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UK business leaders highlight complacency as major fire safety concern

15 February 2022

WITH EMPLOYEES encouraged to return to the workplace post-pandemic, new research conducted by fire safety specialist JLA has revealed that business leaders are most concerned about employee complacency relating to fire safety following instances of false fire alarms in the workplace.

According to the results of the nationally representative survey of 250 business owners, the biggest fear concerning false fire alarms across all of the sectors surveyed is the risk that members of staff would become complacent and not react to a real fire alarm episode either safely or with a great enough degree of urgency. This was the highest concern for 44% of respondents, in fact, duly suggesting that attitudes towards fire safety worryingly decline in organisations once false fire alarms have occurred too many times.

Carried out by JLA as part of its ‘False Fire Alarms’ campaign, the research reveals several concerns from business leaders, such as worries that the site would have to close in order to deal with the aftermath of a false alarm sounding. This was the highest concern for 30% of respondents, with loss of productivity among employees being a considerable concern for 38% of those businesses questioned.

In fact, this figure rises to 41% for hospitality businesses and 46% for office-based workers, suggesting that if false fire alarms sound, productivity is compromised, which can then lead to businesses being forced to shut their doors, losing out on revenue and potentially having to suffer the consequential damage to their reputation.

Risk management

In order to best prepare for the risk of a false alarm damaging productivity, businesses should:

*ensure effective and regular maintenance of all fire alarm equipment

*provide training for employees on how best to prevent false alarms

*ensure that employees know how to respond to a false fire alarm incident in order to minimise disruption to the business

Commenting on the research results, Peter Martin (operations director for fire and security at JLA) told Fire Safety Matters: “False fire alarms present a very real problem for employee productivity and efficiency and can have detrimental impacts in terms of how a business operates.”

Martin continued: “While these false fire alarms are viewed as a minor inconvenience for many, we know that this is often a big concern for business owners. Knowing how to respond to fire risks can be difficult, but looking for and then concentrating on the right fire-related services and training can ensure that concerns regarding false fire alarms will become a thing of the past.”

Further, Martin noted: “Human Resources teams can communicate to employees that fire safety training is absolutely crucial for all and is a legal requirement for organisations. If employees don’t have a thorough understanding of fire safety and evacuation procedures, this can pose a significant risk to their own safety, in addition to business continuity, if a fire does occur.”

Frequent training

According to Martin, frequent training can also be given to avoid this complacency and will ensure that all employees and businesses are as best prepared as possible to deal effectively with a fire should an alarm sound.

“While frustrating, false fire alarms are often a necessary reminder to employees of the right steps to take to safely evacuate and reach an area of safety,” concluded Martin. Combined with an emphasis on checking fire equipment and alarms, this will ensure minimal disruption and that the business can continue to operate as normal.”

*For more information concerning JLA’s research findings visit https://jla.com/blog/fire-safety/a-third-of-uk-businesses-are-failing-to-test-their-fire-alarms-as-often-as-legally-required/