After a fire

You think the fire has just been put out and now you have some questions? Here are some answers.

Frequently asked questions

Is it out?

Unless it is a very small fire and it is obviously out (such as a small paper fire in a steel rubbish bin that is now full of water), the fire service should still be called so they can use thermal imaging cameras to verify there is no residual heat in the burnt areas.

Security also need to be contacted so they can alert Property Services and other internal agencies. 

Contact details: Fire emergency

When can we go back into the building?

It depends!

If the fire is very small and there has been little extra damage, the fire service will allow people back inside relatively quickly.

If there was a big fire, parts of the building (or even the whole building) may be out of action for days, weeks or months.

In cases such as the food hall fire at Epsom in 2013, buildings may be so damaged that they will need to be permanently closed.

I’ve gone back into the building and it smells like smoke. Is it harmful?

Smoke stop doors do not stop all the smoke, rather just enough to prevent the fire spreading. The human nose is designed to detect smoke particles in very small quantities (to warn us of danger) so any smoky smells will be easily noticed and will be unpleasant and irritating.

Property Services will arrange air testing where it is suspected that harmful materials are present, and will advise building occupants accordingly. They will also bring in extra air ventilation systems and fans to disperse the smoke particles as quickly as possible.

I used a fire extinguisher — what do I do?

  • Do not put back any used extinguisher even if it has only been used for a very short burst. Once the diaphragm is broken, the pressure charge in the extinguisher will quickly dissipate. 
  • Raise a request via the staff service centre to get the extinguisher replaced. Make sure you tell your manager/supervisor about the incident.
  • If you have genuinely used it to put out a developing or actual fire, you will not be asked to pay for a replacement. 
  • You need to report the incident to Health and Safety so we can prevent similar fires in the future. Look now: General information and reporting form

Document Control
Version: 1.0
Last Updated: Dec 2019
Next Review: Dec 2022
Approver: Associate Director, Health Safety & Wellbeing