Many people don’t realise that they could be required by law to complete fire warden or awareness training. Understandably, considering all the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business, it’s probably the last thing on your mind. But by not complying with UK health and safety laws, you could be putting both you and your employees in danger. The Regulatory Reform Order of 2005 requires that employers provide adequate information, instruction and training for all members of staff. You should nominate someone in authority, possibly yourself, to take on the responsibility of warden to ensure these safety practices are adhered to.
If you’re often not on the business premises, it’s best to nominate someone who is there on a daily basis – such as a manager or trusted assistant. In order for them to take on these responsibilities, they will need to undertake a short training course so they know the correct procedures to follow in an emergency. It’s a good idea to make all of your employees aware of your businesses’ action plan in the event of a fire, including who is in charge of ushering people out of the building, who will take a register and ensure no one is trapped inside, and where all employees and staff should meet once they have safely evacuated the premises. You should also practice regular drills to make sure your employees are prepared should an emergency actually occur. You should aim to do these at least once a year, or once every few month if you work in a large, multi-story building where an escape route may need further planning and practice. Once you have nominated your fire warden, they should attend both awareness training and warden training. It’s a good idea to attend an awareness course as a group, so that everyone is made aware of their responsibilities. Your team should then receive a group certificate containing the names of each attendee. Both training courses can normally be completed within a morning or afternoon, so there is no need for your employees to miss a whole day of work. If you employee a large number of people, you may decide to nominate more than one person to take part. This is advisable if your company operates across several different locations. Bear in mind that most of these courses will only run if there is a minimum of 12 delegates in attendance. If you don’t have this many people in your employ, you can usually join forces with other businesses to make up numbers – this could even provide a great networking opportunity.
The warden course is highly practical, allowing trainees to work with a fire simulator that is both safe and incredibly realistic. This will provide an accurate representation of the heat produced, and how to go about combatting it. Students will also be able to practice using water and CO2 extinguishers to help them prepare for a real life scenario. As well as this practical element, the course will also include a theory presentation from the trainer that will educate your employees in an interesting and engaging way. As well as teaching your team valuable, potentially life-saving practices, it will also be a great team building activity, inviting a change from their usual day-to-day responsibilities. When researching courses in your area, it’s important to find one that has been approved by the Institute of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM) to ensure that it complies with British Safety Standards. Start by looking online for course providers who have been approved by the British Fire Services Association or the Institute of Prevention Officers.