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Fire Warden Refresher Training

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1 Fire Warden Refresher Training
Welcome. Domestics. Reason for event: Brief refresher of fire safety and fire warden role. New information regarding Human Behaviour in fire incidents – (an overview only as this subject alone could be discussed all day!) Duration of event – around 1 hour. Outline event (click to next slide) Richard Norris

2 Topics covered The Station fire incident – video
Brief reminder of everyone’s responsibilities for fire safety Brief reminder of the fire warden role Examples from the floor on how the role is put into practice in your building – VOLUNTARY (ish)! Overview of Human Behaviour in fire situations Questions – and hopefully answers! Session format: Two-way discussion with the opportunity for Q & A at the end. WARNING: The Station fire is a video taken at a concert in a small nightclub in Rhode Island, America. It is not top quality but it does depict the various stages of a fire and how people react. It graphically shows what can happen if most people try to escape using the same, familiar route.

3 Fire Safety Responsibilities
We are all responsible for fire safety This includes students, contractors and visitors We must all act in a fire safe manner Think how what we are doing and how we are doing it could affect fire safety (Risk Assessment?!) Line managers etc have additional responsibilities Building Fire Coordinators (BFC) have a central fire safety role in each building No need to talk about this slide too much – we are all responsible – an extension of HSWA Line managers carry additional responsibility in that they are responsible for the (fire) safety of their staff and their own (fire) safety Ask attendees if they know who their building’s BFC is?

4 The Fire Warden Role #1 Day-to-day role:
Monitor escape routes including refuges if installed Don’t allow house-keeping to slip (build-up of fire load) Keep an eye on extinguishers, smoke detectors, emergency lights and fire doors. Co-ordinate / liaise with other Fire Wardens This is just a reminder of what you all probably have been doing since your original training. It would be interesting to hear from some of you how successful you feel you have been? Any real life examples (wait until slide 7 for answers) Where you spot faults, defects or poor fire safety issues (e.g. combustibles stored/dumped in an escape route) report it to the Building Fire Coordinator or Departmental Safety Adviser

5 The Fire Warden Role #2 When the fire alarm sounds:
~ High visibility jerkin/jacket ~ Sweep towards your floor exit ~ If possible, turn off equipment, close doors/windows ~ Check accessible rooms, and refuges if installed. ~ Communicate the need to leave the building ~ Report to the BFC at the assembly area or incident control point ~ Debrief meeting after fire drills or false alarm evacuations DO NOT DELAY YOUR OWN ESCAPE by wasting time turning off all equipment, closing windows and doors, trying to convince people to leave, checking every room DO ONLY WHAT IS REASONABLE DO close doors onto stairs as you leave the floor (and close open doors on lower floors as you are passing – if found open)

6 Possible issues? Someone refuses to evacuate?
You are not in your area when the alarm sounds? Can you give examples of the first point? What was the outcome? I would expect FWs to say they either knew the individual and reported them to the BFC/officer in charge of the incident or they took the individuals name and reported them. I wouldn’t have a problem with a FW saying they told the person more than once as long as they didn’t stand there arguing. Have you encountered point 2 and what was the outcome? I would expect them to say they went straight to the BFC/officer in charge and told them they had not been able to sweep their area. This is where we can remind FWs of the need to get deputies and the deputy always sweeps too, or looks out for the FW and takes over the sweep if the FW is not there. This is also the time to mention the “good citizen” approach where obtaining sufficient FWs is an issue.

7 Real Life Examples? Information on how the role works in your buildings would be fantastic ... Any volunteers? If no volunteers choose one or two people to get the ball rolling… Maybe start by offering examples of what went on here or at a place you have worked/witnessed. E.G. At OPH we have had a number of false alarms and some fire drills Early drills and false alarms saw managers going back into the building rather than stay outside as the evacuation was taking place (they were returning from meetings) People would stand in the road rather than go to the assembly area No-one acted as coordinator and there were very few trained fire wardens (not the case now)! No-one officially searched for the cause but one or two people took it upon themselves to investigate BUT they did not use comms equipment to maintain contact with anyone who may have stayed at the panel Things are getting better and we now have someone acting as chief fire warden / coordinator who takes the role seriously and is very active in that role.

8 Human behaviour in fire
Avoidance - don’t want to believe it is really happening A huge subject that would take over an hour in its own right so today we will just introduce some ideas which can be developed in the next round of refresher training: Avoidance: Psychological response taken by people to protect themselves by denying the unpleasant situation. Can’t offer any real-life fire examples but it isn’t difficult to appreciate how some people may react this way. Think of some illnesses or addictions for example. Some people will deny they have a problem when deep down they know they do.

9 Human behaviour in fire
“Peer Pressure” – don’t want to appear foolish in front of others “Peer Pressure”: Don’t want to seem silly by taking the alarm seriously when others around do not. Classic case of the university study where volunteers were placed in a room and asked to complete a questionnaire. After a short while a fire alarm was started but as no-one was told what the fire alarm sounded like and as no-one came to tell them what to do, the volunteers continued with the questionnaires, albeit some a little uneasily. There was little communication between the volunteers. A little later “smoke” was allowed into the room. This could be seen to concern some of the volunteers but as most continued with the questionnaires they did too. Only when the person who brought them into the room asked them to leave did they do so. This example also identifies other forms of human behaviour: reliance on the authoritative figure; lack of information brought about incorrect responses; continue with work (linked to previous example); disregard (again linked to previous)

10 Human behaviour in fire
Continue with work, Disregard, Unconvinced All examples of COMPLACENCY Continue with work / disregard / commitment: Think it’s just another false alarm, pressure to get a job completed “just finish this ” Lack of information, knowledge or understanding can also bring about some of these responses. People experiencing of too many false alarms will inevitably lead to some disregarding an alarm, or not being convinced it is a real alarm Complacency I don’t think you need any examples of this as we probably see it in our own workplace!

11 Human behaviour in fire
Spectator sport / “friendly fire” Examples: Woolworths fire in 1979 Stardust Disco Dublin 1981 Bradford City Football Stadium fire in 1985 Spectator sport / “friendly fire”: Feel safe (as in bonfire) so stand to watch e.g. Stardust Disco in Dublin Using a bonfire as an example, it is relatively “controlled” in that in public events there are barriers, people managing the event. Domestic bonfires are often not so well managed but we still feel reasonably safe and can stand close to it without being burned or set on fire. We certainly don’t experience oxygen depletion but may get a “taster” of what it’s like to inhale smoke! Also, in a bonfire it is normally only timber, paper, cardboard, garden waste etc ... No “nasties” from burning plastic, rubber etc. Unless someone has put something they shouldn’t have in there. Finally, apart from the radiated heat felt by those standing too close to it, the heat and smoke from a bonfire is dissipated upwards into the atmosphere. A fire inside a building obviously does not do that until windows break etc so the smoke and heat remains within a room/building and will much more rapidly begin to affect occupants. Other forms of human behaviour here include lack of understanding, lack of knowledge, lack of information.

12 Human behaviour in fire
Conferring, Seeking guidance Conferring / seeking guidance / role: Telephoning others to ask if it is a real fire or not, asking supervisor what to do. People expect to be lead / instructed rather than act on their own initiative Examples: University study mentioned earlier BT telephone exchange/office building where smoke from a bonfire outside was sucked in via air-handling units and set off the fire alarm within the building. Managers on different floors were phoning each other trying to decide what to do; they were phoning the security guard who would not make a decision. All this time staff were sat at their desks taking calls / working until someone eventually made the right decision. Senior managers need to set an example and not stand around outside the building – they should go straight to the assembly area.

13 Human behaviour in fire
Affiliation – desire or need to help others, especially family Example: Summerland Leisure Complex, Isle of Man (50 dead) Affiliation: people are social animals and want to help others – especially family members (Summerland 1973 Isle of Man where children were in a club while parents were elsewhere – bar etc when a fire occurred). Parents obviously tried to reach their children rather than make their escape confident in the knowledge they would meet their children at the pre-arranged assembly points. Other examples of human behaviour here include lack of information, lack of knowledge (and poor management!)

14 Human behaviour in fire
Lack of understanding – of the alarm sound, of speed of fire, of the hazards from fire Lack of information – what is that noise? what does it mean? what do I do? No one has told me! Lack of understanding: Most people do not appreciate the dangers from fire or the speed a fire can develop so don’t do the right thing. Remember the Xmas tree fire video? The room was completely on fire within 40 seconds Lack of information: when a fire alarm is heard it is just a sound – no other information e.g. Location of activation, which way to go etc In your role as fire wardens you have all encountered people who have been a little slow to leave when the fire alarm sounds, trying to tell you they didn’t know what the sound was ....

15 Human behaviour in fire
Panic? What is panic? When do people really panic? Panic?: Most people do not, but their actions often considered as such because they are reacting to changing circumstances with little knowledge or understanding. There are four “stages” of “Panic”: 1. Hope for escape even with closing escape routes (diminishing options) 2. Contagious behaviour, especially if “leader” is affected by the fire, either loses control or is lost to the fire 3. “Aggressive concern” for own safety rather than concern for others 4. Irrational, illogical response to the fire situation Numerous studies suggest that in fact most people do not panic when trying to escape from a fire although they are highly motivated to escape and their urgent actions may be misconstrued as panic. Often those who are lost to fire were seen to be behaving calmly near the end even though they probably knew there was little hope (Remember the man in the Bradford video) Panic is a concept often used by media and film directors for dramatic effect

16 Human behaviour in fire
Physical capabilities and limitations –Health, Age, Size, Fitness: the fitter you are the better your chance of surviving a fire? THE HUMAN FACTOR Two different people can react differently to the same situation when it occurs. One of these people can also act one way today and totally different a week from now. There are certain factors that will determine how we will act under fire situations. How we react to heat, smoke and flame is based on the following Age - the very young and the elderly are less able to withstand the effects of fire. Statistics show that these two age groups have the highest fatality rate during fires Size - larger people can tolerate higher doses of toxic materials that are generated during a fire. But size can also be a negative factor when considered with a lack of physical conditioning Pre-existing physical condition - the overall condition of an individual will have an effect on their survivability in a fire. This includes # cardiac stability # aerobic condition # mobility [ weight, flexibility, muscular/skeletal diseases] Respiratory capacity - the majority of fire deaths are a result of smoke inhalation. Because of this a persons respiratory capacity is critical to their survival. Any chronic diseases such as emphysema or asthma will lower this capacity. Acute conditions such as flu, pneumonia will also have an effect on capacity. Cigarette smoking will also raise the body’s level of carbon monoxide which will reduce the body’s ability to take in oxygen. Medication, drugs, alcohol - over the counter and prescribed drugs, as well as alcohol can reduce a person’s ability to recognize a dangerous situation and react to it. Recent estimates say that at least 10% of the residential fatalities were impaired by alcohol or drugs. The age group of 20 to 64 years old were twice as impaired as the general population. Estimates also show that men are more prone to be affected by drugs or alcohol than women.

17 Human behaviour in fire
Hazards from fire – heat, smoke, oxygen depletion, flames Hazards from fire: Temperature, Heat (flux), Smoke, Oxygen depletion

18 The Station fire Rhode Island nightclub February 2003
Fire at rear of stage caused by pyrotechnics 100 killed, 230 injured Nightclub engulfed in fire in 5 1/2 minutes Most people tried to leave the way they entered – by the front door … Watch how people react through the various stages of the fire. RUN VIDEO for around 2 minutes only … no need for longer Do you see panic? Not at first! Official investigation and research indicate two stages of “panic” took place – individuals’ hopes to escape through dwindling resources; aggressive concern about own safety. But even some of those trying to help were not really – trying to pull people from the bottom of the pile rather than more easily pulling people off the top

19 Station floor plan This building had what I think is a significant design flaw – no alternative exits at the rear of the building To comply with UK building standards there needs to be sufficient fire exits of a suitable width to cater for the anticipated numbers of people within it. The people in the middle of the building had real alternatives for means of escape – they could turn their back and walk away – you will have seen the calm expressions on those leaving early on But people around the edges of the building and those close to the stage only had one direction of escape – away from the stage. Had there been another final exit at the rear of the building many more people would have survived (see next slide) Had the route to / from the front door been better designed (knowing how people respond in a fire) there would not have been a narrow corridor to pass through so again more people may have survived.

20 The Station Fire – fatalities at the scene
You can see that the majority of people died either in the congested corridor to the front door or on the approaches to it. 26 people would probably have survived had there been a final exit from the rear of the building (steps suggest there may have been one but it was no longer available) How effective would escape signs or escape lights been once the smoke layer had covered them? Windows are not normally considered as a means of escape but if there is nothing else available ….. Remember “Friendly Fire” and the spectator sport?

21 Summary We are all responsible for fire safety
Fire wardens are essential to help the University safely manage escapes from fire In a fire alarm / real fire people sometimes do strange things but they don’t often “panic” Failing to use all available escape routes can and does cost lives.

22 Any questions?

23 THANK YOU! Contact me on: 01179 298784 (x 87848), 07786 397655 or
Change this phone number to your own

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