Staff fire safety training for employees
Any business owner in the UK is legally required (as per The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) to provide sufficient information about the fire safety procedures to their staff and to do that you need to organise regular fire safety training for employees.
In addition to offering basic fire safety training for everyone who works in the building, you must also provide special fire warden training for the member (or members) of staff who you have appointed to act as a responsible person. This is a more specialised training which comes with a fire marshal certificate which needs to be renewed minimum every three years.
How often is fire safety training required?
You should carry out a staff fire safety training once a year. An annual refresher ensures that your team are aware of the fire safety procedures and that they are up to date with any possible changes. Also, if you have new members of staff, this is a great opportunity to introduce them to the basic fire safety procedures within the business.
You may need to organise a fire safety training earlier than your regular 12-month training session if there have been significant changes to the team, the environment or the industry regulations. Some of the possible scenarios include:
- You have implemented significant changes to your internal safety policies
- The fire evacuation procedure has changed
- You have introduced new work equipment that may pose a fire risk
- You have reasons to believe that some of your employees have gaps in their fire safety knowledge
- A number of new employees have joined the team and your regular fire safety training isn’t due anytime soon
- You have changed premises
- There has been a fire incident at work that could have been prevented
- A significant fire incident has occurred within your industry and it has affected the fire safety procedure for all businesses in the industry, including yours
As we mentioned earlier, your fire wardens will have to undergo special fire marshal training every three years to ensure that their certification is up to date. If your appointed marshal leaves the business, you need to select a replacement and get that person the appropriate training as well.
What’s included in basic fire safety training?
Depending on a person’s role within the business and the type of industry they work in, the level of fire safety training they require will be different. However, every employee should have basic fire training as a minimum to limit the risk of fire incidents at work. Here are some of the main topics that should be covered in the fire awareness training.
The Fire Triangle
Understanding the concept of the fire triangle is essential to battling fires. Simply put, fire needs three elements to burn: heat, fuel and oxygen; remove either one of them and the fire will be extinguished. The basic fire safety training should cover specific real-life examples of how to apply this principle in practice.
What to do in case of fire
From what to do if you discover a fire to the correct way to evacuate a building, knowing the fire emergency evacuation plan (FEEP) is basic fire safety knowledge that every employee should have. It also includes fire exits, assembly points, how to sound the fire alarm and more.
How to reduce fire hazards
The statistics show that nearly a quarter of all workplace fire incidents in the UK in the last decade have been caused by a simple human mistake, which means that the most common cause of fire in the workplace is likely preventable. This is why the basic fire safety training for employees must always cover those small things that we could change in our everyday behaviour to minimise the risk of a fire, including:
- Avoid clutter in the workplace
- Use the designated smoking areas
- Make sure chemicals are stored safely
- Place electric cables away from heat sources
- Keep machinery clean and well-serviced
- Keep the fire exits clear and unobstructed
- Ensure that the fire extinguishers are properly maintained
- Report any potential fire hazards immediately
Another useful topic to cover in fire safety training for employees is the five classes of fire recognised in the UK. Knowing what type of fire you are facing is the key to extinguishing it because it tells you what fuel is keeping the fire burning:
- Class A fires -> fuel is a solid, flammable material (e.g. plastic, fabric, wood, paper and rubber)
- Class B fires – > fuel is a flammable liquid (e.g. petrol, paint, gasoline or oil (not cooking oil))
- Class C fires -> fuel is flammable gas (e.g. propane, butane and methane)
- Class D fires -> fuel is a flammable metal (e.g. magnesium, potassium, or aluminium)
- Class F fires – > fuel is cooking oils or fats
Electrical fires don’t have a class letter but they are a separate group and they are marked with an electric spark symbol.
Fire Extinguisher Types, Colours & Use
Since not every fire extinguisher is useful against every type of fire, it’s important to include the types, colours and usage of the various fire extinguishers on the agenda for your staff fire safety training. The basic information that should be covered includes what the different types of fire extinguishers are, how to recognise them and what fires they can combat.
- Water (Red) – > Class A fires
- Foam (Cream) -> Class A and B fires
- Powder (Blue) – > Class B, C, D fires and Electrical fires
- CO2 (Black) – > Class B fires & Electrical fires
- Wet chemical (Yellow) – > Class A and F fires
How to use a fire extinguisher
Every member of staff should know how to use a fire extinguisher, even if it’s just the following simple steps:
- Remove the pin
- Aim at the fire
- Press the level
- Move the nozzle from side to side as you get closer to the fire and continue until the flames are extinguished completely
Also, it could be useful to teach your employees how to use a fire blanket without endangering themselves and when it’s not appropriate to do it.
How to help others, especially those with special needs
People with disabilities may have varying levels of mobility and they may have special needs when it comes to a fire emergency. Protecting those who are less abled has to be covered in their basic training as they will have to be aware of their personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) if they require one.
This is also an important topic to cover in the special fire warden training because part of the fire marshal’s responsibilities is to offer anyone who needs assistance the help they need to evacuate the burning building safely.
Why is fire safety training important?
It may be the legal responsibility of the employer to keep everyone in the office safe but every member of staff plays their role in fire safety, which is why it is crucial to ensure that the appropriate fire safety training has been provided.
The UK national statistics (2010-2020) show that 22% of fires in the workplace are caused by human error, 14% due to placing an item too close to a heat source and 6% are due to smoking, The majority of these fire incidents could potentially have been avoided, had the staff followed the best practices outlined in the basic fire safety training. This clearly highlights the importance of fire safety awareness for health and safety at work.
By simply offering regular staff fire safety training, you could prevent serious injuries and even death. Additionally, a fire can cause damage to the property and cost huge amounts of money in repairs, loss of business, lawsuits, and damaged machinery. All of these can then lead to job losses and harm the business and its employees in the long run. This is why practical fire safety training is important and should never be skipped.
How can Cardinal Fire Protection help?
At Cardinal Fire Protection, we offer all levels of essential fire safety training for employees and we have been helping businesses across the West Midlands improve their staff’s fire safety awareness for years. Whether you are in retail, construction, leisure, education or manufacturing, our fire safety engineers know the industry specific areas that they need to focus on during the training to obtain the best results.
From the basics of fire knowledge (including our guide to BS5839) and how to act in the event of a fire to specialised fire marshal training, our fire safety training courses give your employees the tools, knowledge and skills they need to spot fire risks and react to fires in the most effective manner to prevent damage and save lives.
Get in touch with us today to book your training!