Are your winter coats a fire risk?
In a recent court case in Wakefield, a school and a fire risk assessor have been fined. This was for a number of reasons, one of which, was the coat hooks lining the escape route.
National Guidance issued by the government deems Cloakrooms a ‘high risk’ area, due to the potential for rapid fire spread, so you need to make sure they’re not open to circulation spaces or a means of escape.
Coat fire safety checklist
It’s worth having a check. Below are some other things to look out for and consider, if you provide a cloakroom or not:
- Are they hanging on the back of chairs and do they lean onto heaters or radiators?
- Do any coat hooks overhang heaters or line your corridors?
- If you provide a cloakroom, does it open onto the escape corridor? If it does, will it require a self-closing fire door?
- Are clothing/bags left on the floor or tucked under desks? This could cause a trip hazard.
- If they’re hanging on doors, is it the fire escape door?
- Are they blocking your fire equipment?
- If you are an employer and you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be putting your employees at risk. Make sure you are being compliant and get a fire risk assessment for peace of mind.
Can you put hooks on fire doors?
No, you should not install hooks or encourage employees to hang clothes or bags on fire doors. This could mean they obstruct the door mechanism and prevent a quick escape.
Where should employees store their coats?
Now you know what not to do, here are some tips on what you should be doing to keep your business safe and compliant:
- Keep all coats and bags clear of escape routes. This is to ensure they don’t delay escape by blocking or causing a trip hazard.
- Keep them away from any ignition or heat sources such as portable heaters as they are combustible.
- If possible, provide a specific room for personal belongings, with a fire door or lockers away from the workplace.
- Make sure employees tuck any items carefully under their desk, to ensure they don’t get tangled in bag handles.
- Hanging coats on the back of chairs is fine, as long as they are off the floor.
- Where more than one escape route is available and depending on the findings of your risk assessment, a small coat rack may be acceptable if the minimum exit widths are maintained and the item presents a relatively low fire risk.
Fire Safety Checks For Businesses
One area assessed by a Fire risk assessment are your fire safety checks. Are they being carried out regularly and recorded. Fire safety checks will help you to ensure, that as you go through the year, the changes in seasonal attire which could lead to a fire hazard, will be picked up and can be managed.