The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Content of Fire Training – Part 14

September 20, 2018 12:40 pm

In LWFs blog series for those who work in Facilities Management or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we have been looking most recently at Staff Training and Fire Drills. In part 13 of this series, the means of summoning the Fire Service was discussed, including the potential need for a pre-arranged rehearsal call by the person/post nominated for that duty. In part 14, LWF takes a look at what action should be taken when the fire alarm is heard and how this should be delivered as a part of fire safety training.

It is essential that during fire training, the protocol for what action must be taken upon hearing the fire alarm is made very clear. It is important that each person attending the training is clearly aware of the need for immediate evacuation as soon as the fire alarm is heard. While this may seem to be something of a ‘no-brainer’, studies have shown that people are reluctant to evacuate and are inclined to assume the fire alarm is a test or a false alarm. They wait for further indications that they should evacuate, such as other people evacuating.

Obviously, somebody has to be the first to evacuate and training should reflect the need to act as an individual upon hearing the alarm.

This point can be reinforced by the training session making it clear that management supports the evacuation of building occupants even if the alarm proves to be false later.

Further demonstrations of the consequences of non-evacuation can be illustrated by the use of visual aids to show the speed at which fire can develop. Most people have little to no experience of fire developing inside a building and therefore base their idea of the threat level on their own experience of fire, which may be a bonfire or an outside fire. Fire inside a building represents an imminent threat to the lives of the people inside and this point must be made in the strongest possible terms.

When considering evacuation times during training, it is obviously important that evacuation is completed as quickly as possible. In order for this to be achieved, it is essential that employees take advantage of the closest and safest means of escape and therefore, it is particularly important that they are familiar with those routes which are not part of their normal access routes or used on a daily basis.

Familiarisation with exit devices on fire doors is important and should be demonstrated and preferably, each person should be given the opportunity to operate one themselves.

Equally, those attending the fire safety training must be made aware that they should not use the lifts when the fire alarm has sounded, unless they have been told to use a lift designed for the evacuation of people with disabilities or mobility issues, or to assist such persons.

In part 15 of this series, LWF will look at fire safety training and the use of fire extinguishing appliances. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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