Businesses urged to minimise demands on Devon and Somerset’s fire service during coronavirus crisis

Fire engine

Fire engine - Credit: Archant

The fire service is urging communities to reduce demands on public services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said the situation regarding coronavirus is ‘unprecedented’ and many businesses will be faced with challenges they have never encountered before.

The service has now asked businesses to keep fire doors closed and look after their automatic fire alarms to ensure firefighters are not tasked to any unnecessary callouts.

A spokesman said: “We are aware that many people are propping open fire doors to prevent staff from having to touch door handles.

“Fire doors should not be propped open. Instead of doing this you should follow government advice about handwashing and good hygiene.”

The service urged businesses to review their fire risk assessments and evacuation plans to reflect any changes in staffing levels.

It has also listed fire precautions businesses should adhere to:

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Ensure your escape routes are kept clear of obstructions and available for use at all times.

Keep up with fire alarm tests and maintenance requirements.

Be aware of the increase of potential combustible items stored where stock is not being moved or waste materials are not being collected.

Consider the increased risk from arson resulting from the accumulation/ spread of stored goods and waste.

The spokesman said: “Where staff with key fire safety responsibilities are absent, consider how those duties and functions can still be met.

“This may include the roles of fire marshals, safety officers, and maintenance staff.

“Certain staff may be working in new areas or undertaking roles that they are not familiar with.

“You must ensure that your general fire precautions are not affected by this.”

The service said businesses should looks after their automatic fire alarms because false alarms result in 450 calls a month.

The spokesman said: “This impacts on our ability to attend other incidents.

“With the current situation around coronavirus, these false alarms put staff and members of the public at risk by bringing them together to respond.”

Businesses should try and do the following:

Continuing weekly fire tests.

Keeping in touch with their fire alarm engineer to ensure they are able to continue to maintain their system and provide emergency cover in the event of a fault.

Ensure they have a plan to suitably address and deal with any automatic false alarms, to prevent unnecessary calls to the fire service.