East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is backing Small Business Saturday (7th December 2013) and urging firms to make sure their profits and their futures don’t go up in smoke this Christmas.
During tough economic times, Christmas can be a make or break time for many small businesses and help them onto a firmer financial footing.
But a major fire or other serious incident can be catastrophic – figures from the British Insurers Brokers’ Association show that four out of five companies fail to recover and close within 18 months.
That is why we are urging small companies in East Sussex and Brighton and Hove to check their fire safety measures and have a back-up ‘business continuity’ plan to help them get back on their feet and trading if disaster does strike.
Here are some simple things that businesses can do to protect themselves, their customers and their staff this Christmas.
- Make sure your Fire Risk Assessment is up-to-date and that there is a plan to address any issues identified;
- Check on a daily basis for any obvious risks in the workplace, such as blocked emergency exits or piles of rubbish and recycling and check to make sure that fire safety equipment, including alarms and extinguishers, are working and in date;
- Make sure that staff know how to evacuate customers quickly and safely in the event of a fire;
- Look out for seasonal fire hazards such as candles, decorations and Christmas lights, take extra care and follow our advice;
- Restaurants, hotels and bars should take extra care with kitchen safety during the busy Christmas party season. A clean kitchen is a safe kitchen;
- Look after your laundry. Failure to wash, dry and store cotton tea towels used in kitchens can cause major fires like this one on our Black Museum website.
Head of Business Safety Richard Fowler said: “Small businesses are vital to our local economy providing growth and employment opportunities for thousands of people. In East Sussex alone, 88% of businesses employ ten or fewer people. The failure of any one of these firms could have huge knock on effects – putting staff out of work and piling pressure on suppliers.
“It’s a sad fact that many businesses, including some large ones, don’t make preparations for a major unplanned event like a fire or flood and struggle to cope when it happens. Your business continuity plan should address all the things that could realistically happen to your company and some simple measures to help you deal with each scenario. If you think your business doesn’t need a business continuity plan, then think again.”
If you are a small business owner looking to buy or rent new premises, you may also want to consider a location that has sprinklers fitted. Sprinklers can dramatically reduce the damage caused by fire.
Further safety advice to keep your business safe is available on our website. Businesses can also speak to their local Business Safety Officer.
Information about protecting your business and putting together a business continuity plan is available on the Sussex Resilience Forum website.