Fire safety training in the UK is very rigorous. It comes from a history of fire regulations, both successful and unsuccessful. This blog will talk you through the history of fire safety training, the current requirements we have, and its importance.
History of Fire Safety Training
The regulations we have today are all reactions to fires or incidents that have happened. And fire safety training is a product of the regulations. The very first fire prevention act was a reaction to the Great Fire of London. This actually was before the United Kingdom existed. At this point, there was the Kingdom of England. Kingdom of Scotland and Kingdom of Great Britain. From then to today, various acts have been passed to make fire safety more of a priority in the UK.
The following are notable fire safety legislations:
Great Fire of London 1666 – The buildings in London were mostly made out of wood. So King Charles II passed an act stating that all buildings must be made of stone. And all roads must be widened from then on.
London Cooking Fire Bylaw 1705 – An act prohibiting open fires in attics of thatched buildings.
The Fires Prevention (Metropolis) Act 1774 – This act regulated buildings, making sure their exteriors were as fireproof as possible.
Factories Act 1937 – There was an original Factory Act in 1901. This act was an extension of that, making requirements for a way to escape from factories stronger.
Fire Services Act 1947 – This act transferred fire safety responsibilities from the National Fire Service to the local authorities.
Factories Act 1961 – In 1956, a fire in Eastwood Mills, Yorkshire, killed eight people. Because of this, the Factories Act was amended further. It now gave fire brigades the power to inspect factories for fire safety. Fire certificates were also introduced, which included provisions for fire safety.
Licensing Act 1961 – In 1961, a fire broke out in a club in Bolton, killing 19 people. Due to this, the alcohol licensing laws were amended.
Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 – In 1960, a fire occurred in a department store in Liverpool. It resulted in ten people being trapped on the fourth floor. The purpose of the act was to ensure the safety of workers in offices, shops and railways.
Fire Precautions Act 1971 – Previous to this, the acts passed did not apply to buildings built before their passing. This act required all new and existing buildings to be inspected and provided with a fire certificate before occupation. It came after a fire in a Hotel that caused 11 people to die.
The last act that has been passed is the Regulatory Reform Order of 2005. It applied to all buildings and introduced the requirement of a fire risk assessment. It also made providing fire safety training to employees a legal requirement. This is the act that we are currently following today.
Fire Safety Training Requirements
The requirements set out by the Regulatory Reform Order are to ensure workplaces are fully prepared in the event of a fire. It states every workplace must have a ‘responsible person’ that is in control of fire safety. They also will be the ones to answer to the law in any case of failure.
There is a section dedicated to fire safety training in the UK that states the following:
The responsible person must ensure employees receive training –
- When first employed
- When being exposed to new or increased risks because of –
i) change of responsibilities
ii) change of work equipment
iii) new technology
iv) change of a system of work
The training provided must –
- Include sufficient instruction on appropriate cautions
- Be repeated periodically
- Be adapted to any changed risks
- Be appropriate to risks identified in the risk assessment
- Take place during work hours
So these are the legal requirements of fire safety training in the UK. However, there is much more than just these requirements that should be provided to ensure proper fire safety. Aspects such as understanding fire extinguishers and having an emergency plan are important.
Importance of Fire Safety Training
Besides being a legal requirement, fire safety training is essential for personal safety. In the year ending in June 2022, there were 275 fire-related fatalities. This is an increase from the previous years. Fires can cause not only death but permanent health ailments. During a fire, flames and smoke spread in a very fast manner. Both of these can cause irreversible damage.
Fire safety training also saves businesses. There is an average loss of £657,074 per fire incident. Damage to property, equipment and documents could put a whole business to a halt. So ensuring everyone has proper fire safety training is in the best interest of any business owner. It is not only to train in what to do in the event of a fire but how to prevent one.