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Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

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Messy
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Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

Post by Messy »

Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency is proving difficult

Fire wardens

We have a problem with our large Head Office building where the occupancy of many thousands of staff has been reduced to a couple of hundred. The office provides a critical service to the community and cannot close or have its staff numbers be reduced further

Very few staff left at work are trained Fire Wardens, and are so busy, they cannot possibly receive any training or briefings to become Wardens as we have stopped virtually all meetings other than of the Crisis Management Group.

Due to the nature of the work carried on in this large building, its not possible to move those few staff onto the same floor which would help manage an evacuation, but of course, this would be contrary to the aim of maintaining social spacing anyway

We simply have no option in these exceptional times other than to apply 'best endeavours' in accounting for staff after an emergency evacuation. It is not a great place to be and I have had to brief the management board this 'less than compliant' stance is the only option.

Non- Essential Travel

I have also taken a difficult decision that for some smaller and low risk premises within our estate, I will not necessarily be reviewing their Fire Risk Assessments on time (as recorded in the FRA) and will extend the review period. This is doubtfully compliant as the review period should be set by the risk presented and NOT the ability to carry out the inspection.

Has anyone else experienced difficulties during these uncertain times??????

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Re: Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

Post by Alexis »

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Re: Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

Post by Ewangoil »

First off, i would review your fire risk assessment. With less staff, i would hazard a guess that the risk of, A, a fire starting, and B the consequences of a fire are going to be lower, so the question might then be, based on the number of staff you now have, are there enough fire wardens? The less staff you have the less fire wardens you need.
These are exceptional times and i know the HSE have extended the expiry dates for first aiders for 3 months. Maybe there is something similar in place regards fire safety.
In the interim, i would carry out some basic in house training and ensure all staff are aware of current fire procedures.

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Re: Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

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Re: Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

Post by grim72 »

Another thing to be wary of would be people moving desks etc to provide the two meter distancing rule and the potential impact that could have on escape routes/access etc?
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Re: Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

Post by Messy »

Thanks for the replies and ideas.
I like the Brighton approach and will send some comms to that effect.

It is really tricky having so few staff spread out across such a large area and not an easy one to address

Sadly I have seen no relaxation of any requirements similar to the HSE's pragmatic statement, even an email I sent to our local fire brigade for advice has not been answered even tho it is now 6 working days. A bit of a hot potato perhaps???

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Re: Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

Post by witsd »

Would it be possible to have a Skype conversation with some of the remaining staff on each floor, effectively deputising them into a fire warden role?

Regarding FRAs, our schedule has been completely thrown out of the window and I'm now helping with the logistics of getting food parcels to hundreds of isolating tenants.

We can only do what is reasonably practicable, and right now, completing FRAs is not.
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: Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

Post by Messy »

witsd wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:41 pm

We can only do what is reasonably practicable, and right now, completing FRAs is not.
We are now in a better place.
Our Fire Wardens will do what they can, but we have accepted and informed the local fire station they must not expect a full sweep

FRA reviews are suspended and travelling to other sites is for essential/critical work only

We have reshaped the workforce to have just a 25% occupancy level in the head office building - albeit for a much longer day on split shifts

The biggest issue is that on my advice, we have said if you cannot escape unaided, you must work from home. That's not gone down well with the PC brigade and a revolt/appeal by our workforce disabled group will be considered next week

Unprecedented times require exceptional measures so I will not shift to appease the PC crowd

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Re: Maintaining Fire Safety Compliance during this COVID Emergency

Post by Blackstone »

Messy wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 4:24 pm

The biggest issue is that on my advice, we have said if you cannot escape unaided, you must work from home. That's not gone down well with the PC brigade and a revolt/appeal by our workforce disabled group will be considered next week

Unprecedented times require exceptional measures so I will not shift to appease the PC crowd
Very reasonable and considered statement in my opinion ./thumbsup..

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