How to ensure your commercial property is fire safe

By Anita Jaynes on 18 November, 2020

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Protecting property, employees, and tenants from a fire should be high on the priority list of any commercial property owner. Ensuring fire safety can be overwhelming, especially when there are a lot of people in the building. That said, there are a few things that commercial property owners and managers can do to ensure their buildings are fire safe.

Have Fire Safety Measures in Place

All commercial buildings are required to have fire detection systems in place. These include having working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Additionally, larger buildings should have sprinkler systems. These douse the area where a fire is detected in water to extinguish the fire. Advanced fire sprinkler systems can help ensure a fire does not spread to other parts of the building or get out of control.

A fire risk assessment must be carried out to identify any fire hazards, such as flammable materials stored in stairwells or blocked fire exits. 

Use the Right Materials

A common fire hazard for a lot of commercial properties is the use of materials that can catch fire quickly. This often happens when items such as exhibition stands and decorative furnishings are made out of flammable material, such as wood. Instead of using materials such as plywood and particle wood, commercial property owners should have policies in place to ensure all materials used can withstand fire.

Instead of using the materials mentioned above, business owners should be encouraged to use fire-rated medium density fibreboards (MDF). MDF is a relatively inexpensive material made by bonding wood fibre with resin and this is what gives it its fire-retardant properties. Companies like CNC Creations provide a service where Fire Rated MDF and Fire Rated panel products as per EN 13501-1 B-s2 and d0 classification, can be cut to size, plus a full design and manufacturing service for bespoke, custom-built, display units for use in shopping centres, retail environments, and other situations where fire-rated panel products are a requirement.

Install Fire Doors

A fire door is a small part of passive fire protection strategies. A fire door has a fire-resistance rating. It is designed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke to other parts of a building. Fire doors essentially create compartments where fires burn and hopefully burn out before the fire department arrives. Fire doors also allow enough time for people to get out of the building.

To ensure the fire door can be closed quickly, it should be unobstructed at all times and should not be used as an exit unless there is a fire. To work effectively, fire doors should also be supported with appropriate fire-resistant structures, including the door frame and hardware.

Fire doors work well with other passive firefighting strategies such as fire-resistant floors, walls, and coated structures such as metal beams.

In buildings where a fire is a bigger risk than normal, such as cinemas, schools, colleges, hospitals, and nightclubs, extra care should be taken to install fire retardant products, such as flame retardant panels and intumescent fireproof paint.

Fire is a devastating force and every property owner or manager is advised to ensure their building is fire safe. If a property owner or manager cannot prevent a fire from breaking out, they must at least have measures in place to ensure it does not do too much harm.