We all know we should undertake regular fire safety training and fire drills, but questions rear their heads as regular as clockwork.
The Business Owner: Why Do I Need To Provide Fire Training?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) requires all business owners to provide and manage, as part of your Health and Safety provision:
- A Fire Risk Assessment
- A Fire Safety Policy
- Fire Procedures (such as evacuation)
- Staff Training
- Fire Drills
The Order also requires business owners to appoint a ‘competent person’, a trained and knowledgeable staff member who is responsible for to carry out firefighting duties including escape drills and overseeing maintenance of all firefighting equipment. In addition, if your business employs more than four members of staff, you must make a record of your fire safety policy, fire safety procedures and your training drills.
This may all seem very daunting to a small business, but never fear, help is at hand from Fire Protection Online! Business owners have a wide range of training opportunities available to provide expert training either at or outside the workplace.
The Staff Member: Why Do I Need Fire Safety Training?
In a nutshell, for your own safety! Equipping yourself with the necessary knowledge and training could not only enable you to escape from an emergency situation quicker, but also enable you to tackle small fires in both the workplace and your home. The best fire safety equipment available is as good as useless if nobody knows how to use it when it’s needed most.
Which Fire Training Methods Are Best?
At this point, as the advert says, here comes the science. We don’t all learn in the same way. Now that’s probably not new news to most, but Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) provides an answer as to why. Generally, we assimilate information in three major ways:
- By sight (Visual)
- By listening (Auditory)
- By feel (Kinesthetic)
Each of us tends to have one dominant way of assimilating information, our favourite learning style. Consider how you travel from A to B. Do you prefer to look at the map (Visual), hear someone give verbal directions (Auditory) or go by gut instinct (Kinesthetic)?
What this boils down to is that different members of your staff may respond to different methods of information delivery. So, in considering fire training, you want to cover all three types of learning styles. Luckily, this is easily achieved if you plan your fire training properly.
External Fire Training Courses
This is a great way to train your staff, free from the distractions of the everyday routine. Good off-site fire training courses will combine video elements (Visual), lectures (Auditory) and practical hands-on experiences (Kinesthetic), that tick all three learning style boxes. Several commercial firms around the country offer such courses throughout the year. Check the syllabus to ensure that the course does offer information suitable for all three NLP learning styles.
Internal Fire Training Courses
Your business may not be able to afford either the cost or time for external training courses, so you or your competent person can devise your own training from the variety of resources on offer.
Fire Training DVDs
There are now some seriously good DVD training aids, that combine video elements with some interactive questions, etc. However, don’t just buy a system, and instruct staff to sit in front of a computer screen and ‘learn it.’ Your Visual staff will probably cope, but your Auditory won’t be impressed, and your Kinesthetics will feel bored and uninspired.
Instead, show the DVDs as part of a group course. Encourage discussion and participation, so the Visuals can talk through with the Auditorys and the Kinesthetics. Combine book-based learning with a talk from a Fire Officer or similar, to broaden the delivery of knowledge.
Practical Fire Training
You must include the practical element for your Kinesthetics, and your Visuals will learn from seeing what happens, whilst the Auditorys will hear what happens too. Nothing beats the experience of actually getting your hands on a real fire extinguisher, feeling its weight and the force when it is triggered. (No prizes for guessing this author’s preferred learning style!).
So, when you replace your outdated fire extinguishers with new ones from Fire Protection Online, keep the OK-to-use-but-outdated fire extinguishers. These are ideal for training days, allowing staff to experience actual use of a variety of extinguishers. Just remember to try them out in areas where it is easy to clear up the mess afterwards, and safely dispose of any spent foam or powder.
Why Fire Drills Work
As if to prove there is nothing new under the sun, consider how a fire drill actually works. A signal is given by a siren sounding, probably reinforced by instructions to evacuate (Auditory). Your staff (and visitors) follow a pre-determined fire escape route by following signs (Visuals), often along a staircase or route they do not normally take and which feels different (Kinesthetics). ALL these elements are crucial to the drill’s success, from recognising what the fire alarm sounds like, reading the signs, and experiencing walking the actual escape route to the final muster point. So, make sure your business takes them seriously, so your staff appreciate what invaluable training this is, and not just a ten-minute break out in the sunshine…
What Fire Drills Reveal
Fire drills are also invaluable for flagging up potential issues in your fire safety provision.
- Did the alarm sound clearly in all parts of your building?
- Were the fire exit signs clearly visible to all your staff?
- Did any staff get confused or lost on the way to the muster point?
- Did they encounter any unforeseen obstacles on their way?
The findings of any fire drill can form a valuable update to your Fire Risk Assessment, and help keep your staff both safe and vigilant.