Businesses across Tyne and Wear are being urged to check they are safe from the risks of fire as they re-open and make necessary changes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes as part of the launch of Business Fire Safety Week, a campaign promoted by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) which runs from 7-13 September.
The week encourages all businesses to double check they have taken the necessary steps required by law to protect their business, employees and the public from fire.
Advice will also be given on preventing the most common causes of fire, and how businesses can stay fire safe as well as COVID-19 secure.
The aim is to encourage businesses to work with fire and rescue services, to make sure they are complying with the law and reduce their risk of fire, especially in response to the recent challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes that have had to be made to premises and working practices.
As lockdown measures have eased and more people return to work, there may a corresponding increase in the fire safety risk. COVID-19 secure measures which are required to open some premises and may in some cases, compromise the fire safety measures in and around the premises.
Ian Bell Head of Business Fire Safety at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: "We work with businesses all year round, supporting them in complying with the latest fire safety legislation and helping them to make sure that customers and employees are as safe as possible.
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also adapted our ways of working to support and engage with businesses in different ways and we continue to do so moving forwards as businesses return to some normality. This includes offering virtual appointments with our Fire Safety Inspectors and encouraging completion of fire safety 'self-assessments' questionnaires, so businesses can gauge their level of compliance.
"As we return to our normal risk based audits, we are urging all businesses in Tyne and Wear to think about fire safety as they prepare for what will hopefully be a busy period ahead.
"While TWFRS supports businesses through our inspection programme and engagement plans, we will also carry out enforcement when necessary. The safety of the public is at the heart of everything we do, therefore we will continue to work with our partners to support the business community and promote fire safety compliance."
This week is also a timely reminder for businesses that intend to store and sell fireworks. They should ensure their premises have a current explosives licence and adequate fire safety provisions to store fireworks safely. Failure to have the required license will be full investigated and may result in a fine or even a prison sentence. This includes those illegal sales which are via social media platforms.
To apply for a Licence, please contact us at: Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland 0191 444 1264 or 0191 444 1249 Newcastle and North Tyneside 0191 444 1002 or 0191 444 1004