Fire Extinguisher Training: if at first you don’t succeed

Fire Extinguisher TrainingIt takes a particularly patience US Fire Chief to be called out to the same location eight times since May 2008, and state that “Every time we go out, we can learn from that. Each time is a training experience.”

Fire Chief Mike Kobel’s patch is the Eastern Prairie district of Champaign, Illinois, and his particular bétè noir is a disused grain elevator, just across the street from his fire station.

The old grain elevator and the silos are being reclaimed by crews of contractors, and this process is when Chief Kobel’s problems started. Kobel was quoted in the local News Gazette, explaining that when the crews use cutting torches to remove parts, the flames ignite remnants of grain, their oils, and grain dusts, resulting in the smoldering fires.

Kobel is also resigned to the particular problems of fires involving dried organic produce: “Last week, we put several hundred gallons on one area. We knocked it down and the smoke quit. Rest assured, when you’re dealing with a pile of grain, it’s going to start smoking again.”

Site owner Chris Knipfer told the newspaper that he often doesn’t even know about fires at the grain elevator until the fire engine arrives, as the alarm has been raised by drivers on the nearby interstate highway, spotting smoke.

Chief Kobel is certainly using the grain elevator fires as an excellent source of training for his volunteer force of firefighters – and the contractors. He has instructed all contractors on site to put out smaller fires using fire extinguishers, whilst his crew make the most of each incident as training for a potentially major emergency.

For example, when their fire truck was called to a recent incident at the grain silos, the firefighters decided to check if their ladder would be long enough to reach the top of the silo if a fire broke out there. It wasn’t. So, if your company exports 140 foot long fire ladders to the US, you know who to call.

Fire Safety Training

Yes, It Is a Legal Requirement! Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, as the owner or occupier of non-domestic premises, you are the ‘responsible person’ who must arrange staff training, fire drills and evacuation procedures and policies for your staff and visitors.

Why Invest in Quality Fire Safety Training?

As a business owner, you have probably already invested heavily in fire safety equipment for your premises. Yet all that investment will effectively go to waste if your staff does not know how to use fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, as they may well be the first person to discover a fire.

What Your Staff Need to Know about Fire Safety

The occasional fire drill and some faded escape notices are no longer acceptable to fulfill your legal obligations under the Fire Safety Order. Your staff needs to be aware of:

  • your business fire safety policy, and who to contact when in the case of an emergency
  • your fire safety and evacuation procedures; when and how to act if they discover a fire
  • the fire safety equipment used on your premises, and how to operate them if required
  • the fire safety signs, what they mean, and how to act accordingly
  • The Best Fire Safety Training Delivery Method

Fire safety training could help save both lives and property, but only if it is delivered properly and in such a way that staff engage and learn the important information effectively.

Fire safety manuals can be dull and hard to read, and many people find it tricky to understand how to use fire safety equipment from a drawing or series of diagrams. In addition, you or your competent person can never be 100% sure the information has been fully read and absorbed!

Offsite or Onsite fire safety training gives your staff the opportunity to focus solely on fire training, but it can be costly both in terms of the fees charged by external companies and the time taken to deliver training to all staff.

Online courses in fire safety training are a useful aid for staff that like to learn in their own time and at their own pace, but again you as the business owner, cannot be sure the information has been fully absorbed and understood.

Fire Safety Training DVDs and CD-ROMS

One of the best ways to ensure training is delivered in a consistent way across your entire business is to use DVD or CD-rom training courses. By dividing your staff into small groups, your personnel can learn together in a structured way, without the need to remove large numbers of staff from the workplace at one time, as with outside raining.

They can learn from top experts featured on the DVDs, and actually see how to operate fire extinguishers and other safety equipment, rather than learn from diagrams. And, of course, if anyone needs a recap, you simply play the DVD segment again!

Unlike paper manuals that can become out of date and forgotten on a shelf, a DVD training course can be renewed on a subscription basis each year, to give your staff the most up to date training information available. It is also useful for refreshing your staff fire training on a regular basis, by revising individual modules rather than the whole course.

Fire safety training is the essential element that will keep your business and staff safe when combined with the right fire safety equipment; one without the other is as good as useless.