6 fire-safety tips for keeping office employees safe

October 11, 2017

Sign up to free email newsletters


The 2022 State of Physical Access Control Report

Fire safety is something that all office environments should take seriously, not just for the benefit of the people who work there, but also because it’s a legal requirement for businesses to assess the risks and ensure suitable steps are taken to reduce the likelihood of fire.

If you’re an employer or manager, then fireproofing your office should be a high priority – but what do you need to consider?

This video is a helpful summary of the six things to consider:

1. Check your electrics. If you work in an office then you’re likely to work amongst a lot of electrical equipment, including computers, photocopiers, printers, telephones and desk lamps etc. But did you know that electrical equipment poses one of the greatest risks to fire safety?

Be sure to minimise the risks from electricity by regularly checking equipment for damage, ensuring equipment is used correctly by employees and removing faulty equipment from use straight away.

2. Test your fire detection/warning systems regularly. All offices must have a fire detection and warning system in place, but how often do you confirm that these are working correctly? Make sure that you test your smoke alarms at least once a month, and carry out frequent tests of the fire alarm to ensure that it functions correctly and can be heard by everyone around the office.


3. Keep an eye on emergency escape routes. By law, your office must have a way of taking people from the premises to a place of safety outside in case of fire. This may just be down the main office staircase, or you may have an external fire escape or a designated corridor that can only be used in the event of a fire.

But when was the last time you checked the escape route? Can people use it safely or has the corridor become obstructed with chairs, plants or other objects? Your emergency escape routes must be accessible at all times so good housekeeping is vital.

4. Appoint a competent fire warden. Does your office have a dedicated person who has responsibility for fire safety? There are numerous fire warden duties that could lead to serious consequences if ignored, so it’s essential that the appointed person takes the role seriously (and doesn’t just see it as a fun ‘title’ that they’d like to have).

Fire wardens must be trained so they are confident to maintain the evacuation plan, carry out a fire risk assessment and ensure fire-fighting equipment is present and correct.

5. Safe smoke breaks. Whether you have a designated space outside, or simply ask people to head away from the building, are your employees aware of the fire safety risks that accompany that mid-morning cigarette break?

Make sure that workers know to take care when smoking, specifically when discarding smoking materials that could easily set light to flammable materials nearby, such as dry leaves, papers and textiles in rubbish bins or spilled petrol in the carpark. It only takes one small accident or act of carelessness to cause major damage.

6. Educate employees. In the UK, recent statistics from the Home Office suggest that 76% of primary fires are caused accidentally, mostly as a result of people misusing equipment and appliances, careless handling or smoking materials. If all of the people involved in these cases had been properly educated on the importance of fire safety, would this statistic be so high?

It’s essential that all employees are trained in fire safety so they understand how to identify hazards, how to prevent them and what to do should a fire break out in the workplace. Even if your office has all possible plans, procedures, signs and equipment in place, it’s unlikely to be effective if employees don’t understand their responsibilities.

Fire Safety in 2021 eBook – Is the industry ready to embrace systemic change?

Download the Fire Safety in 2021 eBook, as IFSEC Global and FIREX International keep you up to date with the biggest stories of the year, including new legislation, a round-up of the biggest news stories, and articles on third-party certification and the role of digital information software in meeting golden thread principles.

The eBook also features an exclusive foreword from the Fire Industry Association's Ian Moore, and a look at how the sector embraces systemic change in attitudes to risk and safety.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
December 8, 2016 2:24 pm

It is crucial to maintain your fire equipment and training of staff within any company. Its amazing how many modern company that have fire hazards. If you are looking for a risk assessment of your commercial property I would advise using the following – https://www.fsssouth.co.uk/fire-risk-assessments/

Zequek Estrada
Zequek Estrada
April 6, 2017 6:45 pm

I actually didn’t know that you were supposed to check your fire alarm at least once a month. That’s something I usually put on the back burner and forget about. However, this makes a great point why it’s important to make sure that we maintain and check up on any fire equipment in the home or office.

Heidi Bookenstock
Heidi Bookenstock
May 15, 2018 6:20 pm

We recently had a fire safety review in the office where I work and it made me want to do some further research. Beyond fire sprinklers, I hadn’t thought at all about what would happen in the event of a fire. It’s such a great idea to appoint an office Fire Warden who is trained to carry out an evacuation plan.

Jenna Hunter
Jenna Hunter
January 30, 2020 1:20 am

I can understand how it could be really useful for a business to make sure that they have a plan for a fire in case something happens. It could also be really useful for them to get a fire extinguisher from a professional so that they can protect themselves. It was interesting to learn about how training employees can help outline their responsibilities and help them be effective and safe.


[…] better that everyone in your office is trained about fire safety, the more likely it is that they will be able to take care of themselves and each other in a fire […]