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Top ten tips for retail fire safety

Based on our experience of carrying out the installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems within leading retailers such as Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason and M&S Simply food stores, Tecserv has put together our list of the top ten tips for fire safety in retail.

These tips are aimed at staff who work in retail:

  1. Understand your fire safety policy: Talk to your fire safety officer and understand what is involved and know the basics of how to do a fire risk assessment so that you can help them and keep your work area fire safety compliant.
  2. Know your fire equipment: The person or persons responsible for fire safety should ensure your fire alarm system, smoke detectors and other fire equipment such as sprinklers and fire extinguishers and fire blankets are regularly maintained. Take time to ensure this is done and acquaint yourself with the location of these devices so that should a fire break out you know where they are and how to use them.
  3. Evacuation routes: Make sure you know where your escape routes are and make it part of your role to ensure fire exits are never blocked.
  4. Fire drills: Understand the audible and non-audible alarms your fire detectors will emit and the ensure you have been involved in a fire drill so that you know what to do in the event of a fire and can get yourself and customers to safety.
  5. Stockrooms: Remove any empty boxes and other combustible items and ensure stock is not stacked too close to heat sources such as lighting or heaters. Ensure packaging waste is stored in a safe area away from fire risk and malicious acts of vandalism or arson.
  6. Smoking: If you smoke and there is a designated smoking area, be vigilant and ensure all cigarettes are completely extinguished and butt-ends placed in a suitable receptacle.
  7. Cooking: Take care in the staff room or canteen when using electrical appliances.
  8. Space: A crowded shop is good for sales, but a nightmare for fire safety. If customers are jostling for space, or queuing for escalators or lifts, there are probably too many people in the store to safely evacuate. Customer safety is part of your responsibility whilst they are in your building so good fire safety management is important. If you think safety is being compromised – report it!
  9. Maintain and test: A regime of periodic fire alarm testing and maintenance is a legal requirement to ensure compliance with Fire safety regulations. To create a good safety culture, regular tests of the fire safety systems and equipment should be implemented and recorded. Do not be afraid to question management if you think this is not occurring.
  10. Be alert: It’s easy to think someone else will deal with it – if you see something that may compromise fire safety – even if it is not directly related to your store – report it to your fire safety officer. Building works or other disruptions to roads and other premises around you may have a knock on effect. Better to be safe than sorry!

When a fire breaks out the fast and trained response from those immediately involved can make such a difference. The speed at which the fire alarm sounds and the fire service called can save lives and limit damage.

Only use a fire extinguisher if it is safe to do so in order to aid your speedy exit from the building – the number one responsibility of a responsible individual is to get yourself, your colleagues and your customers evacuated to safety in a controlled and organised manner.

If you would like to discuss fire safety in retail and how Tecserv can hope your retail operation can improve its fire and security systems, or would like to ensure your system maintenance and recording keeping are compliant, please get in touch or complete the enquiry form below.


Mick Brooke

Mick has over 30 years experience working within the Fire and Security industry. Starting as an installation engineer and quickly progressing into both operational and sales management roles.

Posted on: 10 July 2023
Last updated: 5 March 2024
Posted in: Advice, FAQs, News
Author: Mick Brooke