By Tony Jones, Engineering, Defence, Training and Rescue Manager with Wormald
Fire is a risk for every facility and can pose a serious threat to people, property and a business’ reputation. Whether you’re responsible for a large hotel, high-rise office block, small retail outlet or an industrial workshop, you need to know the risks and prepare accordingly.
In addition to having the correct fire protection systems and equipment in place, fire safety training must be provided to ensure each staff member knows how to respond in an emergency situation.
Emergency related training is a vital element of any fire prevention plan. The Australian Standard, AS 3745 – 2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities outlines the minimum requirements for the development of the emergency plan and also provides direction for the planning and implementation of an Emergency Planning Committee, Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) and emergency response procedures.
The Standard requires training to be completed by at least one member of the Emergency Planning Committee, for the Emergency Control Organisation and for the occupants. Members of the Emergency Control Organisation must also attend skills retention training every six months.
To give you an idea of what’s available, here are some of the courses offered by Wormald:
- Emergency Control Organisation Warden Training: In the event of a fire, a company’s fire warden has a considerable amount of responsibility for everyone’s wellbeing. This training equips wardens with the skills and knowledge to carry out their duties in an emergency situation and typically covers: emergency procedures, site familiarisation, understanding fire protection equipment and how to use fire extinguishers. There is also the opportunity to take this training further, for example addressing how a warden should respond in the event of a bomb threat or how to use the emergency warning and communication systems.
- Emergency Awareness Training: While not everyone within an office building has the same responsibilities as the warden and the Emergency Control Organisation team, all staff should have a basic understanding of how to react safely in an emergency situation. In the event of a fire, anyone could be required to help others safely out of the building. With emergency awareness training, trainees typically learn about the structure of the Emergency Control Organisation, alarm activation in the building, how to respond to emergencies and the location of assembly areas.
- Evacuation Training: Workplace evacuation exercises are designed to test how staff and occupants would evacuate in the event of an emergency. This training is typically conducted using the most likely emergency scenarios to occur in a particular workplace. The training can also help employees prepare to deal with the fear and panic associated with a fire and how to identify the quickest and safest ways to leave the building.
- Fire Extinguisher Training: Fire extinguishers are an essential element of fire safety in the workplace and require a level of expertise to be effective. Training can help to educate staff about the relevance of State fire safety regulations and develop operational techniques for using fire equipment in the workplace. If employees aren’t shown how to use the fire extinguishers located in their workplace, they can prove to be more of a hazard than a help in an emergency situation.
- Breathing Apparatus Training: This accredited training is relevant in industries where employees may find themselves in a toxic gas or oxygen deficient condition. Breathing apparatus training provides staff with skills on how to use a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus if required for respiratory protection.
- Spill Response Training: Employees who have spill kits installed in their workplace should receive proper information, instruction and training. Those exposed to hazardous liquid chemicals should be trained on how to attend to spills in a safe manner and utilise spill response materials. Staff must also be aware of the latest legislation as well as what components make up a spill kit and spill response procedures.
Fire safety training ensures that plans and procedures are in place and are ready to be put into action should an emergency situation arise. A confident team that is able to respond quickly in the event of a fire is an invaluable asset for any business. If you’re unsure of your responsibilities, it’s a good idea to do some research or talk to your fire protection specialist.