Small business fire safety

Employers have a duty of care to employees and visitors when they are on your property or undertaking a service provided by your business. Use this checklist, along with your Business Continuity Plan to prepare your business in the event of a fire.

Small business fire safety tips

  • Ensure your business has an adequately serviced and functional fire alarm system that is suitable to your small business eg: Remote serviced alarm systems, sprinkler systems, thermal or smoke alarms etc.
  • Write an emergency evacuation plan of how people should evacuate the workplace and where they should assemble if there is an emergency. Display the emergency evacuation plan where everyone can see it and practice your plan with your workers every six months. If you are in a multi-tenanted building, make sure the building manager will run practice evacuations for all tenants as part of your lease arrangements
  • Fire extinguishers need be located in a conspicuous, readily accessible location. Fire and Rescue NSW recommends that a surrounding clearance of a minimum of 1000mm be maintained around each extinguisher.
  • Ensure installed fire equipment is suitable for specific fire risks at your workplace (eg foam or dry powder type extinguishers for fires that involve flammable liquids, Carbon dioxide extinguishers for electrical fires).
  • Install signage so people can find fire equipment quickly and identify what type of fire it can be used on.
  • Workers who may have to use fire equipment should be trained in how to use it and know what type of fire extinguishers to use for different types of fires. If you feel your staff require training contact Commercial Fire Safety Training [external link] on 1800 78 78 48.
  • Make sure fire equipment is regularly maintained.
  • Make sure emergency exits are unlocked and not blocked.
  • Prevent electrical fires by having a regular inspection and maintenance program. Do not overload power points and power boards and regularly check electrical equipment for damage and faults.
  • Make sure all machinery is serviced as recommended by manufacturers and is kept clean. If possible, switch machinery off when the business is unattended.
  • Avoid storing or stockpiling flammable materials such as packaging materials or waste where they could be accessed by the public, including areas immediately outside your business premises.
  • If your business stores dangerous goods, ensure their storage and use adheres to legislative requirements.

Continuity tips

Fire and Rescue NSW recommends this checklist to assist your small business in reducing damage caused from fire and to assist in a speedy business recovery:

  • Ensure that all of your staff have sufficient training and know what they should do if your small business is exposed to an unexpected fire.
  • Make sure you know what information is important for your business continuity. This should include having contingency plans to protect and/or restore all important information (hard copy and IT) like supplier and client lists, business contracts and insurance details.
  • Always ensure your business has sufficient fire insurance.
  • If your staff require training or you need assistance with emergency procedures, contact Commercial Fire Safety Training [external link] on 1800 78 78 48.

For more information contact your local fire station.

In an Emergency Call Triple Zero (000)

A collaboration of Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service, ACT Fire Brigade and ACT Rural Fire Service