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Do your employees know what to do if they find a fire?

At first thought, the story below may be comical, but when the laughter dies, we hope it highlights the seriousness of ensuring your fire safety procedures are well communicated and understood by all employees.

It should also underline how crucial it is to have a formal induction process for all new staff to ensure this knowledge is consistent throughout your business at all times.

What would you do if your laptop suddenly caught fire?

One of the Tecserv UK team was visiting a supplier (not fire and security related) and during this meeting it came to light that this business had been inspected by a fire risk assessor working on behalf of the facilities management company who were in charge of running the business park.

During the fire risk assessment, as is normal practice, the risk assessor can speak to employees and ask them questions about the company’s fire and safety procedures.

This questioning is done purposely to understand how well employees know and understand key fire safety information.

These questions might be related to areas such as:

  • Whether the employee knows the date and times that the fire alarm sounders will be tested (so they recognise a practice drill from a real scenario)
  • How often the company practices its fire drill
  • If the employee knows the name of the Responsible Individual(s)
  • If employees are taught the fire evacuation procedure
  • What action the employee would take if they find a fire
  • Whether the employee understands the uses for the different types of fire extinguisher
  • Whether the employee know where their nearest fire exits are
  • Why fire exits should not be blocked and fire doors closed
  • Whether the employee knows where the fire alarm sounder call boxes and fire extinguishers are located
  • The location of the fire assembly point

During this particular inspection, the employee being questioned was asked:

“What would you do if your laptop suddenly caught on fire?”

The inspector stood back and watched as they saw the cogs ticking around in the employees brain, and was eventually given the following answer……

“I’d pick it up, chuck it out the window and run!”

After the uproar of laughter had died around the office, not least of which because:

  1. The windows can’t be opened
  2. They would have burned their hands….

The seriousness of what had just happened began to sink in………..for the employees, the responsible individual and the business owner who all realised that if a fire had occurred, chaos would probably have ensued as everyone panicked and ran from the building.

What should employees do if they do discover a fire?

In a nutshell, if anyone discovers a fire, the first action is to activate a ‘call point.’ These are the ‘break glass in an emergency’ red boxes that will probably be wall mounted.

The very next action is to alert those around them and exit the building by the safest and quickest emergency exit route.

All staff should gather at the fire assembly meeting point until the Responsible Individual can take the register (manual or electronically) to ensure that everyone has exited the building safely.

During this time the emergency services will have been alerted, either by an automated response as a result of the fire alarm being activated or the Responsible Individual(s) will have dialled 999, and the fire service will hopefully be en-route to tackle the fire.

Suffice to say, this company is in the process of checking all its fire safety policies and procedures, and has embarked on a rigorous programme of staff training and awareness!

If you have not conducted a fire risk assessment recently or you would like to ensure you staff know what to do in the event of fire please get in touch.

Mick Brooke

Mick has over 30 years experience working within the Fire and Security industry. Starting as an installation engineer and quickly progressing into both operational and sales management roles.

Posted on: 10 December 2019
Last updated: 5 March 2024
Posted in: Advice, Fire Systems, Offices
Author: Mick Brooke