Fire Awareness is something that benefits everyone, not just at work but anywhere – it’s a life skill. It doesn’t just mean knowing what to do in a fire, but also includes recognising what could cause a fire, understanding how it spreads and knowing what to do to eliminate or at least reduce the dangers. At work, fire prevention and fire safety include putting in place safeguards and ensuring that everyone knows the proper procedure to follow in the case of a fire to avoid panic.
With almost 16,000 non-domestic fires occurring in 2017, there are clearly workers out there who are in need of more information regarding fire safety.
So, do your staff know what to do if the fire alarm goes off at work? Do they know where to evacuate to? And do they know who to ask?
Someone has to be ready to take charge! There should be a fire warden or fire marshal in each work area or one for approximately every five members of staff. It is often the case that when the fire alarm goes off, you can’t actually see any sign of a fire, so you sit and wait for confirmation of the fact it’s not just a fire drill. Whether it's a fire drill or the real thing, you should be calmly getting up and leaving via the safest route. It's in these precious moments of inactivity that you lose vital time – it only takes a few minutes for a fire to take hold.
A fire marshal or warden is essential to direct staff on how to act. They are chosen by a company owner or manager as competent people and their responsibilities include staff fire training, running regular fire drills, ensuring fire exit signs are properly placed and exit routes are clear and keeping everyone updated on fire policy and procedure.
Let's also not forget that Fire Awareness Training is a legal requirement for all staff, regardless of company sector or size. Training on fire safety at work is not only a health and safety legal requirement but also a life skill. It could literally be the difference between life and death.
What should be included in fire safety training?
- Background of the science of fires – how fires start, how they keep going, and how they spread and why. And it’s useful to recognise in your particular workplace what the common fire hazards are.
- Workplace essentials – you should know where YOUR best fire exit is and where the alternatives are, in case a fire blocks your normal escape route. Have a look round - are the fire exits clearly signed, with routes well-lit and not blocked? Fire drills should be regularly run, so you should be aware of how to evacuate calmly and you should know where your assembly point is.
- What to do if there is a fire – you should know NEVER to put yourself in danger, how to raise the alarm and how to evacuate safely.
- You should know the fire policies and fire procedures your company has in place and who your nearest fire warden is.
Fire Safety Training can be completed in a variety of ways – sending staff out to a group training course ensures that everyone is trained in one go, but it can be extremely costly and mean a loss of productivity with a group of staff absent together. Similarly, group in-house training will almost certainly mean great expense and a proportion of staff missing all at the same time. A good alternative is to provide your staff with eLearning. eLearning can be completed whenever and wherever it suits you and your staff and, of course, each member of staff can complete the training at different times, avoiding the general loss of productivity.
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