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Knowledge Share: Fire Safety in Warehousing – Protecting Lives and Property

Feb 22, 2024

Fire safety in warehousing and storage has never been more important.

Why is warehousing important?

Warehouses play a crucial role in the supply chain, storing goods and materials that keep our economy moving. However, with large quantities of inventory, machinery, and electrical systems, warehouses also pose significant fire risks. Implementing robust fire safety measures is essential to safeguard lives, property, and business continuity. In this blog, we’ll explore key aspects of fire safety in warehousing and practical steps to mitigate risks.

1. Fire Risk Assessment

Before addressing fire safety, conduct a thorough fire risk assessment. This process involves identifying potential hazards, evaluating their impact, and devising preventive measures. Here are the steps:

Identify Hazards: Consider factors like flammable materials, electrical systems, machinery, and storage arrangements.

Assess Consequences: Understand the impact of a fire on people, property, and operations.

Implement Controls: Put in place preventive measures, emergency plans, and fire safety equipment.

It sounds simple, but for a fire risk assessment to be suitable and sufficient it requires extensive knowledge of fire risk, property fire safety, the Building Regulations, chemical safety, electrical and gas risks, fire loading, evacuation strategies and DSEAR. When if comes to carrying out a fire risk assessment in warehousing, it is highly recommended to consult a professional fire risk assessor.

2. Fire Prevention Measures

a. Storage Practices

Segregate Flammable Materials: Store flammable liquids, gases, and chemicals away from ignition sources. Use designated areas for hazardous materials.

Clear Aisles and Exits: Maintain clear pathways for emergency evacuation. Blocked exits can be deadly during a fire.

Regular Housekeeping: Keep storage areas clean and clutter-free. Accumulated dust and debris can fuel fires.

Ensure COSHH assessments and DSEAR assessments are in place and importantly, understood.

b. Electrical Safety

Regular Inspections: Inspect electrical systems, wiring, and equipment routinely. Faulty wiring can cause short circuits and fires. Annual electrical inspections are advised with an EICR carried out every 3-5 years (dependent on the property).

Overloading Prevention: Avoid overloading electrical outlets and circuits. Use surge protectors and distribute loads evenly. Don’t daisy-chain electrical cables!

Emergency Shutdown Procedures: Ensure all employees know how to shut off power during emergencies if it is safe to do so.

c. Firefighting Equipment

Fire Extinguishers: Place fire extinguishers strategically throughout the warehouse. Regularly inspect and maintain them.

Sprinkler Systems: Install automatic sprinkler systems. They activate when detecting heat or smoke, suppressing fires. These can be specially designed systems that could either be ‘in rack’ systems or overhead.

Emergency Alarms: Install smoke detectors and fire alarms. Regularly test and replace batteries. Make sure you have the correct fire alarm system in place to BS5839-1. A good fire risk assessor can help!

3. Employee Training and Awareness

Fire Drills: Conduct regular fire drills to familiarise employees with evacuation routes and procedures.

Training Programmes: Train staff on fire safety protocols, including using fire extinguishers and reporting hazards.

Emergency Contacts: Display emergency contact numbers prominently and place a fire information box by reception in case the fire service need access to it out of hours.

4. Emergency Evacuation Plans

Evacuation Routes: Clearly mark evacuation routes and exits. Ensure everyone knows where to go during a fire. Make sure signage is suitable and sufficient.

Assembly Points: Designate safe assembly points outside the warehouse. Ensure that there is safe onward evacuation routes from the fire assembly point.

Accountability: Conduct sweep searches and /or roll calls to account for all employees during evacuations. Ensure procedures are in place for knowing who is on site and where they are. Often, warehouses have few staff and so they may be working in remote places.

5. Maintenance and Inspections

Fire Safety Equipment: Regularly inspect fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, and alarms. Replace damaged or expired items promptly.

Electrical Systems: Address any electrical issues promptly. Faulty wiring can lead to fires.

Documentation: Maintain records of inspections, drills, and maintenance.


Fire safety in warehousing is everyone’s responsibility. By implementing preventive measures, conducting risk assessments, and fostering a safety-conscious culture, we can protect lives, property, and livelihoods. Remember, a well-prepared warehouse is not only efficient but also resilient in the face of fire emergencies.

For more detailed guidance, refer to the official UK government document on fire safety risk assessment for factories and warehouses which is available on line.

Stay safe, stay vigilant, and prioritise fire safety in your warehouse operations!

-JCH Safety are specialist fire risk assessors and health & safety consultants-

We work across Coventry, Birmingham, Warwickshire, Leicestershire and the wider West Midlands

Warehouse Fire Risk Assessments