Let’s assume you have now carried out your Fire Risk Assessment and created or revised your Emergency Plan. Plans are great in theory, but will not help you unless everyone knows the plan and understands their own role in making it work. What’s more, well trained staff can save lives and reduce damage to your property and business.
You will not be surprised to hear that you, as the Responsible Person, have a duty to provide fire training and information for your staff. In particular for new staff as soon as possible after they start, and whenever any changes are made that might affect the risks (new layout, new equipment, transferring departments, etc).
The starting point is for all staff to know your Emergency Plan. It is sensible from an employer viewpoint to keep a record of all fire training. As a starting point, give everyone their own copy of the Emergency Plan and get them to sign to say they have received it and understand their role in an emergency. Perhaps even introduce a simple Fire Training Test that everyone needs to pass, maybe as part of the induction process for new staff.
Fire + Safety Consulting – General Occupancy Training includes the following:
- Everything contained in the Emergency Plan, including where the Assembly Point is
- How to use fire fighting equipment (if that is part of your Emergency Plan)
- The importance of keeping escape routes clear and fire doors closed
- Any special arrangements for disabled people
Remember – whenever you need to amend your Fire Risk Assessment of Emergency Plan, consider whether your staff require fire training on that issue. Keep a record of all fire training in case the Fire Authority wishes to inspect it.
Fire + Safety Consulting – Fire Warden Training includes the following:
Staff who are given special roles in an emergency are usually referred to as Fire Wardens and will need additional fire training. Fire Wardens may be asked to undertake such special duties as checking specific areas, tackling the fire with extinguishers, closing down certain equipment or plant, supervising the Assembly Point, giving fire training to other staff, etc.
Additional fire training for this role could include such things as:
- More detailed knowledge of the whole premises
- Fire training on the use of fire extinguishers and other fire fighting equipment
- An understanding of special requirements for evacuating disabled people
- A responsibility for ensuring that visitors or members of the public get out of the building
The best way to test whether your Emergency Plan and your fire training have been effective is to carry out a fire drill. Short of a real emergency, this is the only way of identifying any areas where people are not clear about their role, or where your Emergency Plan does not work quite so well in practice because of some scenario or complication you had not considered.
As well as the comfort of knowing that your plan actually does work well in practice, your staff will be much more calm and comfortable in a real emergency if they are already used to ‘going through the motions’ in fire training.
As the Responsible Person, the most useful thing you can do during a drill is to observe what happens, including timing how long it takes to get everyone out of the building.