London Fire Brigade partnership
21 July 2017
London Fire Brigade is run by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and has over 150 years of experience in the fire and rescue sector, is the busiest in the UK and is one of the largest firefighting and rescue organisations in the world.
Through the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority’s (LFEPA’S) trading company, London Fire Brigade Enterprises Limited, businesses can benefit from this experience, expertise and knowledge.
Globex Europe Limited are pleased to announce the exciting new partnership with London Fire Brigade Enterprises for their range of GLOBEX Evacuation Solutions.
Darren Franks, Director of Globex Europe Limited said “after an extensive approval process it is a privilege to be working with the London Fire Brigade Enterprises and we look forward to working with them to raise awareness of the need to ensure suitable and sufficient procedures are in place to provide safe evacuation of all users of buildings in the event of an emergency”.
GLOBEX are also pleased to announce the appointment of Jason Maurice as their new UK Business Development Manager who has a wealth of sales and customer service experience and can be contacted direct on 07956 558064 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FIRE SAFETY & EVACUATION SOLUTIONS
SO WHO NEEDS AN EVACUATION CHAIR ?
Laws do not stipulate you must have evacuation chairs, however, there are requirements for responsible persons, as determined by legislation, to ensure suitable and sufficient procedures are in place to ensure the safe evacuation of all users of their premises in the event of an emergency without the dependence on the emergency services.
Whilst the Fire Service rescue people, they are not there to implement building emergency procedures. No-one should be left in a building in the event of an emergency and the culture of depending on the emergency services must change. Our simple reminder is, if you allow people in you must be able to get them out.
If this can not be achieved due to lack of resources, whether that be personnel or equipment, access should be restricted. Whilst this may not meet the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and may leave responsible persons open to claims of discrimination, fire and safety legislation, over rules these requirements.
Forward planning is essential to ensure compliance with today’s requirements. Gone are the days of members of staff carrying someone up or down stairs for a variety of reasons, primarily the risk of injury to both the person/s carrying and the person being carried, claims of personal injury and various health and safety/manual handling requirements.
In most workplaces, to assist with compliance are current fire safety legislation, primarily the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, clear documentation including a fire safety policy and management plan, fire risk assessment, emergency procedures, information for the fire service and a fire safety log book should be in place. Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) and General or Generic Emergency Evacuation Plans (GEEPs) are also required to assist with compliance and forward planning.
Ambulance chairs, transport chairs, transit chairs and carry chairs are names for lightweight foldable chairs that can be used to transport non-ambulant persons across a flat surface, some can also be carried up and down stairs but may require two or four people to do so. These types of chairs should not be confused with evacuation chairs.
Evacuation chairs can be used as wheelchairs across a flat surface and have the added benefit of enabling one person or two people to transport another person down stairs. Evacuation chairs usually have two skis with rubber belts that provide a smooth friction controlled descent when traveling down the stairs.
Whilst most evacuation chairs are designed for one person operation we always recommend two people are present, primarily to assistance the operator by opening doors on exit routes, providing additional control of the chair if required, especially on tight staircases and also to provide reassurance to the user of the chair.
Some evacuation chairs also have carry handles that enable two people to carry the chair upstairs from basements and over obstructions. The requirement for evacuation chairs is basically anywhere with a lift even if an evacuation lift is provided. Not only can the chairs be used in the event of an emergency and when lifts can not be used due to maintenance or a power failure, they can also be used for providing medical assistance.
As awareness for the need of evacuation chairs increases they will become more common around buildings like fire extinguishers. With fire extinguishers certain staff should have training in their correct use but there is no legal requirement for staff to use them, staff are not firefighters. However, with an evacuation chair it is not optional, trained personnel must be prepared to use the equipment and suitable and sufficient procedures must be in place to ensure the safe evacuation of all users of the building whenever it is occupied.
More businesses are considering online training which is great for raising awareness of various fire safety and health and safety requirements and can also provide huge cost efficiencies and minimise disruption in the workplace. However, we believe hands on, face to face training using an evacuation chair is essential for providing confidence to operators and reassurance to users.
Two training sessions for the correct use of evacuation chairs are generally available, operator training and trainer training. Operator training is just that, training for small groups of 4-6 people per session, for safety reasons around the staircase, to ensure they are confident and competent in the correct use of the chair, this session would normally last around 1 - 1.5 hours.
Trainer training is usually for large organisations who want to roll out the training to their own members of staff, again for 4-6 people and lasts for about 2 hours.
Where possible, evacuation drills should involve the potential user of the chair to ensure they are confident in the operation and know what to expect. Using an evacuation chair can be very different when a fire alarm is sounding as opposed to a training environment.
All training should be recorded in a suitable log book and ideally certificates of attendance provided by the approved trainer.
So, the fire alarm activates, everyone leaves the building by the nearest available exit and reports to the designated assembly point and designated members of the fire team investigate the cause of the alarm activation.
Depending a buildings fire strategy, emergency procedures and Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs), non-ambulant persons generally make their way to the predetermined refuge area, a place of relative safety, with a designated buddy/trained operator in the use of the evacuation chair who has knowledge of the PEEP. They should then communicate with the building fire safety management team via a refuge communication system or walkie talkie to confirm if there is a fire
or not. If it is confirmed that there is no fire or risk to the non-ambulant person there is no need to transport them down the stairs. They can simply wait in the refuge area with their buddy until the fire alarm is silenced and the all clear is given.
If there is a confirmed fire or there is no suitable communication system they should be evacuated immediately in the evacuation chair provided and go to the pre-determined assembly point. Evacuation chairs may not be the most comfortable chairs but it should be remembered that the devices are not a lounging chair but simply for use in the event of an emergency for a short period of time.
Hopefully this article highlights that just purchasing evacuation devices does not mean compliance and users are safe. Suitable and sufficient procedures must be in place, designated operators must receive training and refresher training, fire drills must be carried out, a maintenance regime must be in place and non-ambulant persons must not be permitted in building if they can not be evacuated safely.
When choosing an evacuation chair and supplier it is important to consider:
• Are you getting professional advice or just a salesman’s requirements?
• Is the chair easy to operate?
• Is the chair fit for purpose?
• Does the supplier provide certificated training?
• Does the supplier provide certificated maintenance?
• Does the chair come complete with a dust cover and wall mounting brackets?
• Is ongoing support and customer service available?
• Can the chair be used as a transportation chair on flat surface?
When choosing operators:
• Are they willing to use the chair, not just told they must do it?
• Are they physically capable?
• Do they understand the building emergency procedures?