Hotel managers reminded of the importance of fire safety training
Fire Protection, Fire Extinguishers, Fire Protection Consultants
By John Lynch, GM Business Support Services, Wormald
Fire & Safety
Fire is a risk for every hospitality facility and hotel and can pose a serious threat to guests, property and a business’ reputation. Busy kitchens, careless guests and equipment malfunction can all contribute to the risk of fire and with high occupancy loads, minor mishaps can quickly become serious threats.
Although it is not always possible to prevent a fire, hotels and hospitality facilities must be adequately prepared by having the correct fire protection systems and equipment in place. Furthermore, owners and managers must recognise the importance of investing in staff fire safety training.
Training helps to ensure that effective plans and procedures are formulated and ready to be executed if there is a fire. Management should make their employees aware of evacuation procedures, the latest regulations and how to use fire protection equipment so as to confidently manage an emergency situation.
To be prepared, an effective fire prevention plan should be developed in accordance with the Australian Standard, AS 3745 - 2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities. Emergency related training is a vital element of this fire prevention plan. The Standard outlines the minimum requirements for the development of the emergency plan and also provides guidance for the planning and implementation of an effective Emergency Planning Committee, Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) and emergency response procedures. Recent amendments to AS 3745 require that training be conducted for at least one member of the Emergency Planning Committee, for the ECO and for the facility occupants. Furthermore, ECO members must attend skills retention training every six months.
The importance of fire safety training
Hotels invest significantly in fire safety solutions in the form of fire protection systems and equipment to help minimise the impact of fire to people and property. Thorough assessments must be carried out to identify if the installed fire protection equipment and systems are fit for the purpose intended. This can include fire extinguishers, fire hose reels, fire hydrants, fire detection systems, gaseous suppression systems and fire sprinkler systems. In addition to having a comprehensive and effective fire management system in place, it is equally important to have an effective response and evacuation procedure and a trained emergency response team.
When a fire breaks out, the highest priority is to get the guests and personnel out of harm’s way and trained staff will provide the best chance for this to happen in a methodical and efficient manner. Fire safety training is a vital step towards helping to protect the occupants of hotel or facility and it provides staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to make the right decisions and act quickly in the event of a workplace fire.
The impact of a crisis can be substantially reduced when people are trained to respond appropriately. Employers must ensure that each employee is familiar with the emergency procedures in the workplace.
What training is available?
Every piece of fire safety equipment is very specific and training should be provided to those responsible for using them. Furthermore, those working in close proximity to fire safety equipment should have a basic understanding on its exact operation.
Training is an essential line of defence against fire and can also provide employees with an awareness of how different types of fires can start and give them the confidence required to respond effectively. To outline some of the courses available:
Warden training: A facility’s fire warden has a considerable amount of responsibility for everyone’s wellbeing in the event of a fire. Warden training equips wardens with the skills and knowledge to carry out their duties in an emergency situation. Courses typically cover 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. Wardens working in premises where emergency warning and communication systems are installed are also recommended to undertake training on how to use these systems so as to understand their duties and responsibilities and how to accurately keep records.
Emergency awareness training: While not everyone within a facility has the same responsibilities as the warden and the ECO team, all staff should have a basic understanding of how to react safely in an emergency situation. Should a fire occur, anyone could be required to help others safely out of the building. On this type of course, trainees typically learn about the emergency procedures set up in their workplace such as the structure of the Emergency Control Organisation, alarm activation in the building, responding to emergencies and the location of assembly areas.
Evacuation training: Workplace evacuation exercises are designed to train staff to effectively evacuate in the event of an emergency. This type of training is often conducted using the most likely emergency scenarios to occur in each individual workplace and the evacuation exercise would include a risk assessment of the premises. Evacuation training can also help staff prepare to deal with the fear and panic of occupants associated with a fire and how to quickly evacuate the building. These evacuation procedures may be useful during emergency situations when visibility might be greatly reduced.
Fire extinguisher training: Fire extinguishers are an essential element of fire safety in the workplace. 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.
Having all the safety equipment and necessary accessories in place for a fire occurrence is important but it is also vital to have a staff that knows how to use these safety devices during emergency situations. A confident team that is able to respond appropriately in the event of a fire is an invaluable investment for a business.
For further information about Wormald’s products and services, call 133 166 or visit www.wormald.com.au
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