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Fire Safety in blocks of flats – Communications with Non-Residents – Part 4

Posted: 02/04/2015 10:56

This series of blogs has been looking at the role of the responsible person and the duties they might be expected to undertake to ensure there is adequate fire protection in blocks of flats. Last week, we looked at communications with residents and this week, we move on to look at communications with non-residents and how their fire safety might be accomplished.

I’m sure many people reading this blog might think ‘But how can you communicate effectively with non-residents?’ and where individual visitors to a flat within a block are concerned, they have a point. Communications for ad-hoc visitors are unlikely to be direct and will relate mainly to effective and clear signage, and also the input of the resident, who is appropriately informed.

There are categories of non-residents who can be reached directly, such as caretakers, housing officers and any other people who are either staff or who work as a contractor. The nature of the information which is delivered to them should be as simple and straightforward as the fire protection measures themselves. Blocks of flats usually have very simple fire safety measures and a very clear means of escape.

Fire Awareness Training for employees should consist of the following component parts:

1) Fire hazards that they may encounter in the workplace
2) How to prevent fires
3) Good Housekeeping
4) How to use fire extinguishers and other provided fire safety equipment
5) What do to if they discover a fire
6) How to escape the building in case of fire
7) Non-interference with fire protection measures, such as not wedging open fire doors
8) Raising awareness to report damage to fire protection measures

This safety training must be delivered as soon as they begin work, and this level of training applies equally to permanent, casual or contractor staff members. It is advisable to repeat this training at suitable intervals to refresh the memory of those who have previously undertaken the course and to ensure they are alert to the importance of fire safety at all times.

In the case of those people visiting the building in the course of their work, but who are not employed by the company owning the block of flats, it may be that they have undertaken similar training at their normal place of employment. However, it is wise to provide information on the block to any person who visits regularly as part of their job.

In the case of sheltered housing schemes, more extensive fire safety training should be provided to appropriate members of staff to ensure they are fully conversant with situations such as enabling evacuation and responding to alarms.

Fire drills are not generally something which can practically take place in a block of flats or for residents in sheltered housing schemes. Where they do take place, they can only relate to those people in the common areas and to members of staff.

Additionally, any staff member whose role includes any responsibility for fire safety, for monitoring fire safety during inspections or visits, or who have a part in the risk assessment process must complete advanced fire safety training and appropriate training in risk assessment to ensure they are well-advised and competent.

Next week’s blog will look at preparing for emergencies in blocks of flats. In the meantime, if you have any queries about a project or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.

The Complete Fire Safety Management Platform is the only fully comprehensive online fire risk assessment and fire risk management platform. Our aim, at CFSM, is to make the process of becoming fire safe, straightforward and, to use our expertise in fire risk assessment and fire safety management to guide you through each step, resulting in your premises meeting all legal, insurance and ethical fire safety considerations.

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