Major warehouse fires are not as rare as you might think; the first three days of March this year saw at least three:

  • Ten fire engines were called to fight a pallet warehouse fire in Enfield that was threatening to cause travel chaos on the M25 motorway.
  • Two Stafford schools were forced to close as more than 60 firefighters battled to prevent a warehouse blaze spreading to 40,000 litres of industrial oil.
  • Local residents were warned to keep their windows and doors closed until a big warehouse fire north of Manchester was finally brought under control.

Fortunately, none of these devastating events resulted in fatalities. However, 258 people did die in fires in England alone in 2014-15 and there were 3,235 non-fatal fire hospital casualties.

Fire tends to be a subject that people get excited about only after the event, but a blaze occurring in a warehouse can have a catastrophic impact on both people and property. That’s why it pays to put considerable forethought into the potential for a fire.

After all, the primary purpose of a warehouse is to hold a large quantity of often flammable products or supplies. They also tend to be vast open structures with racks of constantly changing goods, which makes fire risk management an essential part of ensuring a safe workplace.

Non-domestic premises in England and Wales must comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which abandoned prescriptive codes. Instead, the legislation requires those responsible for a warehouse to undertake a fire risk assessment to help ensure safety procedures – including fire prevention measures and fire precautions (plans, systems and equipment) – are in place.

To protect people, surely the most important aspect of any fire safety plan, I would argue that it pays not just to comply with these important rules, but to go beyond them.

That’s one of the reasons why technology such as our VeroSafe system is so important. It can track the movement of tagged pedestrians around a warehouse or factory in real time and will trigger an alarm if the pedestrian gets too close to a forklift truck.

However, it can do so much more. In the event of a fire alarm, VeroSafe can track the safe movement of warehouse employees to a mustering area. If a worker fails to respond to a fire alarm, the system will raise an alert and pinpoint his or her position, making rescue less hazardous.

VeroSafe can also protect people from perilous processes or malfunctioning equipment by locking down areas when a risk is identified. This means that people are prevented from accidently going into the affected area without realising that there is a potential risk.

To learn more about warehouse safety, why not read our free warehouse safety white paper.