The LWF Blog
NEW FIRE REGULATIONS: Competency and Fire Safety Training Issues – Update.3March 28, 2007 4:26 am
(LWF issue regular monthly updates covering topics specific to the implications of the new fire safety regulations on your business operation).
A fundamental requirement of a Fire Safety Policy document is the definition of the way in which the organisation manages fire safety, how it devolves responsibility between those that hold ultimate responsibility and those who interface on a day to day basis with activities that may give rise to fire risk. Devolved responsibility is usually expressed in terms of ‘Roles and Responsibilities’. A robust approach to fire safety policy definition goes further as in addition to ‘top-down’ devolvement, it provides for a two-way system for communication, notification and reporting. Responsibilities defined within a Fire Safety Policy can range between those of the Board of Directors / owners of the organisation through to those with specific duties (risk managers, senior managers, fire marshals / wardens), and to general staff.
Having defined a means for devolving fire safety responsibility, it must be considered unreasonable that an organisation could expect an individual to accept a role for which he or she is not competent. This situation would be undesirable in normal work activities and is certainly unacceptable in this duty which carries with it some legal liability. It is essential therefore that the Fire Safety Policy makes explicit how the organisation ensures that those to who responsibility is devolved are competent to accept the role. Conversely, it would not be unreasonable for an individual to refuse a fire safety role if the skills and competency required were not provided through the provision of suitable training.
Fire Safety Training
All organisations will make arrangements to meets its statutory obligations in different ways. Although the requirements for fire safety will be similar, each organisation subject to the way in which it structures itself, will have a unique way in which it devolves duties. To enable a robust and transparent approach to this problem, the Procedure that defines competency should contain an analysis comparing responsibility to training requirement (Training Needs Analysis). It then needs to demonstrate that the identified training need is delivered by the training program that is applied. This can be summarised as appropriate training course content delivered by a competent trainer.
It is incumbent on the organisation to demonstrate its system to manage fire safety. One effective way of demonstrating competency is to incorporate a method of measurement at the point of training delivery. This may involve a test at the completion of a course. The test must be simple enough not to represent a barrier to volunteers, but effective enough to achieve the objective. The advantage of testing is the creation of an audit trail demonstrating that not only was the appropriate training delivered, but that in addition the message was received and understood by the individual.