Services – Fire Safety Training
The actions of staff if there is a fire are likely to be crucial to their safety and that of other people in the premises. All staff should receive basic fire safety induction training and attend refresher sessions at pre-determined intervals.
You should ensure that all staff and contractors are told about the emergency plan and are shown the escape routes.
The training should take account of the findings of the fire risk assessment and be easily understood by all those attending. It should include the role that those members of staff will be expected to carry out if a fire occurs. This may vary in large premises, with some staff being appointed as fire marshals or being given some
other particular role which additional training will be required.
In addition to the guidance given in Part 1, Step 4.4, as a minimum all staff should
receive training about:
• The items listed in your emergency plan;
• The importance of fire doors and other basic fire-prevention measures;
• Where relevant, the appropriate use of fire fighting equipment;
• The importance of reporting to the assembly area;
• Exit routes and the operation of exit devices(a one action device such as push bar to open), including physically walking these routes and opening these doors;
• General matters such as permitted smoking areas or restrictions on cooking other than in designated areas;
• Assisting disabled persons where necessary.
Training is necessary:
• When staff start employment or are transferred into the premises;
• When changes have been made to the emergency plan and the preventative and protective measures;
• Where working practices and processes or people’s responsibilities change;
• To take account of any changed risks to the safety of staff or other relevant persons;
• To ensure that staff know what they have to do to safeguard themselves and others on the premises;
• Where staff are expected to assist disabled persons; and
• If a member of staff may take on the role of duty manager.
Training should be repeated as often as necessary and should take place during working hours.
Whatever training you decide is necessary to support your fire safety strategy and emergency plan, it should be variable.
Enforcing authorities may want to examine records as evidence that adequate training has been given.
Staff expected to undertake the role of fire marshals (often called fire wardens) would require more comprehensive training. Their role may include:
• Helping those on the premises with leave;
• Checking the premises to ensure everyone has left;
• Using fire fighting equipment if safe to do so;
• Liaising with the fire and rescue service on arrival;
• Shutting down vital or dangerous equipment; and
• Performing a supervisory/managing role in any fire situation.
Training for this role may include:
• Detailed knowledge of the fire safety strategy of the premises;
• Awareness of human behaviour in fires;
• How to encourage others to use the most appropriate escape route;
• How to search safely and recognise areas that are safe unsafe to enter;
• The difficulties that some people, particularly if disabled, may have in escaping and any special evacuation arrangements that have been preplanned;
• Additional training in the use of fire fighting equipment
• An understanding of the purpose of any fixed fire fighting equipment such as sprinklers or gas flooding systems; and
• Reporting of faults, incidents and near misses.
Once the emergency plan has been developed and training given, you will need to evaluate its effectiveness. The best way to do this is to perform a fire drill. This should be carried out at least annually but every 6 months is recommended or as determined by your fire risk assessment. If you have a high turn over of staff you may need to carry them out more often.
A well-planned and executed fire drill will confirm understanding of the training and provide helpful information for future training. The responsible person should determine possible objectives of the drill such as to:
• Identify any weakness in the evacuation strategy;
• Test the procedure following any recent alterations or changes to working practice;
• Familiarise new members of staff with procedures; and
• Test the arrangements for disabled people
Who Should Take Part?
Within each building the evacuation should be for all occupants except those who may need to ensure the security of the premises, or people who, on a risk assessed basis, are required to remain with particular equipment or processes that cannot be closed down.
Premises that consist of several buildings on the same site should be dealt with one building at a time over an appropriate period unless the emergency procedure dictates otherwise.
Where appropriate, you may find it helpful to include members of the public in your fire drill – ensuring that all necessary health and safety issues are addressed before you do so.
Carrying Out The Drill
For premises that have more than one escape route, the escape plan should be designed to evacuate all people on the assumption that one exit or stairway is unavailable because of the fire. This could be simulated by a designated person being located at a suitable point on an exit route. Applying this scenario to different
escape routes at each fire drill will encourage individuals to use alternative escape routes which they may not normally use.
When carrying out the drill you might find it helpful to:
• Circulate details concerning the drill and inform all staff of their duty to participate. It may not be beneficial to have ‘surprise drills’ as the health and safety risks introduced may outweigh the benefits;
• Ensure that equipment can be safely left;
• Nominate observers;
• Inform the alarm receiving centre if the fire-warning system is monitored (if the fire and rescue service is normally called directly from your premises ensure that this does not happen); and inform them that you are doing the drill.
• Inform visitors and members of the public if they are not present; and
• Ask a member of staff at random to set off the alarm by operating the nearest alarm call point using the test key. This will indicate the level of knowledge regarding the location of the nearest call point.
More detailed information on fire drills and test evacuations are given in BS 5588-12.
The roll call/checking the premises have been evacuated
Where possible, you should ensure that a roll call is carried out as soon as possible at designated assembly point(s), and/or receive reports from wardens designated to ‘sweep’ the premises. You should note any people who are unaccounted for. In a real evacuation this information will need to be passed to the fire and rescue service on arrival.
Check that people have assembled at the evacuation point.
Once the roll call is complete or all reports have been received, allow people to return to the building. If the fire-warden system is monitored inform the alarm-receiving centre that the drill has now been completed and record the outcomes of the drill.
Monitoring and Debrief
Throughout the drill the responsible person and nominated observers should pay particular attention to:
• Communication difficulties with regard to the roll call and establishing that everyone is accounted for;
• The use of the nearest available escape routes as opposed to common circulation routes;
• Difficulties with the opening of final exit doors;
• Difficulties experienced by people with disabilities
• The roles of specific people, e.g. fire wardens;
• Inappropriate actions, e.g. stopping to collect personal items, attempting to use lifts etc; and
• Windows and doors not being closed as people leave.
On-the-spot debriefs are useful to discuss the fire drill, encouraging feedback from everybody. Later, reports from fire wardens and observations from people should be collated and reviewed. Any conclusions and remedial actions should be recorded and implemented.