A COUNCIL has launched a campaign to protect businesses from 'devastation' caused by fires.

Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service is offering fire safety advice to businesses all week, to coincide with National Business Safety Week, focusing particularly on restaurants and takeaways.

Their advice aims to reduce fires, false alarms and even arson attacks.

Statistics show that in 2017-18 there were 162 fires in Oxfordshire businesses, 23 of which (14 per cent) were deliberately set.

Judith Heathcoat, the council's cabinet member for community safety, said: "Short-cutting fire safety guidelines can have a devastating impact.

"Imagine a blaze that results in death or injury - the guilt, the risk of prosecution, a criminal record. And the lasting damage to your business and reputation.

"Please, take away our business safety advice."

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She said about one third of fires in the workplace are due to electrical faults and misuse of electrical equipment, adding: "Most of these fires are likely to be preventable.

"By taking some simple measures, businesses can learn about how to make their premises and staff safer from fire by visiting our business fire safety web pages, which gives practical advice.

"We know that many small businesses never recover from the damage caused by fire, so it is really important to factor in fire safety."

Dave Bray, the service's fire protection and business safety manager, said: "If a business on the ground floor has bedrooms on the upper floors, and the staircase descends to ground floor where it discharges through the takeaway or restaurant, a fire on the ground floor could trap people in the bedrooms above.

“Another concern is that staff may be sleeping within the commercial area after the premises are closed for business, which could place them at risk."

For more safety advice, see oxfordshire.gov.uk/businessfiresafety.