Fire safety for animal facilities
Working at any business which involves animals can be highly rewarding, but like any other place of business there are fire safety risks which must be considered and dealt with.
The best way to ensure your animal facility remains safe – be it stables or other small animal holdings – is to implement a fire risk assessment.
This involves 5 key areas:
- Identification of hazards
- Identification of people at risk
- Evaluate, remove and reduce risks
- Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at how each of these steps can be implemented by anyone operating animal facilities, ensuring that staff and any visitors on your premises can be made as safe as possible from the risk of fire.
Identification of hazards
It’s important to remember that a fire requires three elements to begin: source of ignition, fuel and oxygen.
When it comes to ignition source, you should identify whether the following pose a risk on your site:
- Naked flames
- Gases or fuels
- Hot surfaces
- Cooking equipment
- Burning waste piles
- Heating equipment
Some sources of fuel commonly found in animal facilities can include:
- Bedding (including hay and wood shavings)
- Flammable chemicals (including dressage products)
- Soft furnishings (including blankets and curtains)
- Fuel for vehicles
- Hydraulic oils
- Packaging materials
Oxygen is in the air all around us, making it hard to eliminate this portion of the fire triangle when running animal facilities. However, it’s important to be aware that with any outdoor premises, the risk of a fire is greater in high winds as more oxygen will be supplied rapidly to spread any fires which break out.
Those running equine facilities may also have oxygen cylinders as a source of oxygen from time to time, something which should be factored into any risk assessment.
Identification of people at risk
When it comes to identifying the people at risk in animal facilities, it is not just the staff you need to consider. There is a long list of people you must ensure you factor into any evacuation plans, even if they are not always on site. These include:
- Cleaning staff
- Security staff
- Veterinary staff
- Maintenance staff
In addition to the number of different people, you must also take into account where they will be based. Are they in isolated spaces? Can you evacuate anyone with a disability easily and comfortably?
Finally, animal facilities must also identify animals that would be at risk from a fire, either directly or indirectly, making it easier to plan evacuations.
Evaluate, remove and reduce risks
There are two risks to investigate when performing a fire risk assessment for animal facilities: the risk of a fire occurring and the risk to people and animals.
Take a look at your premises with a critical eye, can you reduce the risk of a fire occurring by tackling the following?:
- Accidental fires where any fires, flames or cigarettes are not properly put out.
- Negligent fires where electrical equipment isn’t maintained or where flammable materials and liquids are left near heat sources and flames.
- Deliberate fires where an arson attack has been carried out using contents in and around your building.
In order to evaluate the risk to people and animals, you will need to consider the following:
- Where the fire has started – is it on another level of the building or on the ground floor where the exits are?
- Where people and animals are located – are they in isolated areas?
- Will a fire and smoke spread quickly through the building because fire doors are left open?
Once you have observed these risks in your assessment, you can make the steps to either reduce or remove the hazard. Reduce the risk of fire through proper maintenance and installation and remove the hazard by separating potential fuel and ignition items or clearing evacuation routes of any blockages.
Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
After making changes to your facilities, it is important to follow this up with recording, planning and informing in regards to any fire risk assessment carried out. You will also need to train staff to handle different emergency scenarios to ensure they are prepared for any type of fire.
Keeping a log of hazards each time you carry out the assessment will ensure you can tackle recurring problems and identify areas for improvement.
All businesses go through changes from time to time, so whether it’s the people on site or the premises themselves which change, you should review you fire safety practices to keep people and animals safe at your facilities.
If you’re unsure about whether you need a fire risk assessment at your site, or you’d like a free quote for an assessment from a professional, simply contact Elite Fire today. We provide thorough fire risk assessments and advice for every industry, including for animal facilities like stables, veterinary practices, zoos, kennels and catteries.