Do I need to have fire training?
Yes and No, it is a very complicated subject actually.
If referring to fire procedures and fire drills then Yes - to ensure evacuation can be achieved of all persons onsite without any risk to harm of any person. This is required under Article 15 of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The type of fire training is all subject to the size of the business, the complexity of the premises and the activities carried out there. For example, a small office of 5 – 10 staff, a formal training once a year with some online training might be suffice.
However, as with anything in fire safety it must be suitable and sufficient for the tasks at hand and ensure staff have suitable knowledge once the training has been completed to ensure they can react correctly in a fire situation.
Larger more complex building may require more formal training to ensure all elements of the legislation are known and a suitable volume of staff trained. Most organisations employ an external contractor to ensure suitable training is provided.
Do I need to train staff on fire fighting with extinguishers?
This is the ‘No’ but might be a ‘Yes’ as well. There are 2 considerations that a Responsible Person must think about.
1. In most premises (not high risk) a fire starts small and can be detected in its infancy. By having nominated trained staff to fight a small fire the business may be able to extinguish a fire and have little impact on its business continuity. Studies have shown that over 80% of businesses fail within 18 months after a serious fire incident. Simply, why would you not want to have trained staff who can protect your business, their employment and prevent serious impacts on the environment?
By leaving a building and allowing a fire to grow until The Fire Service arrive, this will certainly increase the damage caused by the fire itself, damage caused by putting the fire out and disruption on the business in the immediate aftermath and for months later waiting for insurance claims to be processed and repair work undertaken to repair the fire damage.
If staff are trained not to fight fires and the procedures are to leave the building immediately and someone is hurt in a fire, The Fire Service may well prosecute.
2. If however, The Responsible Person can guarantee that all persons can safely evacuate the building in the case of a fire, then there may well be no need to have fire trained staff in place and a procedure of evacuation only may be acceptable.
And to complicate matters
If you have trained fire staff and a person is injured fighting a fire then The Fire Service may well prosecute The Responsible Person, so the importance of training staff properly is critical to ensure they are trained in what is safe and what is not safe and to put themselves at risk.
How long does the fire training take?
Usually 2 – 2.5 hours for the classroom element of the training depending on staff participation. The more participation from staff the better the training due to engagement. A further half hour should cover the extinguisher section and practical use of extinguishers.
What is covered in the training?
Numerous subjects are covered in the fire training to prepare staff for their tasks should a fire occur. Examples include:
Why do the training
Types of fire
The fire triangle
Human behaviours in fire
Activities to take in the case of a fire
Types of extinguishers and their use
When is safe to fight a fire and when it is not
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