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Emergency plans and business continuity

Business continuity is about having common sense precautions in place to help you survive a disruption and recover afterwards should this occur.

Running a business is unpredictable – you never know what’s around the next corner. Have you ever thought about what would happen if your business was involved in an emergency?

Fire routines

The basis of fire safety is the routine to be undertaken in the event of any fire. All staff should know how to react on discovery of fire or on hearing the premises fire alarm. It is essential that the management draw up an effective routine which covers all likely types of situation, from a fire alarm, to a major incident.

The fire routine needs to take into account the types of activities which take place in the premises, the fire precautions that are provided and above all, the fire warning system that is available to the premises. If not already written, the fire routine should be drawn up following the fire risk assessment of the premises.

The 'responsible person' is responsible for ensuring that all necessary fire safety features are available and in working order and that no undue fire risks are present. Fire incident experience over many decades has highlighted the importance of ensuring that fire exit doors can be easily and immediately opened, that exit routes are free from obstruction, are suitably lit and that any combustible waste has been removed.

Actions on discovering a fire

Personnel should be made aware of the method of raising the alarm in a premises, this should include the position of manual fire alarm call points and their method of operation.

Hearing the fire alarm

Personnel should be made aware of the evacuation procedures in their workplace. They should be shown escape routes and final exits, they should also be made aware of fire doors and their purpose in protecting escape routes.

Fire assembly points

Personnel should be shown their 'Fire Assembly Point' and made aware of the need to ensure they have been accounted for.

Calling the Fire and Rescue Service

Staff should be made aware of the method of calling the fire and rescue service and the location of telephones.

Awareness of portable fire equipment

Personnel should be trained in the safe use of fire extinguishers. It is not acceptable to say 'employees are not expected to use an extinguisher and therefore they don't need to know'.

Business continuity

Business continuity is about having common sense precautions in place to help you survive a disruption and recover afterwards should this occur. It doesn’t have to cost anything and you might find it wins you contracts and helps to reduce insurance premiums.

The types of disruptions you might encounter vary according to your business but are generally accepted as:

  • Loss of premises – Do you have an alternative location? Can you hire a temporary building? Being prepared for fire, by having up to date fire risk assessments and adequate working fire detection systems, is just part of the wider picture of being prepared for any type of emergency such as flooding, theft or vandalism.
  • Staff shortages – Could you use agency workers to cover short term?
  • Loss of utilities – Do you have portable heaters, an electricity generator and access to bottled water?
  • Loss of IT – Do you have a maintenance contract, or could you revert to a paper based system in the short term?
  • Loss of vehicles – Do you have a call off hire contract in your insurance?
  • Loss of supply chain – Do your suppliers have a business continuity plan? If not,do you have a backup supplier?

So think about your critical products and services and the measures you could put in place should any of the disruptions listed above happen.

The Derbyshire Prepared website signposts you to information from many agencies that can be used to assess the resilience of your business and put in place plans to prepare for different types of emergency. 

The internet has a wealth of information and templates for business continuity planning - so have a look at these and get planning. Disruptions don’t just happen to other people.

Useful downloads: