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Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times?

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DGR
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Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times?

Post by DGR » Wed May 10, 2017 10:41 am

Ok, this is going to sound either incredibly stupid, or a troll....I promise it is neither.


The building I work in has very little in the way of meeting room space or private areas, so staff in my company have been known to use the fire escape to have either brief chats between managers and their staff or take/make phone calls...as they are sound proof they provide a lot of privacy.


Now, my question is; does that violate Health & Safety law in the UK? One of the staff for the building claims it does as "Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times", however my understanding of this reg is that it means of flammable materials or physical obstructions that would make exit difficult and did not extend to people...as clearly if the alarm sounded they would move right away.


Can someone please clear this up for me?

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witsd
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Re: Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times?

Post by witsd » Wed May 10, 2017 11:12 am

There is no specific law that is going to provide you with a simple answer here – it really should be picked up by your fire risk assessment, which would then determine if it was an issue and propose solutions it that were the case.

If it was me carrying out the FRA, I wouldn't have an issue with it providing no additional items liable to cause obstructions or fire risk were being brought into the area*, no fire doors were being propped open during the 'meeting' and that everyone present would hear the alarm and evacuate immediately.

*Conduct a quick check following a stairwell meeting for anything left behind, bearing in mind that the area should be as free from fuel, ignition sources and trip / slip hazards as possible.
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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Re: Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times?

Post by DGR » Wed May 10, 2017 11:22 am

Thank you for clearing that up.


Literally the "meetings" are two or three people max, there are never any items taken with them, so nothing it left behind, doors are always closed, and the alarm sounds in the escapes as well as on the main floor so exit would always be possible.

Thanks again

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witsd
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Re: Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times?

Post by witsd » Wed May 10, 2017 11:33 am

Yeah, in that case I wouldn't really care, though as I say, it should still be picked up in the FRA with mitigating reasons recorded just in case something goes wrong one day.
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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Re: Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times?

Post by bernicarey » Wed May 10, 2017 1:07 pm

"Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times"
This cannot be taken to the extremes of 'literal-ity', if there are people stood there having a meeting, then clearly they are mobile.
One of the staff for the building claims..
Does this member of staff suffer with any form of Autism (potentially undiagnosed), where they take a literal mean in other aspects of their work?
Serious question, it might be the case.
There are an increasing number of sufferes being diagnosed in their 30's and later.
http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asperger.aspx

It's like when you seen the often used sign, especially at places like schools, where the gates proudly display a sign 'GATES TO BE LOCKED SHUT AT ALL TIMES'.
Really? Well in that case, take them out and build a wall then, because a gate is meant to be opened to allow access and egress. Dohh!
www.belvoirsafety.co.uk

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witsd
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Re: Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times?

Post by witsd » Wed May 10, 2017 1:12 pm

bernicarey wrote:
Wed May 10, 2017 1:07 pm
This cannot be taken to the extremes of 'literal-ity', if there are people stood there having a meeting, then clearly they are mobile.
I think the only time I've ever picked up on something similar as an issue was a staff member who had opened a fire exit to pop out for a cigarette and was loitering at the threshold to prevent the door locking behind her. The reason this was an issue? She'd brought a chair.
We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one.' We forget that we still have to make a study of 'and.'

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Re: Fire Escapes must be kept clear at all times?

Post by Messy » Wed May 10, 2017 5:11 pm

In a very large building I look after, there are 26 wide staircase landings and a severe lack of meering space.

The business wanted to create meeting spaces in these areas using largely non combustible chairs with cushions. The building is maxed out occupancy wise so all staircases are required at all times.

As a result, a zero tolerance to combustibles was applied and steel chairs and tables installed. Areas away from the circulation spaces were designated as meeting areas.

Out went the proposed cushions, space dividers, plants and bins. The areas look a bit stark and the chairs a bit cold on bare legs at first, so not universally popular with female staff.

But there are now 'drop down' meeting spaces for an additional 200+ staff - all of them in escape routes. That is most welcome by most staff and the business

With office space in some areas being incredibly expensive, businesses must use every sq mm and as fire safety/ H&S subject matter experts, I reckon we all have a duty to make that happen but whilst maintaining safety standards

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