Pauline Holloway, Director at Vulcan Fire Training gives her point of view on the recent fires that have occurred and outlines the factors of fire safety to ensure a safe working environment.
There are always fires, of varying degrees, taking place and I wonder how many of those affected by the fires ever thought it would happen to them?
From a personal point of view, the recent dreadful fire in Serbia, in which it seems the exit doors were locked, prompted me to think about a local business that regularly have emergency exits locked. Something which I have informed the owners about in the past.
One establishment has a back door for clients to enter, which on occasions is locked, and when I raised this as a potential risk the manager informed me that the door had a turn-key so that anyone inside could get out. It makes me wonder if in other instances managers think this is acceptable.
Staff would know there is a turnkey, but what about clients that are leaving the building in a hurry because of an alarm or actual fire? With a number of people likely to be trying to exit at once, this could potentially lead to fatalities.
The second instance, local to me, is a premises with two entry points. Staff at the business would prefer clients to enter through one door, so that they can see arrivals from the reception desk. This means the other door, an emergency exit, is locked. There is a kitchen close to this escape route, and should the kitchen catch fire, anyone in the area would have to pass this on their way out of the building, putting themselves in considerable danger.
These are just two examples that I have come across, and I’m sure there are many establishments throughout the country with similar situations. I feel that it’s our responsibility to make the point more forcefully to these establishments to make managers more focused on their responsibilities and the potential risks involved, especially considering the recent fire in Russia.
One of our trainers took the photo above, of a warehouse fire near to where he lives, which occurred recently. The fire ripped through the middle of the premises and luckily no-one was hurt, however the companies involved have lost their stock, which means there are employees that no longer have jobs. This shows the disastrous effect fires can have.
Back to one of the points we mentioned earlier, a Vulcan Fire Training employee was recently in hospital, and we subsequently found out that on the the day they were discharged, there was a fire. It just goes to show that fire can happen at any time, any place. It does not pay to be complacent, and think that it always happens elsewhere.
It is important that the workforce understands the principles of fire awareness and how they should act in the event of a fire, as well as someone within an organisation taking fire safety responsibilities for ensuring a safe working environment, this is a statutory requirement under current legislation.
Director Vulcan Fire Training