The health and safety requirements for businesses in Ireland are as rigid as any other nation, whether taking on the complex construction process of designing and building new residential developments or the critical management of chemicals in manufacturing plants.
Whilst the Health and Safety legislation mitigates most hazards, the chance of unintentional consequences caused by human error or negligence remains.
Fires can happen anywhere, at any time and any scale. Just a single spark can initiate a fire that engulfs a facility within minutes.
Given the potential threat to human life, the extinguishing of jobs and businesses and the destruction of property and assets, it is no wonder corporates are becoming more conscious of the realities of fire devastation.
And their concerns are not unfounded. You only have to look at the last two years’ headlines in Ireland alone to see the devastating impact fire can have on businesses.
‘Basically everything’ lost in horror Glenisk factory fire, director says
The blaze broke out at the Glenisk factory near Tullamore on Monday morning
“Large fire at furniture business in New Ross”
“Major fire brought under control by firefighters from Wexford and Waterford.”
“Factory fire in Carlow extinguished”
It’s not just supply chains feeling the burn
The latest CIPS Research shows that across the globe, blazes in manufacturing plants have grown year on year. According to the CIPS research released in January 2023, the top five industries likely to experience fires are Automotive, Manufacturing, Food and Beverage, Aerospace and Life Sciences.
Whilst this global study focuses on the impact of fire on the supply chain, it also highlights the knock-on effect of commercial losses.
A researcher from the study organiser, Resilinc, explained: “A case study of an incident in October 2020 found a three-day fire at a semiconductor manufacturing plant shut down production lines for around six months – leaving procurement teams “scrambling”. This cost sourcing organisations “tens of millions of dollars”.”
Paranoia is, indeed, spreading like wildfire. Corporates have awoken to the after-burn of these blazes – more so than ever as designated fire representatives are held responsible.
Section 37 of the Fire Services Act, after all, notes: “There is a duty on the person in control of premises to take all reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire on the premises and to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable the safety of persons on the premises in the event of a fire.”
What simple steps can corporates take to mitigate the risk of loss through fire?
As human error is one of the significant risk factors, we advise our clients to follow the principles of the Plan, Do, Act and Review (PDCA) for fireproofing and suppression. The PDCA is a quality methodology endorsed by the International Organization for Standardization.
The Review step, in particular, is gravely important. In our view, all too often, organisations ask fire companies to undertake fire prevention installation plans but rarely appoint them to manage maintenance and monitoring. And yet, this aspect is just as burningly crucial as the installation itself.
As a leading provider of fire prevention, detection and suppression services, Sharp Group provides fire suppression systems to a range of facilities across sectors – with customers spanning from logistics to industrial parks, supermarkets to pharma facilities and data centres.
Here are the most common four points we ask our clients to consider and which we urge all organisations to ignite an interest in:
Install and maintain
Installation is just step one. A fire safety management strategy must cover all risk elements thereafter, including regular testing of the fire safety equipment to the management, and ongoing monitoring and maintenance of your fire safety procedures. In some instances, we offer 24/7 monitoring, providing added reassurance to those clients with high-risk facilities.
Educate your team on fire prevention.
Do they know the fire evacuation plan? How to use a fire extinguisher or fire blanket? How to extinguish a fire? Do you have a Fire Representative or designated person? These are just a sample of questions that are a legal requirement by the Health and Safety Authority, which emphasises: “Everything reasonably practicable must be done to ensure that all individuals at the workplace are not exposed to risks to their safety and health.”
Risk assessments should not be left on the shelf
Regularly reviewing your risk assessment is best practice, especially when you make building infrastructure changes. Otherwise, you run the risk of relying on systems and procedures that are no longer fit for purpose, putting your business – and even lives – in danger.
Is your fire detection equipment and suppression solutions effective?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, which is why we undertake fire risk audits for each client, proposing bespoke suppression strategies that suit the level of risk. The quality of our systems is just as important as the quality of our audits. Sharp Group work with the globe’s leading vendors, enabling us to equip our clients with the most innovative, effective technology and equipment.
Fire safety is more than just the drill!
Without ongoing maintenance and monitoring, organisations risk adding fuel to the flames – both proverbially in the form of regulatory scrutiny and literally in their inability to effectively detect and suppress fire hazards.
Thankfully, by rekindling their focus on systems maintenance, companies can smother potential fire risks before they turn into unthinkable blazes.
Fireproof your business today. Discover more about our fire and maintenance services.