It is required under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order that every commercial organisation nominates a ‘responsible person’ to oversee the fire safety standards of the premises. This includes checking for correct installation and maintenance of fire detection and combating equipment, performing risk assessments, and carrying out regular fire drills to uphold safety standards.
In respect to office environments, the type and severity of fire risks present are constantly changing, making the responsible person’s role that much more important. Fire warden training is the best way to ensure that sufficient education as to the best way to approach the task is made available, but it can still be difficult for a trained warden to remember every aspect of the role.
Fortunately, there are a number of useful resources available online that help when it comes to prompting the memory. One such resource is the unique mini-site created by Elite Fire Protection, How to Defend your Office when the Dragons Attack.
With each page showing a different area of a standard office building, the interactive Elite Fire site uses the scenario of a dragon attack to help to point out and emphasise the most important facets of fire safety.
The first page sees a desk area, with a couple of safety elements around. On the wall is a fire alarm, with the text stating that these should be well maintained and tested regularly, often on a weekly basis in an office where central control panels tend to be part of the system.
The fire extinguisher present must be suited to the most likely fuel involved in a fire at the premises – e.g. water extinguishers for Class A fires (combustible solids) and dry powder/CO2 for Class E fires (electrical). Proper upkeep is again vital, with annual checks for corrosion and other faults necessary.
On the following page, the scene moves into the staircase of the office building. Here, emergency lighting is evident on the walls. In the event of a fire, main power to a building can often go down, and darkness and smoke make visibility difficult. That’s why emergency lighting becomes so important, illuminating the way to emergency exits.
The fire door also present in this scene, along with its accompanying fire exit sign, are other crucial considerations for fire wardens. Correct signage indicates which doors are used as emergency exits – vital for any visitors to the building – and these areas should be kept clear of obstruction at all times. Fire doors should be self-closing, and include an intumescent seal to prevent smoke and flames from spreading between rooms.
On the final page, the office’s inhabitants can be seen outside the building carrying out a fire drill. Designating a route of escape and an assembly point is a key part of the fire warden’s role. Once assembled, a register should be taken to determine if any persons remain inside the building.
The pile of rubbish in front of the fire exit not only represents an obstruction to those attempting to escape the building, it also provides fuel for a possible blaze to break out in this area – whether through accidental means or via arson. Regular rubbish collection services must be obtained to prevent this danger.
The fire warden seen taking guiding the fire drill has undergone sufficient training for the role by a professional and competent expert in the industry, such as Elite Fire. Training can be carried out for multiple persons (recommended for businesses with high staff numbers), and essential for upholding fire safety levels – not to mention legal obligations.
Author – Elite Fire London