seeks to demystify the nature of fire safety standards, explaining exactly what they are, why they shouldn’t be feared, and what to look out for. It has been written with the help of fire safety experts K&D Fire & Smoke Protection Systems, and the goal is to inform anyone who is slightly bamboozled by the world of fire safety standards.

What exactly are fire safety standards?

First off, they are not unknowable rules and regulations. They are the opposite. A fire safety standard is a document that details the specific rules and guidelines surrounding a specific piece of fire safety equipment, the installation of this equipment, or the requirement of this equipment in a domestic, commercial, or industrial setting. Put simply: it is a set of fire safety rules and advice everyone must adhere to. It is carefully deliberated quality control.

Fire safety standards aren’t arbitrarily created to give business owners a headache. They are there to make it easy for them to buy fire safety products that ensure their premises and their employees are correctly prepared in the case of a fire. To ensure that fire safety standards are relevant to real-world needs and risks, they are written by a group of people made up of government officials, independent researchers, and relevant consumers. All of these people work together and decide upon the basic fire safety standards for a range of products, such as fire extinguishers, fire and smoke curtains, fire shutters, etc.

Do you have to meet fire safety standards?

If you manufacture, sell, or install fire safety equipment you are required to meet fire safety standards. So, if you make products that are used to fight fire or are used to prevent/slow down the spread of fire, then there are certain standards you must meet. For more in-depth information about the specific standards you need to meet, should consider becoming a member of the British Standards Institution (BSI).

Conversely, if you are a business owner who is purchasing fire safety products or paying for the installation of fire safety products, make sure you ask for a fire safety certificate from your supplier. If they claim it is not their responsibility to supply a certificate, they are either misinformed or being intentionally deceitful.

What kinds of qualities do fire safety standards ensure?

Put as simply as possible, all fire safety standards are in place to ensure that a piece of fire safety equipment does what it is supposed to. With regards to fire curtains and smoke curtains, the standards require that they all be tested to ensure that they can resist and slow down the spread of fire for a minimum time limit (usually for 2 hours, but it depends on the conditions). What you should take away from this is that all the fully accredited fire safety equipment has been rigorously tested according to the most up-to-date standards. As the consumer, you are always perfectly entitled to query whether or not a product or service meets the most up-to-date safety standards and that you are presented with a legal certificate.

Whether it is for your own peace of mind, health-and-safety protocol, or insurance requirements, always make sure you ask a fire safety company to prove that their products meet the most recent safety standards. It is their responsibility to obtain these and to provide you (the consumer) with the relevant safety certificate.

I hope this article has helped demystify fire safety standards for any business owners keen to understand the topic. The language can be a little tricky around this area, but the principle is simple: any fire safety equipment you buy should do exactly what it’s supposed to, and to a high standard. Understanding fire safety standards should be a huge comfort to anyone who owns their own business and is dedicated to ensuring it is safe and secure for their employees. As long as you are careful to find reputable fire safety companies like K&D, then you can rest assured that your premises and your employees are as safe as possible.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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