Fire Safety Project of the Year: The Home Fire Safety Check tool developed by Safelincs in conjunction with the National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) and Fire Kills, has been recognised for its innovation and importance at the national Fire & Security Matters awards. This free online resource has been created for fire services to assist the public with home fire safety. It also enables fire services to identify homes which may need more support.
For the ‘Fire Safety Project of the Year’ award, 14 finalist organisations were invited to the black-tie awards evening. Safelincs are incredibly proud to have received this award in recognition of our contribution to this important public resource.
What is the ‘Fire Safety Project of the Year’ Award?
This award category recognises a project which has delivered significant improvements to fire safety in relation to people and/or premises. Judgement is based on how the project has made a positive impact, including evidence of measurable improvement to fire safety.
This award recognises the time and expertise donated to this project by Safelincs. It reflects their commitment to the HFSC tool, which has already begun to impact the prevention of domestic fires. The free to use tool allows Fire Services to support the public to carry out fire safety audits in their homes. Individuals can identify whether they need support, while receiving personalised fire safety advice.
Upon receiving this prestigious award, Rik Stuart, Web Developer for the project has said “Safelincs are immensely proud and honoured to receive the Fire & Security Matters Fire Safety Project of the Year award for the Online Home Fire Safety Check. This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Safelincs, the National Fire Chiefs Council and Fire Kills in providing an online system that continues to identify those at risk of fire and provides fire safety advice to homes in England.”
What is the HFSC?
The HFSC tool is an interactive assessment tool with which the general public can assess the risks of home fires. It offers personalised fire safety advice, while referring households at significant risk to their local fire service for additional support. The tool enables fire services to use their resources effectively, and to provide guidance to vulnerable households that it identifies.
“We are extremely proud of all the hard work, innovation and commitment shown by our team to deliver a bespoke cost-saving solution to our National Fire and Rescue Services. This award reflects that effort, and provides them with the recognition that they deserve. It has been our pleasure to work with the National Fire Chief’s Council over the last few years on this project, and to donate our development team’s time and resources in support of their hard work and effort. We are committed to providing the NFCC with support and expertise long into the future to support their ambitions, and improve fire safety support for the general public.”
Stuart Baxter, Managing Director
The Role of the HFSC in Fire Prevention
The HFSC has become a valuable resource for fire services in England. Since the launch of this tool, more than 62% of fire services in the UK have already ‘onboarded’. A further 19% are in the process of ‘onboarding’; 96% of all UK fire services have shown an interest. Between September 2021 and March 2023, 38,128 individuals used the tool, enabling FRSs to reach a larger group of people and clearly identify vulnerable households. Other agencies, such as the ambulance service, carers and housing associations, are now using the tool to assess the level of fire risk within the households they have contact with.
Safelincs strives to provide essential public resources for the improvement of fire safety. This award reflects not only Safelincs’ ethos, but their rising impact across the fire safety industry.
Health and safety training is a legal requirement. The specific training required will depend on each employee’s role, and the risks identified within the business. It is vital that businesses get health and safety right; getting it wrong can lead to fines, production downtime, and could cost someone their life. Here we explore your duties as a business owner, manager, or the responsible person within your organisation.
Type of training, and how often training should be carried out, will depend upon the level of risk identified in the workplace risk assessment. This should cover fire safety, processes and practices, equipment and the people within the business, including visitors.
Providing staff with the correct health and safety training ensures safe working practices, prevents injuries, and fosters a positive H&S culture.
Do all employees need manual handling training?
Under UK legislation, employers must ensure their staff are adequately trained to competently carry out their roles. If a role includes any task which requires moving a load by carrying, pulling, pushing, lifting or lowering, manual handling training is required. This training promotes good lifting techniques and encourages the use of mechanical aids to reduce the risk of injury. The course covers the aspects of Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. This equips staff with the skills to carry out risk assessments before lifting/carrying, further reducing the risk of injury.
Is first aid training a legal requirement?
Under the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981, employers are legally responsible for arranging immediate care for any employee who has an accident or becomes unwell at work, including having adequate equipment, facilities and designated staff. The requirements to fulfil this duty will depend upon the findings of the business’s risk assessment. If one or more appointed first aiders are found to be required, adequate first aid training must be provided.
What first aid training is required?
Depending on the risks identified in the workplace, it may be necessary to enrol first aiders in adult and paediatric first aid courses, as well as an AED (defibrillator) and CPR course. First aid training ensures competence and confidence for first responders, ensuring effective care can be given in an emergency. Practical first aid training provides delegates with on experience, and the opportunity to have their questions answered.
It is important to note that there are different levels of first aid. This includes emergency first aid at work (one-day course) and first aid at work (a more in-depth three-day course). You need to decide which type of training your first aiders will require. Often small and low-risk environments only need to have someone trained in emergency first aid at work. On the other hand, large and high-risk businesses will require at least one staff member to have completed a first aid at work course.
Employers are required by law to ensure that all staff have adequate fire safety training. This training will improve the day-to-day safety of your building by enabling staff to identify and regulate fire risks. This reduces the risk of fire, and equip staff with the skills effectively respond in the event of a fire.
What fire safety training is required?
All new staff must receive information about fire safety within your organisation. This fire safety awareness training course will help them to understand and identify potential fire risks, and how to respond in the event of a fire. All employees must be informed of fire risks in the workplace, and fire drills must be carried out at least once annually.
Under the 2005 Fire Safety Order, it is a legal requirement for all businesses to have at least one fire marshal. The specific number of fire marshals required will depend upon the findings of the business’s fire risk assessment. All staff members with fire marshal responsibilities must be provided with appropriate fire marshal training. This training teaches delegates the role of a Fire Marshal and their responsibilities. It also explains current legislation and the steps that must be taken in the event of a fire.
Organisations have a legal duty of care for all people on the premises at any given time. Responsible persons must consider any disability, injury or impairment in mobility, even if it is a temporary state. This includes, for example, heavily pregnant women, people with special needs, bariatric people, and those with limited mobility. To understand necessary measures to safely facilitate an emergency evacuation, a personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) needs to be completed, and the required measures implemented. It may be necessary to provide specific evacuation equipment such as evacuation chairs, evacuation sheets and sledges.
Do employees need evacuation training?
Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 businesses and organisations have responsibilities to ensure that equipment is suitable, maintained, and only used by trained staff. Evac+Chair Training is essential for staff in buildings where an Evac+Chair is fitted. These devices provide a lifeline for staff and visitors with disabilities and mobility impairments in the event of a fire or other emergency.
When is evacuation sheet training required?
Evacuation sheets are usually installed in buildings where a bariatric person may need to be evacuated. Some sheets and sledges can carry weights up to 2600kg – more than 10 times the capacity of a bariatric Evac+Chair. These specialist devices should also be fitted where a bedridden person will need evacuation, such as hospitals and care homes. These devices are specifically for vulnerable people for whom evacuation chairs are not suitable. Evacuation Sheet Training ensures that the vulnerable person can be safely evacuated, and that users are not at risk of injuring themselves.
Q. What are the benefits of in-person fire safety training and first aid training?
A. Having face-to-face training can help delegates focus better. It gives them the opportunity to build a rapport with the trainer, giving them the confidence to ask questions. In-person courses often have practical elements to them, which help to consolidate theory and put into practice what is being taught. Practice under supervision gives an increased confidence when having to utilise the knowledge in an emergency.
Q. How many first aiders does my business need?
A. The number of first aiders required depends upon the number of employees and risk level of a workplace.
Moreover, low-risk environments include most offices and shops, while construction sites and railways would be considered high-risk. Usually, at least one appointed person is required for a low-hazard environment with fewer than 25 employees. Conversely, one appointed person is required for a high-hazard environment with fewer than 5 employees. For more advice to determine the number of first aiders your business requires, go to https://www.hse.gov.uk/firstaid/first-aid-training.htm.
Q. What health and safety training should my employer provide?
Employers have a legal duty to provide health and safety training enabling all employees to carry out their work safely. The type of training and who needs to undertake the training will be defined in the business risk assessments.
Manual handling training is required for anyone who needs to move a load by carrying, pulling, pushing, lifting, or lowering.
First aid training should be provided to the designated first aiders to care for staff in the event of injury or illness at work. The type of first aid course and the number of first aiders will depend on the level of risk and number of staff.
Fire awareness training, including being made aware of the building’s fire safety and evacuation procedures, is required for all new employees and periodically thereafter.
Fire Marshal training is required for designated staff to ensure the safe and speedy evacuation of the premises in an emergency.
Evacuation device training is required for appointed staff who would be expected to operate an evacuation chair or evacuation sledge or sheet in an emergency.
During the pandemic, funding became available for schools in Scotland and Wales to improve air circulation and reduce the spread of the virus. SAMHE, a government backed research project monitoring air quality in schools, is keen to further investigate the consequences of poor air quality on pupils’ health and concentration. With this issue high on the agenda, we look at how to identify poor air quality and the simple measures available to improve ventilation in schools where action is required.
Identifying Issues: Monitoring Air Quality in Schools
SAHME is offering a free air quality monitor to schools across the UK. The devices measure carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) particulate matter (PM), temperature and relative humidity, with data available to both teachers and pupils. The data from each monitor is also recorded on a national database, available to SAHME, which will be analysed to understand and improve long-term air quality for all schools.
Schools in the scheme which monitor trends in air quality across their site will be able to identify areas in which ventilation improvements need to be made. SAHME acknowledges that in some areas, mechanical ventilation systems may be required. For many areas, however, natural ventilation from opening windows and doors is enough to reduce air pollutants to acceptable levels.
Improve air circulation with a fire door retainer
Fire doors are critical to any building’s infrastructure, but they can be a barrier to good air circulation. Propping or wedging open fire doors, or cutting the bottom off a fire door is, however, illegal, and could be dangerous as the door may fail to prevent the spread of fire.
Fireco’s Pro Fire Door Retainer System can improve ventilation without compromising fire safety. The fire door retainer devices hold fire doors open safely, allowing air to circulate throughout the building. Dorgard Pro and Freedor Pro retainers can be used to hold doors open at any angle, allowing for adjustments during colder months. Doors are released to close as soon as the fire alarm sounds, protecting pupils, staff and property.
The fire door retainer devices are wireless and battery-operated, meaning they can be installed with minimum disruption. In nurseries, primary schools, SEN schools, and other noisy environments, the Pro system is ideal. The ProHub control panel is hardwired directly into the building’s fire alarm panel which eliminates the possibility of false activations.
Allow ventilation with an intumescent grill
Air flow can be increased in schools by installing fire-proof ventilation grilles into fire doors. This should only be done after checking that the fire door can be adapted to include intumescent grilles. Due to the varying construction of fire doors, some doors cannot be safely altered in this way. Some doors may need an additional hard wood liner fitted in the newly-created aperture. Fire doors that require cold smoke seals may not be suitable for installing intumescent grilles. As the grilles rely on heat from fire to activate them to swell, cold smoke may be able to pass through before this happens. Always consult your fire risk assessment for the type of seals that are required before having work carried out on your fire doors. Any work to fire doors should be carried out by a competent person.
Air transfer vents fitted into fire doors should always be fire-rated. Intumescent grilles are specially designed to swell when exposed to heat, closing the gap and maintaining the fire resistance of the door. A standard air transfer vent would not do this and so would invalidate the fire door certification and fail to stop the spread of fire.
Is it safe to cut the bottom off a fire door to improve ventilation?
Fire doors should never be cut to improve ventilation. The maximum gap under a fire door is 8-10mm depending on the door specification. A gap any larger than that could result in the door failing to prevent the spread of fire. Some fire doors can be trimmed to fit if they are too tall for the door opening. Always consult the manufacturer to ensure it is possible to trim the door without affecting its fire rating. Great care should be taken when altering fire doors so that the door certification is not invalidated.
Are fire door retainers suitable for external fire doors?
No, fire door retainers are not suitable for external use. However, it is worth noting that in many cases, final exit doors do not need to be fire rated. If existing external/final exit doors are not fire rated, they are not fire doors. These can therefore remain open to improve a classroom’s ventilation.
There is no solution for retaining final exit doors which are also fire rated. If ventilation is insufficient in this instance, a mechanical ventilation system may be required.