Fire Safety Manager

In order to prevent loss of life and protect property in an emergency and to draw attention to potential fire safety problems in the workplace the fire safety manager should appoint a number of fire wardens (sometimes known as floor wardens) who, in turn, should each have deputies. In large companies the fire safety manager may also be responsible for the occupational fire brigade.

The fire safety manager should:
* appoint fire wardens and deputies by name,
* designate an area of the premises for which each fire warden will be responsible,
* specify the fire warden’s duties in writing,
* establish procedures to enable the fire warden’s reports to be actioned,
* train the wardens and their deputies in their duties,
* maintain continuity when staff who are fire wardens are on holiday, leave the company or are moved to other areas,
* control the issuing of hot-work permits (see chapter 6),
* liaise with the local authority fire brigade.

The fire risk assessments required under RRO will, in most companies, be an additional task for the fire safety manager. As stated elsewhere in this book, this is not a ‘one-off’ project but one that requires revisiting regularly.

When the initial risk assessment has identified the hazards and the means to combat them a decision should be taken about what additional fire precautions may be necessary. The fire safety manager should draw up a plan to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the life safety of everyone on the premises from all foreseeable causes of fire and the protection of the company’s assets and records to ensure the continuing viability of the business.

A written fire precautions policy should be prepared and implemented with regard to:
* establishing a fire safety management structure, including designating those people responsible for each part of the plan,
* action to eliminate or reduce hazards wherever possible,
* monitoring unavoidable hazards,
* preventing the spread of smoke and flames,
* ensuring the safety of all staff and visitors,
* enforcing the fire precautions,
* training staff in the actions they should take in the event of fire and how to recognise, remedy and report fire hazards,
* precautions against the disruption of business,
* other measures to reduce possible losses which, in turn , might attract savings in insurance premiums.

The measures will have a bearing on the emergency plan which deals with the action to be taken if a fire occurs. When the policy has been prepared it may be appropriate to check the risk assessment in the light of any additional fire precautions that have been taken.

Liaison with the fire brigade
The fire safety manager also has an important role to play in liaising with the fire brigade. If there is an occupational fire brigade there are many benefits in carrying out joint exercises with the local authority brigade. If there is no occupational brigade, inviting the crews from the local fire station to familiarise themselves with the layout of your premises can be very beneficial if a fire were to occur. In large buildings, plans should be made available to the fire brigade on their arrival. It is common practice to provide these in a box adjacent to the fire alarm panel.
In the case of large sites, the fire brigade should be informed of any roadworks that are being undertaken on site that may obstruct firefighting operations and any work that may affect availability of water supplies.

Liaison with others
The fire safety manager should also liaise with the company security manager. This is especially important with regard to fire exits as there is a possible conflict of interests in that security considerations will demand as few final exits as possible whereas the fire safety requirements often seek more than this number.

Escape routes may need to be established for use, in an emergency, through areas that otherwise have to be kept secure. Where this involves hardware such as electric locks that are linked to the fire alarm so as to release doors when a fire alarm call point is activated, or on failure of the mains power supply, procedures for testing the equipment will have to be agreed with the security manager.

There will also need to be close co-operation with the security manager with regard to postal devices and bomb threats where the fire warden may have important roles to play in evacuating all or part of the building and undertaking searches (see chapter 8).

Where fire escape routes pass through neighbouring property or across the land of the adjacent premises, close liaison should be maintained with the fire safety manager of the company next door in order to ensure that the escape routes are maintained clear of obstructions and to become familiar with the means by which the exits are fastened. Contact with the neighbouring premises should also be made when fire drills are planned so that staff may use these routes.
Again this liaison may involve your security manager and/or the security manager of the neighbouring premises.

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