Fire Safety

Last reviewed on 11/05/2016 10:16

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Fire is one of the greatest threats to a business. It can start almost anywhere and can destroy everything in its path. You can never be too careful when it comes to preventing a fire in the workplace.

The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 has replaced almost all previous fire safety legislation (similar legislation has also been introduced in England & Wales). The Act places responsibilities on occupiers or those in control of non-domestic premises. It requires there to be a Responsible Person to address fire safety. The main duties placed on the Responsible Person are to:

  • carry out a fire risk assessment
  • identify the fire safety measures required as a result of your assessment
  • use risk reduction principles to implement the safety measures
  • ensure that ongoing control and reviews of the fire safety measures are carried out
  • comply with any additional fire safety regulations
  • keep the assessment under review and keep relevant records.

What causes a fire?

The main causes of fire in the workplace include:

  • electricity – neglect or misuse of wiring, leading to short circuits, etc.
  • rubbish and waste material – fire is likely to spread through accumulated waste
  • smoking – carelessly discarded cigarette butts or lit matches are one of the major causes of fire, both at work and at home
  • cooking – kitchens in offices provide both opportunities for the fire to start and materials on which it can feed
  • heating appliances – portable heaters are a threat when placed besides combustible furniture, fittings, etc.
  • combustible materials – flammable liquids, glues and solvents are all liable to combust unless stored and used properly. Hazardous materials such as paints, solvents, adhesive, chemicals should be included in this category
  • arson/wilful fire-raising is a major cause of fires in workplaces. Make sure you consider measures to reduce the likelihood and severity of a deliberate fire.

Managing fire

There are basically four types of fire extinguisher, all of which work by removing one of the elements of the 'Fire Triangle' - oxygen, fuel and heat.

Foam, powder and carbon dioxide extinguishers smother the fire and deprive it of oxygen, while a water extinguisher removes the heat. You must always remind your staff that an extinguisher should only be used by someone who knows what to do. The best advice is to get out of the premises and inform the Fire Brigade as soon as possible.

Fire risk assessment

Almost all workplaces, with very few exceptions, must have completed a fire risk assessment and produced a fire safety action plan. A completed assessment is something your local Fire Prevention Officer will ask to see if they visit your premises.


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Risk assessment - guidance (PDF 253 KB)

Risk assessment template - short version (PDF 75.80 KB)

Risk assessment template - long version (PDF 107 KB)

Risk assessment - completed example - Printers (PDF 112 KB)

Risk assessment - completed example -Hotel (PDF 109 KB)

→ Visit our page on Fire

Visit the Scottish Government Fire Law website (external site)