"It is important to make sure that your health and safety is up to date, as well as making sure your office furniture is fire retardant."
AN ONLINE furniture store has released a video demonstrating how some chairs can be a fire hazard in the run-up to the Christmas season.
Rainbow Zebra, which has a warehouse in Thornbury, shows how quickly a chair can go up in flames and burn its surroundings.
And the Fire Industry Association, which promotes the UK fire safety industry, warns the risk of fire may be greater during the festivities – with lights and tinsel everywhere.
But Rainbow Zebra owner Paul Randall said fire retardant chairs can greatly reduce the risk of fire spreading and even prevent deaths.
The 32-year-old entrepreneur, who set up his business up in Almondsbury six years ago, said: “With radiators and Christmas lights on all day at this time of year, the risk of fire is increased.
“It is important to make sure that your health and safety is up to date, as well as making sure your office furniture is fire retardant.
“We conform to strict fire regulations. This not only helps to keep your insurance premiums down – but can save lives.”
The video shows how chairs with fire retardant foam are barely affected when a lit match is dropped on it.
In comparison, a non-fire retardant chair goes up in flames in just moments. Blazing plastic pieces fall to the floor, which would then set carpet alight.
The chair is destroyed in minutes and the video warns that the office would also be likely badly damaged.
Rainbow Zebra chairs meet British Safety standards. The firm labels its chairs as low or medium fire retardant, according to its environmental needs.
And failure to meet health and standard requirements could result in a hefty fine – or worse.
Martyn Weeks, of health and safety firm Fire Risk Safety in St Anne’s, Bristol, said: “It’s a legal requirement for any non-domestic premises to carry out a fire risk assessment, and this would involve looking at the furniture you have in place.
“If your furniture does not meet the statutory requirements and someone was injured or killed in a fire as a result, you may be charged with gross negligence. If found guilty, punishment could involve a large fine or custodial sentence.”
The regulatory reform (fire safety) order was introduced in 2005. Business owners then became responsible for the safety of anyone using business premises.
Last year, Ilhami Ince, of Best Takeaway in Eastgate Street, Gloucester, was given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay costs of over £11,000 for failing to comply with the order. Among the breaches, inspectors found some furniture was not fire resisting.
In September, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service visited 67 businesses as part of its Business Safety Week.
Stewart Edgar, chief fire officer of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, said at the time:“Fires can have a devastating effect on businesses and many cease to exist as a result.
“The county has seen major employers and infrastructure sites suffer devastating fires. The recovery can often be long-term, affecting jobs and the smaller business community.
“Reducing commercial fires and ensuring that businesses are not vulnerable to fire is vital to the economic growth and prosperity of Gloucestershire.”
· To view the video, visit: https://www.facebook.com/therainbowzebra/videos/10150690147760495/