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Fire Protection And Fire Prevention In The Workplace

Jul 28, 2023 | Fire Safety

Fire prevention in the workplace

What is the difference between fire protection and fire prevention in the workplace?

Most people have a fundamental understanding of the devastation that fire can cause. It can destroy lives and livelihoods, damaging property, and causing unimaginable injury. That’s why fire safety is such an integral part of running any business. And to safeguard your employees, your customers, and your assets, you need to have both fire prevention and fire protection equipment and procedures in place.

But what is the difference between fire prevention and fire protection? And what can you do to make sure that your workplace is as safe as it possibly can be?

Understanding the difference between fire prevention and fire protection


Fire prevention in the workplace

What is fire prevention?

Fire prevention refers to the systems employed to reduce a building’s susceptibility to fire. This includes everything from the building’s construction, to the way that you use the workspace.

According to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO), as a business owner, you have a responsibility to ensure that your workplace is as fire safe as it possibly can be*. If you own the building, this means effectively managing any fire risks associated with its core structure. This includes the walls, roof, doors, and windows, as well as all internal features. If you occupy the property, as a business owner, you are responsible for ensuring that all fire safety precautions are taken within the building.

This can include making sure that:

  • Fire doors aren’t just in place, but in use.
  • Any combustible materials are adequately stored.
  • Potential ignition points, such as plug sockets and heating systems, are safely deployed and used.
  • A no-smoking policy is observed.

These things should all be covered by your Fire Risk Assessment, which you should be conducting on a monthly basis.

* It is worth noting that if you rent your business premises, your landlord is responsible for ensuring that all communal areas – shared stairwells, full building fire alarm systems) are compliant with UK legislation.


What is fire protection

What is fire protection?

You can take all the precautions in the world, but sometimes accidents do happen, and fires do break out. That’s when your fire protection systems will come into their own.

The aim of fire protection is to save lives and reduce damage to property. And it loosely falls into two categories. Active and passive fire protection.


Active fire protection

As the title implies, active fire protection involves measures that react in the event of a fire. This might be an alarm system signalling the presence of smoke. Emergency lighting and sprinkler systems kicking in, in the event of a fire alarm being triggered. Or the use of fire extinguishers to quench an ignited flame. They all require an action for them to become active.

Passive fire protection

Passive fire protection refers to the structural measures that you can take within your workplace to prevent a fire from spreading once it has been ignited. And there are various things that you can do to that end.


Fire retardant paint

Known within the trade as intumescent paint, fire retardant paint can be applied to steel frames within the structure of the property to help protect them against fire damage. This not only hinders the spread of a fire, but helps to reduce structural degradation, by adding around two hours to the amount of time it will take before significant damage occurs.

In smaller buildings, this could make the difference between repairable and irreparable damage. In larger buildings, it could mean the difference between a full, safe evacuation, and loss of life.


Fire resistant furnishings

This one crosses over with fire prevention, partly. But fire-resistant furnishings, such as fire doors, as well as the selection of non-flammable items, such as seating, desks, flooring, window coverings, can contribute to the fire prevention strategy of your workplace.


Fire stopping and compartmentation

This refers to structural alterations that you can make to improve the fire safety of your building. Compartmentation can help to prevent the spread of fire, through separating your building into compartments. Each one protected by fireboards, which absorb heat rather than conduct it. Firestopping works on a similar principle, by filling any structural cavities with non-flammable/fire retardant material. This again, naturally slows the spread of fire, helping to prevent excessive damage and giving occupants more time to safely leave the premises.


Fire prevention you can do

Five things you can do now to ensure the best fire protection and prevention strategy for your business


  1. Conduct a fire risk assessment. All businesses should conduct fire risk assessments on a regular basis. This is the best way to ensure that you have the equipment you need, and that it’s where it should be, and functioning as it should be. That you team know what to do in the event of a fire. And that your working environment is hazard-free. An annual professional fire risk assessment can be sensible.
  2. Train your team in fire safety. Fire safety training is a legal requirement if you run a business that employs at least one other person. But beyond legalities, it’s also one of the easiest ways to ensure that your workplace – and the people in – are as safe as possible.
  3. Ensure that your fire alarm system is fit for purpose. A fire alarm system is only of use if it is fully functioning, professionally installed, and well-maintained. Keeping on top of your fire alarm maintenance can literally make the difference between life and death. You can read more about your legal requirements here.
  4. Install the right fire extinguishers. All businesses should have at least one fire extinguisher on their premises. But it’s really important that you select the right fire extinguishers for your needs. If unsure, ask the experts.
  5. Implement as many fire protection and prevention tactics as you can. Install emergency lighting. Use fire doors. Store hazardous materials carefully. Remove unnecessary hazards.


Fire protection and prevention may have different remits. But they share a united purpose. They’re there to keep your business and your team safe. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your fire safety strategy is complete.


1st Class Fire Protection offers a full range of fire safety services for businesses and landlords across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge and the surrounding areas. To find out how we could help you, please get in touch with 1st Class Fire Protection today either on 01603 742741 or request a call back with our expert team.

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