Keeping the workplace safe from fire is extremely important and all employees MUST have fire training. This isn’t simply a matter of learning how to use fire extinguishers and practising evacuations, although these are, of course, really important elements of any fire training, but it’s also important to include background information about fire and fire behaviour - a little bit of science. An increased awareness reduces the chance of a fire happening and increases the chances of survival if the worst happens.
So, to help understand fire and fire behaviour a good fire training programme will include some basic science - the science of fire.
For example, it sounds obvious, but fires rely on the presence of fuel, oxygen and heat, and to put a fire out you have to deprive it of one of these elements.This is why smothering a fire puts it out - it removes the oxygen. Understanding the logical reasons why to take steps such as these make fire safety easier to understand and therefore more memorable. Fire training
should cover these points.
When a fire is doused with water the water takes out the heat and this puts the fire out. However, if hot oil catches fire and you douse it with water the water will sink to the bottom of the pan (because water is heavier than oil), and the water becomes incredibly hot. The steam produced then forces the burning oil to burst upwards and outwards - making matters much worse - so NEVER try to put out this type of fire with water.
If there is enough fuel and oxygen to sustain it there are three ways in which a fire can spread through a workplace; conduction, convection and radiation.
Conduction is the movement of heat through a material, and metals are great conductors. For example, if a metal door handle is hot then there is heat on the other side of the door, and it should not be opened. Convection is the movement of heat through air currents. Smoke rises until it hits an obstruction, such as the ceiling, so the air near the floor is cooler and clearer, meaning it makes sense to keep low in smoky conditions. Radiation is when heat spreads from one object to another through an empty space, which is why it is important to keep fire doors closed. Smoke can spread very quickly through a building, usually ahead of a fire, so keeping fire doors closed also helps to stop smoke quickly spreading to escape routes.
Employees need to understand the importance of not tackling a fire unless it is safe to to so. A fire should only be tackled if one person can put it out with one fire extinguisher and if that person is confident that they are capable of doing so. Any time that person realises they can’t do it they must leave it and get out, safety comes first. An employee should never try to put a fire out with a fire extinguisher unless they know how to use it. Fire training will cover which types of fire extinguishers are for which types of fire, as using the wrong one can be worse than doing nothing at all.
An understanding of what to do if the worst does happen is also a vital element of good fire training: fire training must increase the chance of keeping staff safe. Knowing the best and safest route out, where the meeting point is, where the fire extinguishers are, how to raise the alarm, what the fire signs mean and how to evacuate safely must be included in a good fire training programme.
So before choosing fire training
for staff, make sure it contains all the important fire safety information, is clear, easy to understand and engaging. It must also be designed to hold attention, so that the information is easily and readily digested and retained. Interactivity ensures participation and a careful mix of video, graphics, animations, diagrams and text keeps interest high. The length must be not too long as to lose attention, but not too short as to miss out any important points. The fire training you choose has to make you feel staff will be safer, so your company will be safer too.