Over the past few years the number of businesses in Europe, Australia and America investing in employee fire warden training has more than doubled. Around 40% of all businesses never totally recover from the damage done by a fire. So, employees can save lives and property and this is keeping in mind the fact that employees are the first people on the scene when a fire breaks out because of that they are in the best position to save lives and even hold off the fire until emergency services arrive. But what type of fire warden training should the average employee receive? This is a question that many businesses wrestle with keeping in mind the fact that businesses don’t want to divert too many resources to training.
Basic fire safety
The most basic fire safety courses will teach people about the three elements that are required to start a fire i.e. oxygen, ignition which can be anything from cooking equipment to bad wiring, and an accelerant. Under the right conditions almost any type of material can easily catch fire. So, the most basic fire safety that should be taught is workplace related safety. This is specific to each type of workplace, for instance, employees at a shoe manufacturing factory may learn what precautions to take in order to avoid things like their processing chemicals catching fire. Office safety will include how to spot faulty wiring, what to do in the event something catches wire, how to use a fire extinguisher etc. Then there are also the medical aspects of fire warden training that should be taught.
Providing first aid to fire victims
Back in 2004 a fire at the home for the elderly in Scotland killed 14 residents. The inquiry revealed that the majority of staff members at the home didn’t have or had not received fire safety training, so they didn’t know what to do if there was a fire. The problems with the home’s electrical wiring also went unspotted despite it being easily visible. This lead to a fire which could have been prevented.
The above news story vividly highlights that despite the fire first aid training and fire warden training would have saved lives. Fire related first aid training is not very different from BLS or Basic Life Support training which includes CPR, chest compressions and artificial resuscitation. As an employer you do not have to necessarily opt for a program that just teaches fire safety and related first aid. Your employees can be trained in first aid and also receive basic fire warden training.
Outlining basic safety procedures
In addition to relevant fire safety training and regular refresher courses it is also up to the management to clearly outline the business’s own safety procedures. Regular safety drills will help to keep employees aware of what evacuation procedures need to be performed in the event of a fire and how to alert emergency services if they suspect a fire. Employees should also be trained in not just detection but also prevention which is very workplace specific.
Make sure that the training program you enroll your staff in covers what types of fire extinguishers should be used on what types of fires. They should also know where all the fire extinguishers are like the back of their hand.
Designated fire wardens
There should be at least two members of your staff who are designated as fire wardens. Ideally, you should have two wardens for every 50 employees. These wardens should receive extensive training that deals with fending off fires. This will help reduce the financial and business damage done in the event of a fire. These wardens will also be responsible for regularly checking and maintaining fire extinguishers, fire doors and alarms. Fire wardens should also receive refresher training every six months and should be responsible for conducting fire drills every two months.
What does fire warden training program cost?
The average cost depends on where you live and the duration of the program. In most countries the training will cost anywhere from $3000 to $5000 and last for up to three days. Refreshers cost an average of $1500 and are usually just a one day affair that cover everything that wardens should know.
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Manu has been a fire safety inspector for a decade. Over the years he has trained companies and employees in everything from earthquake safety, to first aid and fire safety. He currently trains employees of large and small businesses in fire safety and first aid with his office based in Sydney.