or a fire safety programme to be effective, staff must be familiar with the parts of the fire safety programme which relate to them. Comprehensive instruction and training should be given to staff to enable them to carry out their functions under the programme. All staff should receive instruction in:
- Everyday fire prevention measures
- Emergency procedures
- First aid fire fighting
All staff should receive a written copy of the emergency procedures and of the procedures for any other task that has been delegated to them in the event of fire. All staff should also receive some instruction in the use of first aid fire fighting equipment. Where a specific fire fighting team has been set up those who have been designated for the team will require further instruction and training with the fire fighting equipment.
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Fire Safety Register:
The Fire Safety Manager who is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the fire safety programme should keep a Fire Safety Register as a complete record of all fire safety matters on the premises. The following information should be recorded in the register:-
- the name of the Fire Safety Manager, and those nominated to deputise for him/her;
- the details of specific fire duties that have been assigned to staff;
- the details of instruction and training given to staff, and by whom;
- the date of each fire and evacuation drill and results of exercises held;
- the type, number and location of fire protection equipment in the premises, including water supplies, hydrants etc.;
- the date of each inspection of the building itself, its fittings and services and the actions taken to remedy any defects found;
- details of all fire incidents and false alarms that occur and the actions taken as a result.
The register will serve as a record and also as a checklist for the Fire Safety Manager to ensure that checks and training which are required are being carried out on an ongoing basis
Fire may still occur in spite of good fire prevention procedures. Advance planning should be carried out to minimise the cost and disruption of a fire. While insurance will cover the material loss, loss of customers and suppliers and other consequential losses may ultimately cause the failure of the company. Damage control plans should address the procedures required before, during and after the fire.
Before the fire:
A damage control team consisting of the key personnel from the different departments within the organisation should be established. Their task would be to examine the consequences of possible incidents and to formulate a planned response to the incidents.
A response team should be established whose task it is to carry out damage limitation work during and immediately after a fire.
A list of outside agencies whose services could be required in the event of fire should be compiled and maintained. This list could include building contractors, plant hire companies, fire engineering firms, estate agents, insurance brokers etc.
The building itself should be examined and modified where necessary to mitigate the affects of a fire. Assuming active and passive fire precaution measures have been put in place, issues such as ventilation and drainage should be considered. All vulnerable stock should be stored clear of the floor in racking or on pallets.
During the fire:
Work to prevent any extension of fire/water damage should begin as early as possible. When the Fire Service are in attendance this work will be carried out at the discretion of the officer in charge at the fire.
Work will primarily be aimed at preventing consequential water damage. Machinery and stock should be covered with plastic sheeting. Dams placed across doorways or at other areas will prevent water from flowing into unaffected areas. Drains which may become blocked with fire debris should be cleared.
Stock in danger from the fire may be moved from the area if safe to do so.
After the fire:
The level of work required after the fire will depend on the extent of damage and the following should be considered.
Temporary repairs to roofs and window openings should be carried out to make the building weather tight.
Debris should be checked for any recoverable items and then cleared away.
Water should be pumped from basements, pits and lift wells.
Machinery and equipment involved in a fire will deteriorate quickly even if they have not been directly wetted. Machinery should be cleaned, dried and coated with oil as early as possible. Contaminated electronic equipment should be and cleaned as early as possible. Information is available on the cleaning of such equipment and some specialised firms may undertake this cleaning.
The guidance set out above should not be taken as a legal interpretation of the legislation applying to fire safety in any particular building type. It is offered as general guidance to those who are tasked with developing a fire safety programme in their organisation.
Water extinguishers are suited for most fires except:
Flammable liquids - adding water to a burning liquid will only help to spread the fire.
Electrical equipment - water is a very lethal conductor of electricity and could cause injury
Dry powder is suited to fires involving flammable liquids and electrical appliances.
How does powder put out a fire?
Simple. Fire needs three things to keep it going - Heat, Fuel and Oxygen. The powder smothers the fire and stops it getting the oxygen it needs - putting it out.
Like the powder extinguishers, this type of extinguisher is suitable for flammable liquids and electrical equipment.
It also works in the same way. By swamping the fire with Carbon Dioxide (CO²), it can't get enough Oxygen and so goes out.
People work the same way. We need Oxygen to breathe and when we breathe out - most of the gas we breathe out is Carbon Dioxide. We would not be able to survive long if the major gas in the air was Carbon Dioxide.
This extinguisher is suited to most fire involving flammable liquids. Again, it works by smothering the fire, rather than cooling down and damping the flames.