For lots of people who work in an office environment, the initial reaction to fire safety might be one of irritation. How many times have you been on the phone, say – in a conference call, or some such – at 10 am on a Wednesday morning and you forget that the alarm is always tested at that time? We might make light of the matter with an apology and a quick joke and move swiftly on. But then we forget and, sure enough, 10am Wednesday rolls around again and that shriek jars our senses once more.
Thinking about it, though, the shrill sound of a fire alarm is well down the list of potential office irritants – an insignificant price to pay for ensuring as high a standard of safety as possible. In 2015-16, official statistics show that the fire service attended nearly 16,000 non-dwelling (i.e. office) fires, resulting in 21 fatalities and over 1,000 injuries. If we’re to reduce those figures further, it’s important that employers take all necessary steps to minimise the risk of fire, which is another way of saying that the emphasis is on them to maximise fire safety.
Regular testing of the fire alarm is just the start of it: an employer needs to provide fire safety training to its employees, raising awareness of fire risks in the workplace and making sure employees know exactly what to do should a fire ever break out. It is a legal requirement to provide fire safety training to all staff with regular refresher courses and it makes obvious sense to continuously assess and update the fire safety plan; you may have new starters, for example, or building work may lead to potential new fire hazards and risks.
Here at HR Fire & Safety Ltd, we can provide you with all the right equipment, so your fire alarm can shriek every Wednesday at 10am to the irritation of all (or those who get irritated by that sort of thing). But it’s just one part of the equation: there is also being able to use the equipment properly.
We provide fire extinguisher and marshal training so everyone is prepared should an emergency occur.
The training consists of:
• The principles of fire (the fire triangle). How do fires start in the first place? What are the most common causes?
• The different types of fire extinguisher and their characteristics. This is where you learn how to use an extinguisher safely, which type of extinguisher to use on which types of fire, and, conversely, which types of fire a certain extinguisher cannot be used on. (This is also the fun bit: a fire extinguisher demonstration where, if we are able, we all go outside and you get hands-on experience by letting off water and CO2 extinguishers.)
• Being made aware of the fire procedures specific to your company and the building i.e. what to do in the event of a fire. We identify fire exits, alarm call points and other important safety features in your building. As mentioned earlier, the emphasis is on the employer to have a plan of action, including steps to be followed in contacting the emergency services and evacuating the building.
• You remember that high-vis jacket you see hanging over the back of such-and-such’s chair? Every office has a member of staff who serves as fire warden; this role is also discussed in more detail. Perhaps you’d like to volunteer yourself?
• Last but not least, there’s also a fire quiz with questions and answers.
Our training is not aimed at being overly technical; more the case that we’ve tailored it to give just the right amount of knowledge. We also like to encourage discussion to get the delegates thinking about fire.
The course length is around an hour to an hour-and-a-half (depending on questions etc) and the maximum number of people is 10. The cost, meanwhile, includes certificates and a handy pocket extinguisher guide. The courses are held at your premises, or an alternative location agreed in advance.
As a final reminder: fire drills should be carried out at least twice a year, to ensure that any evacuation plan is fit for purpose and that everybody is confident should an emergency arise. With all the right steps in place, we ourselves are confident that the risk will be kept to a minimum.
If you want to speak to us about our training courses – or any aspect of fire safety – then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!