Fire Safety Awareness Training Resource

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Most fires are preventable and can be avoided by following the correct actions and procedures. This training resource covers general advice on fire safety procedures and provides guidance on substances that cause fire and explosion.


Employee responsibility

Employees must take reasonable care for the health & safety of themselves and of other people who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work, to co-operate with the employer on Health & Safety issues and to participate in training provided.

Employer responsibility

Employers must carry out a documented fire safety risk assessment, keep the risk assessment up to date and must provide appropriate training.

Nature of fire

Fires require three key elements to start – a source of ignition (heat) / a source of fuel / and oxygen. Fire occurs whenever combustible fuel in the presence of oxygen at an extremely high temperature becomes gas. Flames are the visual indicator of the heated gas.

Sources of ignition include:Sources of fuel include:Sources of oxygen include:
– Heaters– Wood– The air around us
– Lighting– Paper– Wind
– Naked flames– Cardboard– Draughts
– Electrical equipment– Plastic
– Cigarettes– Rubber or foam
– Matches– Loose packaging materials
– Anything that can get very hot– Waste rubbish
– Anything that can cause sparks– Furniture

Fire hazards and risks

Work which involves the storage, use or creation of materials, chemicals, vapours and dusts etc. that can readily burn or explode is hazardous and poses a risk within the workplace. Each year people are injured at work and property damage is caused by flammable substances or materials catching fire or exploding.

What are the hazards?

Many substances, materials and actions in the workplace can be the root cause of fires or explosions, these include:

  • Flammable liquids, aerosols & gases
  • Electrical mains and appliances
  • Welding and brazing equipment
  • Smoking and smoking materials
  • Combustible materials
  • Poor housekeeping and storage
  • Portable heaters
  • Furniture
  • Paper and cardboard materials
  • Dusts
  • Arson
  • Negligence

The image below shows some examples of hazards than can be found in any workplace.

What are the risks?

The possible risks from identified workplace hazards include:

  • Materials or substances becoming sources of fuel.
  • Materials or substances becoming sources of ignition.
  • Uncontrolled hazards resulting in fire starting.
  • Fire resulting in danger to life.
  • Fire resulting in danger of injury.
  • Fire resulting in damage to property.

Assessing risks

To help prevent accidental fires or explosions and reduce the possibility of injury or harm, a fire safety risk assessment should be completed and the following should be considered:

  • Sources of ignition.
  • Sources of fuel.
  • Means of escape.
  • Fire protection measures.
  • Emergency lighting, signs & notices and means of giving warning.
  • Firefighting equipment.

Key questions to remember when completing a risk assessment include:

  • Do substances & materials used or created in the workplace pose a risk?
  • Do practices or actions in the workplace pose a risk?
  • Does equipment used in the workplace pose a risk?
  • Are supplier safety data sheets available about possible flammable substances?
  • Can the number of flammable/explosive substances stored on site be reduced?
  • Can sources of ignition and substances that burn be kept apart?
  • Are flammable/explosive substances disposed of safely?
  • Is the fire risk assessment reviewed regularly?
  • Are good housekeeping practices in place?
  • Are waste materials disposed of safely and properly?
  • Are storage solutions safe and manageable?

Once the risks have been identified, control measures should be put in place to remove or reduce the risk of people being harmed. This will include measures to prevent incidents happening in the first place as well as precautions that will protect people from harm if there is a fire or explosion.

Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act stipulates the presence of dangerous substances that can result in fires or explosions also needs to be considered as part of the fire safety risk assessment.

The Fire and Rescue Authorities deal with general fire safety matters in workplaces apart from construction sites including shipbuilding where these are dealt with by HSE or its agents. Enforcement responsibility for fire safety where dangerous substances are kept and used generally lies with HSE (or local authorities if they inspect the premises).

Control measures

Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire. Recommended fire safety measures include:

  • Carrying out a fire safety risk assessment.
  • Keeping sources of ignition and flammable substances apart.
  • Ensuring electrical installations are checked regularly.
  • Ensuring portable electric equipment is checked regularly.
  • Storing flammable liquids safely and securely.
  • Ensuring welding equipment is used only by authorised people.
  • Ensuring good housekeeping practices are maintained.
  • Considering fire detection and alarm equipment.
  • Having suitable firefighting equipment available.
  • Having suitable firefighting equipment available.
  • Completing regular fire safety checks.
  • Keeping fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed.
  • Ensuring staff undertake appropriate training.
  • Ensuring storage is adequate and kept tidy.
  • Reviewing and updating the fire risk assessment regularly.

Principles of extinguishing fire

The three basic ingredients necessary for fire have been identified as oxygen, heat & fuel. To extinguish a fire, it is largely a matter of depriving it of one or more of these elements.

There are three methods of extinguishing fire, they are classified in terms of removing these elements and are known as Cooling, Smothering or Starving.

Cooling – Limiting temperature by increasing the rate at which heat is lost from the burning material
Smothering – Limiting oxygen by preventing air from reaching the base of the fire
Starving – Limiting fuel by removing potential fuel from the vicinity of the fire

Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are designed to tackle specific types of fire. There are six different classes of fire and several different types of fire extinguishers.

Class A fires are burning flammable solids, examples of these include paper and wood
Class B fires are burning flammable liquids, examples include petrol and paint
Class C fires are burning flammable gases, a couple of examples are propane and butane
Class D fires are burning flammable metals, these may include lithium or magnesium
Electrical fires involve electrical goods, equipment and appliances
Class F fires are burning cooking oils or fat

Fire extinguishers have colour codes to help with quick identification, and they will also often show clear diagrams and labelling to try and ensure you use the correct extinguisher on the correct class of fire.

Water fire extinguishers – are one of the most cost-effective ways to fight Class A fires, those fuelled by solid materials such as paper, wood and textiles.

Water extinguishers have a red label.

Foam fire extinguishers – can be used on Class A and B fires and are most suited to extinguishing liquid fires such as petrol or diesel.

Foam extinguishers have a cream label.

Powder fire extinguishers – are a good multi-purpose fire extinguisher because they can be used on Class A, B and C fires. They can also be used on electrical fires but do not cool the fire so it can re-ignite.

Powder extinguishers have a blue label.

Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers (CO2) – are ideal for places with a lot of electrical equipment such as offices or server rooms because they are safe to use on fires involving electrical apparatus.

Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers (CO2) have a black label.

Wet chemical fire extinguishers – are suitable for use on Class F fires involving cooking oils and fats. They can also be used on Class A fires (wood, paper and fabrics) and Class B fires (flammable liquids).

Wet chemical extinguishers have a yellow label.

Fire blankets – are primarily for use on hot oil fires such as frying pans or small deep fat fryers. They can also be used on someone whose clothing has caught fire. They work by smothering the fire, stopping access to the oxygen fuelling it and extinguishing it.

BestPump currently has the following types of fire extinguishers in place and they are checked on a regular basis.

– Co2– Foam– Dry Powder– Co2– Fire blanket

Before using a fire extinguisher, the following recommendations should be followed:

  • You should only attempt to fight a small fire that can be safely extinguished.
  • Always use the correct fire extinguisher or fire blanket for the type of fire.
  • Call the local fire brigade as soon as possible.
  • Alert others about the fire.
  • Check if people have started to evacuate the area.
  • Make sure that the fire is not emitting a toxic smoke or spreading.
  • Ensure the fire doesn’t block your exit point.
  • If the fire gets any bigger leave immediately and close all doors.

Safety checks

Carrying out regular fire safety checks provides the opportunity to identify any damaged equipment or any weak spots in the process that should be improved. These checks vary in frequency and the table below shows the current timescales for BestPump. 

Weekly testsSix monthly testsAnnual tests5 yearly testsRecords
– Smoke alarms– Evacuation– Fire extinguisher service– EICR – Electrical Installation service– Ensure records are up to date
– Fire exits– Portable appliance testing (PAT)
– Fire extinguishers– Fire risk assessment review
– Carbon monoxide alarm

Means of escape

In the event of a fire, it is important to evacuate people as quickly as possible from the premises. Escape routes in a building should allow people to escape quickly enough to ensure they are not placed in any danger from fire. The time available will depend on several factors, including how quickly the fire is detected and the alarm raised, the number of escape routes available, the nature of the occupants and the speed of fire growth. If you discover a fire:

  • Set off the alarm by calling “Fire, Fire, Fire” if no break glass points available.
  • Ensure the fire brigade have been called immediately.
  • Only attempt to fight a small fire that can be safely extinguished.
  • Evacuate the building using the nearest available exit – DO NOT USE LIFTS.
  • Close all doors behind you.
  • Proceed to the designated assembly point.
  • Do not take risks.
  • Do not re-enter the building until told it is safe to do so by the Fire Warden.

The image below includes the BestPump Fire Action Plan and confirms the assembly point – Front of Unit J (Across the road)

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