Fire Extinguishers

Too many fire extinguishers
Don’t get me wrong there are many qualified and extremely professional fire-safety engineers across Britain unfortunately though there are also many cowboys. When looking to provide extinguishers for a business it seems to make sense to ask an extinguisher company to tell you what you need. However the employment model for many companies is to pay engineers a very basic wage and a high commission which serves only to incentivise over-specification. It is a point well made in this blog from Harrogate Fire Extinguishers.

The best approach would be to carry out a fire risk assessment first. It is a mandatory requirement anyway so why not have a risk assessment carried out first? The result of the assessment should provide the answers relating to your extinguisher provision i.e. how many, in what positions, numbers and even if you need them at all.

It’s sad to acknowledge that fire safety companies may not be competent or highly incentivised to sell but it’s often the case.  So having an assessment first is one good approach if however you do want approach an extinguisher company then look for third-part approvals such as BAFE, FIA or FPA. Ask if staff are qualified and have undertaken FETA / FIA training and get more than one quotation. Ask how long the company has been in business.

It is extremely important that you have good fire-safety provision but it is not acceptable to be ripped-off in the name of compliance.

extinguisher training coursesUK fire safety legislation requires that adequate fire safety training is provided. Therefore if you have extinguishers then those people who are allowed and expected to use the extinguishers must receive adequate training.

So what etype of extinguisher training course should you choose? Well if budget is no no object then the best form is of course hands-on practical training. However this can prove costly and difficult to put in place. On a one off basis practical training is very achievable but the law requires staff to receive training on induction which can be a challenge. Not only would training just one member of staff be costly but also difficult to organise such detailed training for such small numbers.

There are therefore various alternatives, online training, extinguisher training DVD’s and even training books and guides. Each have their merit but with any form of training what is important is that a test-of-knowledge is undertaken and an arbitrary pass mark established.

You can click to visit a site that caters for all these [ extinguisher training courses ].

fire extinguisher training online
Online Fire Extinguisher Training

The Fire Safety Order is clear that where extinguishers are provided then fire extinguisher training must be provided too. Most people would agree that hands-on training is the ideal. However the ideal can prove difficult and expensive to implement for the average business.
A more pragmatic view therefore may be that any training (e.g. book, video, DVD or online) is preferable to none at all. Legally though an issue exists around what could be accepted as ‘training’. It is fairly clear that merely reading or viewing training (video based or real) without a test of knowledge and understanding is unlikely to be accepted as training.

A DVD with an integrated test is therefore good but perhaps better would be interactive fire extinguisher training online. Online extinguisher training can offer video tutorials, interactive revision and finally a multiple-choice examination with minimum pass mark. It also allows training to be inexpensive and simple to deliver to all staff, negating the necessity to bring everyone together in one place at one time. Online training is truly flexible and allows employees in different locations and with different shift patterns to undertake the training at a time that suits both employee and employer. It also provides printable pass results for company fire-safety records.
One such example can be found at this site http://www.lalors.co.uk/

For UK businesses what legally represents ‘Fire Extinguisher Training’?

 
Fire extinguisher demonstration
 
 

 

What is clear under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is that when you provide extinguishers for your staff then they must be trained to use them. Training must take place on induction to the company and at regular intervals thereafter.
This is one of the most frequently non-compliant areas of fire-safety legislation for the vast majority of British businesses. The problems are obvious:

1 - It is logistically difficult to organise a large group of staff to take part in practical extinguisher training.

2 - It is cost restrictive (anywhere from £30 - £120 per head).

3 - Organising practical training for one person (on induction) is even more costly and many trainers have a minimum number of trainees before they will offer their services.

The alternative of a fire-extinguisher training DVD therefore seems more practical. It is certainly more cost effective and much easier to deliver to groups and more particularly single inductees.
Obviously it does not hold the currency of physical hands-on training but compared to what most companies settle for ‘Nothing’ – it is perhaps the best alternative. Factor into this also the ability to get most fire-extinguisher servicing companies to deliver ad hoc and free training when extinguishers are due a discharge / extended service and as a whole this becomes quite a reasonable approach.
So far so good eh? – However simply playing a training DVD would be most unlikely to pass for ‘training’ in a court of law. The trainees could have chosen to watch it and take everything onboard or alternatively daydreamed the time away enjoying the paid break from work. Then there are the trainees who watched it avidly but misunderstood or just plain got it wrong. Training without ‘a test of understanding’ is just not training.
Therefore a fire-extinguisher video training course / DVD should be accompanied by supporting test materials and have a minimum pass mark to prove competency. If you don’t pass you can’t use the extinguishers.

This is an example of just such a DVD 

 

fire extinguisher training
Many businesses recognise the requirement to have portable fire-fighting equipment but the vast majority are untrained or poorly trained. Fire-safety legislation requires that persons who are able to use extinguishers are trained to do so.

When carrying out fire risk assessments we ask ‘Have your staff been trained in the use of extinguishers?’ Nine out of ten answer in the affirmative but when we then test understanding a similar ratio prove to have poor or insufficient knowledge.

What people regard as training differs greatly from reading the instructions on the extinguisher through watching a DVD or very often by listening to a quick run through from the extinguisher chap!

As with many aspects of the ‘Fire Safety Order 2005’ just a token gesture towards compliance will hold no water in a court of law. Assuming that the ‘extinguisher chap’ is qualified to train you can be a big mistake. When choosing any fire-safety supplier, whether a service or a training provider, then you must prove due-diligence in your choice of contractor. Government guidelines suggest the easiest proof of due-diligence is via third-party certification schemes such as BAFE or FETA.

Training without any test of knowledge has little value therefore merely playing a DVD to staff would not suffice. Watching a presentation then having to achieve a minimum pass mark on a test afterwards may well be acceptable.

There is however no substitute for the real thing and live, real-time training delivers the best results.

Training cannot be a one-off ‘been there – done that’ experience. It must be re-delivered at appropriate intervals and whenever circumstances change within a workplace.

Fire safety training, like all safety training, is a positive boon to everyone whether they are in the workplace or not. Much like first-aid training it should be taught in schools. A topic covered well in this blog entitled ‘The Importance of First Aid Training’.

If you walked around the corner in a hotel tomorrow to discover a small fire between you and the lift would then be a good time to start learning which of the three available extinguishers to use?

fire safety checks weekkly and monthlyEven when businesses have carried out their own fire risk assessment many of them mistakenly underestimate the amount of records they should keep. The vast majority of UK businesses, if inspected tomorrow, would fail a fire-safety inspection due to insufficient checks and record keeping.
“Do you test your fire alarm weekly?” we ask – “Weekly?” comes the reply. The fire-safety order requires certain fire and emergency provisions to be checked regularly. Some checks have a weekly frequency, others monthly and even some daily!
Here is a list of fire-protection provisions and there required inspection frequency:

Fire Alarm – Daily Check by user no recording required.
Fire Alarm – Weekly test by user and recording in fire-safety log.
Emergency Lights – Monthly test by user and recording in fire-safety log.
Fire Extinguishers - Monthly test by user and recording in fire-safety log.

The fire-alarm daily check is visual inspection of the control panel to ensure there are no faults displaying.
Fire-alarm weekly test requires the user to operate a call-point (different point each week) and ensure the system operates correctly and can be heard throughout. The test should occur at the same time each week so that occupants are aware that it is indeed a test. The test should then be recorded in the fire-safety logbook. Should any faults be present then this and the remedial action planned should also be recorded.
Emergency light monthly tests require the user to test every emergency light in the building. This is not a duration test and requires the user to note merely that the light successfully lit. This is usually achieved via operation of a test-key facility. The test should then be recorded in the fire-safety logbook. As with fire alarms should any faults be present then this and any remedial action required should also be recorded.
Fire Extinguisher monthly inspections require the user to inspect every extinguisher in the building. The inspection involves checking the following: Is the extinguisher mounted on its bracket? – Is it under the correct sign? – Is the pin in? Is the anti-tamper tag in place? If there is a pressure gauge is it reading in the green band? Are the extinguisher operation instructions, on the body, legible? Again the test should be recorded in the fire-safety logbook and any faults present and remedial action planned should also be recorded.
This is the most common failing in fire-safety provision yet the most easily discovered by an investigating body.