Fire Safety Training

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

ARTICLE 19 – TRAINING. This section of the Fire Safety Order deals with the information employers need to provide to employees.  The Health and Safety Executive summarise this as “Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills”.

What does this mean in practical terms? We help pin down the answers about how many staff need to be trained and what skills they require.

What About Internal Competent Persons?

We are frequently contacted by bewildered business owners in regard to this matter. We can reliably confirm that there is much confusion in the workplace regarding achieving a defendable compliance package of in-house fire training.

Individuals responsible for specific fire safety duties are often referred to as Fire Wardens, Fire Marshals, Fire Safety Managers or Fire Safety Co-orindators.  Within the Fire Safety Order (2005) all these titles come under the umbrella term of Competent Persons. These roles are generally delegated to members of staff.  Here at Wirral Fire, we prefer the full title: Internal Competent Persons (ICPs). Not to be confused with the responsible person.

How Many Trained Staff Might You Need?

In most workplaces  ICPs are generally about one in every ten employees. Of course there will be exceptions to the rule, but this is not steadfast. The good news is that some workplaces provide enhanced, (Level 2 or 3) training for all employees. This is most likely where the potential for fire incidents is greater, such as a workplace where ongoing hot work processes increase the risk. By comparison one in ten could be considered low in educational premises;  particularly where the buildings are spread over larger sites and pupil:staff ratios might be 25:1.

For some business models, having ten percent of staff trained up as ICPs might, on the face of it, seem excessive. At a call centre with three hundred employees all working in one large open plan floor space, five percent might be more appropriate. Of course if the three hundred staff work on a 24/7 three shift strategy, the requirement might change. In this kind of scenario, our experience reveals that one in ten members of staff being trained is a more sufficient number so that ICPs are on hand to cover all shifts.

There are usually three core fire training levels for the workplace responsible persons to consider as follows:

 LEVEL 1: INDUCTION OR BASIC FIRE AWARENESS/INSTRUCTION

Before we get into the ICP requirements in detail what about everybody else?

ALL staff/employees must be provided with this type of training to ensure they are aware of the critical fire safety information/procedures to follow in the event of fire.

The training can, and ideally should be, delivered in-house by internal competent person/s on the basis that they themselves have had sufficient training and knowledge in the area of fire safety.

Our Director Mike emphasises this point:

“Some employers prefer to use E Learning programmes or training DVDs and this is fine as long as it is supported with additional training. I have yet to find a DVD or E-learning package that shows trainees round the workplace’s various escape routes, fire exits, fire alarm call points and other points of interest particular to their workplace.”

Level 1 training would usually include the following;

  • Action to take on discovering a fire
  • Action to be taken on hearing the fire alarm
  • How to raise the alarm
  • The name/roles of the internal fire safety competent persons
  • Locations of all relevant escape routes/exits
  • How to open escape doors
  • Importance of good housekeeping
  • Criticality of fire doors and why they should not be held open

Records of all induction/basic fire awareness training must be recorded. The subject matter, the date of the training as well as the names of those receiving – and providing – the training should all be recorded and retained as evidence of ongoing compliance.

LEVEL 2: FIRE WARDENS/MARSHALS

This is usually a formal course, provided by external trainers, and for which certificates are awarded.

An appropriately trained and nominated Fire Warden or Marshal would generally have the skills and confidence to assist with specific fire safety duties around the workplace during non-fire conditions.

More importantly in fire conditions it is these trained employees who tend to be relied upon to ensure the safety of staff and customers. Typical duties of a Fire Warden/Marshal include:

  • Assessing fire risks in their area of responsibility
  • Identifying, reporting or removing hazards
  • Assisting with Fire or Test evacuations
  • Extinguishing low risk fires using portable fire fighting equipment
  • Taking part in periodic internal fire safety meetings

LEVEL 3: FIRE SAFETY MANAGER/COORDINATOR (FSM/FSC)

This is usually the individual who oversees all workplace fire safety compliance and to whom the Fire Wardens or Marshals report to.

The FSM would ordinarily be familiar with the entire workplace fire safety package; including a good understating of the passive and active measures installed. The duties of the FSM may include:

  • Ensuring that day to day checks that all fire safety arrangements are satisfactory and fire defence measures are in place and fully functional
  • Retaining appropriate fire safety records including the fire safety log book and engineers’ certificates
  • Initiating and maintaining a suitable methodology for confirming the number and whereabouts of all persons occupying the premises at all material times
  • Implementing suitable procedures (and equipment where necessary) for persons unable to self-evacuate
  • Providing basic fire awareness training to employees/contractors and developing the recording process; eg. training matrixes
  • Dealing directly with local fire authorities and insurance assessors etc. on the any fire safety issues
  • Ensuring suitable fire risk assessments are carried out/reviewed is reviewed periodically
  • Liaising with external engineers commissioned to service the fire defence provisions and following up any issues reported

Should you wish to attend one of our fire safety courses, or if you would like one of our trainers to come to your workplace to provide bespoke fire training in your workplace please call or email our office and one of our advisors will get straight back in touch.

This article is intended for guidance, contact us for detailed advice for your business. Drop Mike a line today using the form below.

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