Is fire safety training a priority in your organisation?

If you’re an employer, you’ve a legal obligation to provide fire safety training to your employees. But sometimes there can be confusion over exactly what that involves. Most employers know they need to provide fire safety information, instruction and training – but aren’t very clear on how much is enough or if there’s a minimum amount they must provide. And with all the day-to-day activity taking up so much time and energy, finding the opportunity to deliver it can prove difficult.

Hopefully, I can offer some guidance here about what you need to consider to set you on your way.

The starting point: the induction

As a minimum, employers must provide basic fire safety training as part of the induction for new staff. The kind of information that needs covering includes things like emergency procedures and means of escape from the building. Training must be carried out by someone who is competent; that doesn’t mean you have to bring in a professional but it does mean your trainer must have suitable and sufficient fire safety skills and knowledge.

Building on the induction

A good induction helps ensure employees are prepared in the event of a fire breaking out. But as time goes on, recollections can fade about exactly what they should do and you need to make sure it stays uppermost in their mind.  So periodically you should factor in provision of refresher sessions. There are various things you can do. For example, you can arrange formal training to go over the main points that would have been covered at their induction, along with any new updates. You can conduct regular briefings as part of team meetings. You must also conduct fire drills to give people the chance to regularly practice evacuations.

Other fire safety training requirements really depend on the nature of the fire risks you have at your premises; the exact level and type of training can be determined by the outcomes and actions identified through your fire risk assessment. You might need more targeted courses depending on someone’s role and their level of fire safety responsibility. You might need to make people aware of the types of fire-fighting equipment on the premises along with any particular safety considerations if they had to use it. You may even need to deliver more specific training for use of equipment such as fire extinguishers, or for roles with particular fire safety responsibilities. The same rule applies as for the induction training – people need regular refreshers so the knowledge and skills don’t fade over time.

Are you struggling to get fire safety training higher up on your list of priorities?

You might find it helpful to think not only in terms of fire safety training as an ‘obligation’ on you as an employer. Refocus on its purpose. People feel pretty calm when they’re talking about fire and not actually facing it. But imagine if there was a fire in your premises. Your top priority is getting everyone out of the building as fast and as efficiently as you can. Picture what it could be like. It’s an emergency, it’s eliciting lots of emotions like fear, people aren’t thinking clearly. If they only have a hazy recollection of the evacuation process from their induction a long time ago, it’s going to get chaotic. If they were last shown how to use a fire extinguisher years ago, then suddenly find themselves in a situation where they need to get one off the wall and correctly tackle a fire with it…could they?

If they’ve had refresher training, and their knowledge and practical experience are up to date, then they are far better prepared to know how to respond.  

And fire safety training isn’t just about knowing what to do in an emergency. It’s all about understanding what steps can be taken to avoid a fire safety emergency too. It’s basic good business sense to protect your employees and your assets. It’s one of the wisest investments you can make.

Remember if time is at a premium or if you are still unsure about what you need to do, that’s what fire safety professionals are for. To help you! So if you need some general advice, or if you think your employees might need fire safety training and need someone to deliver it, please do get in touch.

Posted: 1st November 2018

Debbie Thomas