Business safety

Cost of living

Steps to #StayFireSafe

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service urges local businesses and building owners to take steps to 'Stay Fire Safe' to protect themselves, employees, and visitors from the risk of fire.  

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is supporting the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC) Stay Fire Safe campaign to make business and building owners aware of their fire safety responsibilities and to ensure staff have information to help prevent and respond to fires in the workplace.  

The call comes following concerns that the rising cost of living will mean that business owners may look to alternative ways of heating and lighting premises in a bid to cut the cost of rising bills.  

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service is advising local businesses to review their fire risk assessment if any changes are made to their premises and how it is used.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

I'm considering changing how I heat my premises to save money due to rising energy bills - what do I need to be aware of to protect my premises? 

Businesses, especially small to medium sized ones, may avoid using central heating and look to use portable heaters and small open fires in the spaces they use. Portable heaters are not restricted to electric heaters and can present additional risks so must be considered.   

Portable heaters    

  • People may use devices that have not been used for several years, or have had stored away for emergencies, such as when central heating has needed repair. Check that your heater is not subject to a product recall or repair.      
  • Heaters must not be placed where they will block an escape route or have the potential risk to cause a fire, e.g. under desks, or congested spaces.      
  • Plug electric heaters into a wall socket not an extension lead, as they can easily be overloaded and cause fires. They must only be moved when they have been switched off and have cooled down.    
  • Only use a heater in rooms they are designed to be used in. Standard portable heaters (gas and electric) must not be used in shower or bathrooms. Portable gas heaters must not be used in rooms used for sleeping and should only be used in well ventilated rooms.     
  • Never install, repair, or service appliances yourself. Make sure anyone who does so is registered with the Gas Safe Register (for gas appliances), the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS) (for solid fuel appliances), or the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) (for oil appliances), or a qualified electrician for electric heaters.    
  • Make sure gas, paraffin, and LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) cylinders are stored safely outside in a secure location and out of direct sunlight. Make sure you change cylinders for portable heaters in a well-ventilated place and away from sources of heat and ignition.     
  • Second-hand heaters should be avoided. If you need to buy one, however, check it closely for damage an if in any doubt avoid it. Make sure it is made by a manufacturer you recognise and if the seller cannot provide the instruction manual look online and download a copy. This will ensure you know how to use the heater correctly and can reduce the risk of fire.     


Outdoor heaters   

Outdoor heaters must not be used indoors. They can produce a lot of heat which would be a fire risk in the confined space of a premises, but they also produce carbon monoxide which can be fatal.     

The rise in living costs means I need to reduce the number of staff. What fire protection considerations do I need to factor in? 

Responsible persons should ensure that the premises' fire risk assessment reflects the added risk a reduction in staff poses. Where businesses are operating with fewer staff, this could mean that current processes may no longer be able to be carried out safely, increasing the risk of fire. Similarly, a reduction in staff may result in employees not being able to successfully carry out evacuations and emergency procedures, such as in-house fire response or fire warden duties.       

Employers should continue to undertake and review their Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) and Generic Emergency Evacuation Plans (GEEPs) for relevant persons. Procedures should be reviewed so that they accurately reflect the staff available. Such reviews must carefully weigh the risks from fire and the ability of such businesses to operate safely.   

I'm considering reducing or limiting energy use on my premises to save money due to rising energy bills - what do I need to be aware of?

Introducing a policy to reduce or limit energy usage may have an impact on your fire safety measures operating effectively. For example, the operation of automatic fire detection systems, emergency lighting, automatic door hold-open devices, smoke control devices and automatic ventilation systems, and sprinklers systems could be affected.   

Ensure that suitable back-up systems, such as battery backup systems, are in safely place to support the reduction of energy usage. Ensure checks are in place so that fire safety systems have restarted correctly and are operating as they should.   

In addition to checking fire safety systems, you ensure that other equipment that stops during power cuts restarts safely and does not pose a fire risk when doing so, especially if restarting whilst unsupervised. This may also affect the use of medical equipment and storage of some medicines (for example - in care homes, GP surgeries, hospitals, or day care facilities).   

What steps can I take to prevent energy theft/meter tampering on my premises?

Business and building owners should be aware of the potential for hot wiring or bypassing electrical and gas supplies undertaken by others. You can find information and resources on the dedicated Stay Energy Safe campaign website.

I have a different question, where can I find out more?

You can find out more about business fire safety on the NFCC website. 

Please contact (depending on your location) if you have any questions: