FD 08 - In-house fire training

A fire defence policy can only be effective if all the employees of a company are fully
involved in its execution. This pre-supposes that all employees have some knowledge of
fire safety procedures. This is seldom the case, however, and in-house fire training
therefore becomes increasingly important.
Management’s role
The first prerequisite is that fire safety training must have the full support of top
management, since training sessions will require staff members to be released from their
normal duties from time to time and funds will need to be made available if effective
training is to be conducted, e.g.: fire extinguishers will have to be recharged after training
The objective
The goal of the training programme is to develop in the individual employee a sense of
personal responsibility for plant fire safety. Elaborate rules and expensive fire protection
equipment cannot compensate for the carelessness and negligence of employees, but
training can reduce this risk.
Who needs training?
All employees must know what their specific responsibilities are and what to do in the
event of discovering a fire or hearing the alarm.
Operators of equipment or processes having unusual fire or explosion risks need
special training, e.g.: employees handling flammable liquids, combustible dusts,
gases or dangerous chemicals should clearly understand the dangers. Operators of
boilers and furnaces should be thoroughly instructed in safe lighting procedures,
proper operation of controls and the importance of safety devices.
Security personnel who are on duty after hours or on patrol. Will need to be fully
trained in emergency action, the identification of fire hazards and in the use of fire
equipment. Their training will be more intensive than that required for the majority of
staff members.
Department fire teams consisting of two employees per department, need intensive
practical fire extinguishment training to be able to mount an effective and rapid attack
on a fire during its incipient stages.
Works fire teams will receive the most thorough training in fire-fighting and fire
Make it interesting
Fire training must be continuous but can become a repetitive routine instead of being
interesting and enlightening.
Classroom instruction sessions
Table-top demonstrations illustrating the chemistry and extinguishment of fire and the
inspection and recharging of fire extinguishers are most useful. Talks by fire protection
engineers and representatives of the public fire department will create interest. Fixed
detection and extinguishing equipment can be explained and a discussion of recent fires
that have occurred at the company or in similar occupancies, will be useful. A video is a
valuable aid to any training session, provided it is relevant and is correctly introduced.
Discussion periods regarding fire pre-planning and occasional quiz sessions will promote
participation by everyone in the class and the lecturer will be able to monitor how effective
previous training has been.
Table-top demonstrations help to get the message across
On-the-spot demonstrations and talks
These provide the opportunity for teaching individuals fire safety at their place of work.
Methods of raising the alarm, selecting the correct extinguisher for specific fires and
demonstrations of safe working procedures can be carried out quickly and effectively.
Contests and awards appeal directly to all employees. An inter-department fire drill
competition or quiz will generate interest in fire safety. The preparation leading up to the
competition will be invaluable to any training, since during this period participating staff
members will be receptive to new or even complex information on fire safety matters.
The practice of making awards to departments for good housekeeping or for showing the
greatest improvement, is an excellent way of stimulating competitiveness and ultimately of
achieving maximum participation in fire safety programmes.
Competitions and rewards promote interest among all employees
Publicising fire safety
Fire safety should be publicised as widely as possible within the company. Editors of
company newsletters and journals will welcome receiving informative articles on fire safety
matters. Through these media it could be shown how careless acts can cause fires and
publicity could be given to forthcoming good housekeeping or other fire safety
competitions. In addition, informative articles on fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems,
for example, could be printed to make all employees aware of their functions.
Emergency manual
It is essential to have a top management-backed fire safety policy in writing. Without a
plan, things are done once and forgotten or not done at all. A properly thought out plan will
outline procedures and responsibilities and make fire safety part of a daily routine for all
The policy and plan should be part of a fire safety manual which should contain an outline
of the organisation, the Assigned duties of employees, a plan of the property showing the
layout of the fire protection systems and details procedures to be followed in the event of
an emergency. The manual should also contain details of the fire safety training schedule
and fire training should be extended to ensure that all employees are fully conversant with
the contents of the manual.
Public fire brigade
The public fire brigade should be invited to meet company fire teams and during their visit
of the plant, the professional firemen would familiarise themselves with the layout of the
buildings. Joint practical training exercises could also be held with the company’s fire team.
Specialised equipment and general fire safety displays are useful training aids. They can,
be built around the many devices used for protecting modern industrial plants or around
obsolete equipment to dramatise fire protection history. Posters, enlarged photographs,
and even life-sized figures could be used in displays and fire safety slogans can be
permanently featured, to attract attention and emphasise the theme.
A display of this kind could be moved from one department to another to ensure maximum
exposure and would be an extension of formal training sessions.
Published by
Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa
(Incorporated Association not for Gain)
(Reg. No. 73/00022/08)
P O Box 15467
Impala Park