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Recent statistics from the Department of Communities and Local Government reveal that England�s fire fatality rate lowered by 14 percent in 2013Recent statistics from the Department of Communities and Local Government reveal that England’s fire fatality rate lowered by 14 percent in 2013. In fact, the dramatic decline in fire fatalities has been continuously experienced since 2001. There are two possible reasons for this trend: increased awareness on fire hazards and prevention; and constant improvement of fire protection systems.

Besides causing injury and fatality, fire can burn down assets and sources of livelihood. For businesses, particularly shops and department stores, even a small fire can mean huge losses in sales due to downtime, and even greater losses if the fire affects inventory. A well-defined fire protection system carefully assessed by leading fire safety services in the U.K. can help prevent fire and therefore safeguard a business’s assets and bottom line.

In an article on FireSafe.org, common causes of fire accidents in shops and department stores are identified.

“Carelessly discarded smoking materials especially if it is allowed to come into contact with flammable items. A lighted cigarette end could take a long time to ignite the item, at which time the premise could be unoccupied. Use signage and constantly broadcast the dangers to the staff. A no smoking policy should be adopted throughout the store with designated smoking areas for staff and as a result these areas can be supervised closely.

Electrical Appliances can be a source of fire if they have been subjected to misuse and occasionally, electrical faults can occur on apparatus, usually because they have not been serviced regularly. All electrical equipment should be tested annually and keep the staff informed of the possible dangers associated with the different types of equipment.”

The examples and tips provided by FireSafe.org suggest that fire accidents in shops and department stores can be caused by negligence, arson, and poor building design. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to get a thorough fire risk assessment and put formal safety policy and procedures in place. During a fire risk assessment, the company building’s structural design will be inspected for fire hazards, and a plan to mitigate or eliminate these hazards may be created.

Excellent fire risk assessors like those at Help and Safety at Work Ltd use the latest fire safety standards to provide the most effective recommendations on improving fire safety in retail establishments. The recommendations may include adding quality fire extinguishers, installing fire alarm systems, and re-establishing a fire escape. The assessor may also provide training programs to educate business owners and managers on the prevention of casualties and injuries during a fire.

(Source: Shops and Departmental Stores, firesafe.org.uk)