Fire Safety Series – How often should fire safety training be undertaken?
This is another really good question and one that asked time and time again. In this article we answer this question & highlight the things you should be considering regarding to fire safety refresher training. You might be surprised at just how often staff training need to be renewed.
Basic fire safety training
Basic fire safety training should always form part of induction training undertaken on the very first day of employment. It should continue in the form of regular refresher training for all employees. Obviously it’s important to keep knowledge & skills up to date. Typically refresher training might be undertaken as part of a more wide ranging annual safety training programme.
There is also a duty of care to visitors, known as “relevant persons“. It’s not unreasonable for employers to ensure that all visitors are issued with basic fire induction training when signing in. At the very least, they should be advised of what the fire evacuation procedures entail & the location of muster points.
Some visitors will be less mobile or less able to self evacuate during their visit to the premises. In these instances, Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans should be discussed and agreed with the visitor. The use of evacuation chairs may be necessary to evacuate people safely from the building in the prescribed time frame. This is typically 2.5-3 minutes.
Fire marshal training – initial & refresher training
If done properly, your fire safety risk assessment will detail the number of fire marshals required for the premises. It will also prescribe their level and frequency of training. Ultimately, how often the training is undertaken depends upon the level of risk at the premises, staff turnover & any changes to the business, including physical changes to the building.
The London Fire & Rescue Service recommend that employers provide refresher fire safety training sessions at least once a year. This ensures that staff remain familiar with fire safety arrangements & the actions to be taken during a fire.
All fire marshal training certificates expire after three years. Refresher training should be undertaken annually or more frequently where there are higher workplace risks. Training should certainly be repeated more frequently when:
- You have a high turnover of staff.
- Your employees are responsible for the safety of hotel guests, vulnerable residents or patients.
- There is a high risk of fire due to the nature of the workplace or surrounding hazards.
The London Fire & Rescue Service recommend that any members of staff who have particular responsibilities in respect of fire safety (i.e. supervisory or specialist roles such as those listed below) should receive detailed instruction in their own duties & refresher training every 6 months. These will include;
- Department heads
- Fire marshals or fire wardens
- Firefighting teams in large workplaces
- Floor supervisors
- Central control room staff
- Security staff (including night security patrols)
- Kitchen staff
- Engineering and maintenance staff
- Caring staff
- Hotel staff
There are many factors that can influence how often training is undertaken; cash flow is one, staff being away from work is another. Ultimately, if there is a fire at your workplace and you don’t have sufficient numbers of trained fire marshals, or have fire marshals who have refreshed their training within their certificate lifespans, you’re on a sticky wicket when negotiating with your insurance company or your conscience. Ensuring that you’ve covered all bases in making your workplace as safe as reasonable is the fundamental part of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act. So as well as being in breach of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2006, you’d also be in breach of the H&S at Work Act; both of which are criminal legislation rather than civil legislation.
Is it worth not spending a few pounds to ensure the safety of your premises? With fire marshal training starting at just £59.99 per person & £499 per group of 12 candidates, you’d be foolhardy not to invest in your businesses safety.
I genuinely hope that this guide is useful for you and that you feel equipped to determine how often your colleagues need to have their fire safety training refreshed. If, however, you feel that you’d like professional assistance in undertaking your fire risk assessment, please get in touch with us as we can recommend professional assessors to you.