Fire & Rescue Assessment and Management

Introduction

Fire departments are stations set up by the government, whose main tasks are to provide protection and education to the citizens concerning fires and their hazards. Usually, the government does this by allocating specific areas of jurisdiction where a certain fire department is commissioned to serve under. The Fire and Rescue Services Act of 1994 has mandated Local Fire Stations to do their best in reducing the number of fires that are caused in their areas of jurisdiction. This is an Act by the government that fully stipulates the mandate of the fire department, and in this particular Act, the government has also given a backing to the local fire brigade in several areas. Local fire fighters are being provided with fire station colleges that will give them knowledge and skill for further service to the community. New negotiation bodies are being set up through the Act in order to negotiate payment of fire fighters, new pension schemes are being created in this Act for financial security in their future, financial support for the fighters is being extended and also the fire fighters are given the mandate to investigate fire causes (The Source par.3). This article also gives the main reason of the amendments: prevention of fires. Prevention has been placed at the core of the Act in order to create safer communities and so as to reduce the amount of necessary resources required to fight fires.

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Fires are caused by a number of factors, some of which are unavoidable, while others are. The need to educate the entire population in measures that should be undertaken so as to prevent and protect human beings against possible fires is a crucial and should be addressed with full backing from the government.

One of those areas that need to be looked into with keenness as pertains to fire safety is the accommodation areas for students. Due to the lifestyle that students portray in their daily activities, measures to address safety issue is priority in order to preserve precious lives. The report intends to analyze potential hazards and the under laying risks that are identified through these hazards, after which we will suggest measures that need to be undertaken in order to reduce this impact. We will do so through a “risk assessment” which will enable us to achieve this goal. Through a “Service Integrated Risk Management Plan, we will discuss how prevention, protection, and response activities will be uses to alleviate risks caused by fires in a cost effective way. By doing so, we may probably have made a step in saving a life that would probably be taken through a fire.

Risk Assessment Test Overview

In the U.K. the Health Service Executive (HSE) is in charge of regulating any activities that concerns the health of its citizens. The ability to manage the health risks that are potential in any business or home set up gives an individual a heads up in knowing what or what not to risk doing in order to avoid accidents. This is done relatively well through a risk assessment test, whose main purpose is to help curb accidents and health in any work or residential area (Health and Safety Executive 1). Everyone is legally required to assess his/her premises in order to lay down a plan that will help you to prevent such risks that might occur, after which

The Fire Safety Risk Assessment (9-36) gives an overview of the specifics that need to be looked at as you assess risk in an area of accommodation like the one that we are looking into in this essay.

Assessment Test

Identification of Hazards

There are three prerequisites for a fire. These are a source of ignition, the fuel required and finally, we have oxygen. The lack of any of the three will mean that the fire will not start. Most of what we are to look at lies on the source of the fire. This is because it is impossible to cut down on oxygen since it is virtually everywhere, while fire fuel can be obtained easily from most of our household belongs made of such materials as wood and clothing. Igniting sources will therefore include such sources as smokers’ materials, naked flames (candles, gas or open flames), electric and gas heaters, boilers, welding sources, machines which have hot surfaces, lighting sources and arson. Though they seem to be quite inadequate, house and hotel fires are started generally by these kinds of simple sources, and are fuelled to intense nature through the household products that we possess in our homes. These will include materials such as textile, waste products like paper waste, flammable liquids like solvents, some chemicals used at home, different kinds of home decorations, some liquid based products which might be flammable, and even the walls themselves.

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Identification of People at Risk

There are a number of groups of people that need to be considered at this step. In an accommodation complex, according to Garrow, (par.6), people who are asleep, employees who are isolated, for example, cleaners and the maintenance crews, guests who are unfamiliar with the premises, the young, and possibly any people who may be disabled are at risk of fire threat in such a building as this. Such people need to be taken into consideration as we assess any risk because they may either be unfamiliar with escape exits in case of a fire or may not be in the position to help them out.

Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk

In a building that is used for more than one purpose, it in necessary that the parties involved cooperates in order to evaluate the risks involved in case a fire starts. In doing so, one will be able to assess the risks that possibly can be generated by others while in their daily activities. Generally, fires will be caused by one of three of the causes given below. First, we have causes that are accidental. These may be through sources of fire not being fully extinguished, or through improper handling of the fire source, for example, when the source is knocked over by a person accidentally. The second cause is by omission. When such sources as electrical equipment are allowed to operate in risk potential places, a fire is likely to start. Thirdly, a fire may start out through deliberate action, as in an arson attack (Shields par. 1).

In a student’s accommodation centre, the most likely sources of fire will be those caused by careless use of electronics. Students may not be vey careful on how they operate their electronics such as computers, soldering irons, media devices and many other electronics that they may possess. In addition, students will more often than not want to cook for themselves thus increasing the percentage of hazard that presents itself. Hot surfaces like iron boxes are another potential soured as they may be left carelessly on by students. If that is not all, many students who engage in smoking activities pose yet another risk to this accommodation complex, seeing as open fires like those of cigarettes are a possible source of fire.

Spread of fire in such a place as this will more often than not be through radiation. Many of the house equipment that is used are made of combustible solid materials, which will absorb heat until they burst into flames. Nevertheless, the biggest heat transfer killer to be worried about is convection. Smoke rises up and accommodates itself at the top. If there are no escape routes the smoke produced cause unconsciousness, seeing as most smoke from such combustion produces toxic gases that are harmful to the human being (Sacadura par.2).

Since fires are mostly likely to start inside rooms or cubicles, then escape routes will probably be located in areas like hall ways, which lead to emergency exits that are located at the end of the hall ways with stairways or ladders leading to the bottom of the building. Fire fighting machinery may be placed on the hallways, and these will include fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

One step that can be taken in removing or minimizing hazards that may be caused by fires will include installing protecting devices on the sockets of the electronics used by the residents of the facility. Devices such as fridge guards will help minimize cases of power surges that are a potential cause of electrical fires. Smoking zone policies can be made operational in the building in order to centralize this source of fire. Gas and other electrical appliances need to be installed via manufactures instruction and specifications. Circuit breakers and fuses need to be in their correct rating according to the specifications of the manufacturer, so as to avoid electrical faults that begin fires. Areas where hot work is performed need to be installed with smoke detection in order to ensure that no ignition has taken place.

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Orpheum (par.7) examines what is regarded as an unusual but very important fire fuel source. He explains that the outside environment, that is, flowers, bushes and hedges need to be neatly done so as to avoid possible fire spread from one place to another. Inside the house, we are to ensure that furniture, laundry and other potential sources are kept safely from ignition sources, while informing the cleaning staff about the dangers posed by using some of the cleaning agents near possible igniting sources. In general, everything that anyone uses in the accommodation facility should be used in a wise manner and should be placed back to the position where it belonged.

Since the aim in all this is reducing the level of possible rick as much as possible, then one of the only remaining agendas in this step is to inform as mush as possible, the residents in this hostel of the dangers posed at being irresponsible with fire ignition sources.

Record, Plan, Inform, Instruct and Train

What is now left is to record these findings in such a manner that will assist in finding a possible risk management system as pertains to fire emergencies. In recording, one should consider putting down such things as the actions that he has taken in reducing the risk. Consider also the people who are at risk, and the people who are in charge of nay duty in case a fire starts. One should also indicate the instructions that are needed in making the residents prepared for possible fire threats.

Review

Though it seems like a step that is not so important, it is important to go over the steps that one has undertaken after some time, basically because of changes that might take place over time. Some of these changes will include changes in the use of premises, change in the activities that are carried out in the residential area, alterations that are bound to happen over time in the building, the fluctuations of the number of people in the building, and also the fluctuations the number of people that have disabilities. These factors and many other fluctuations make it necessary to go through the fire assessment protocol over certain periods of time in order to be more up to date in what kind of measures are to be undertaken when a fire starts in the building (Desktop Lawyer par.2).

Fire & Rescue service ‘Integrated Risk Management Plan’

This is a plan that involves the public safety of the residential of the accommodation complex in question. The plan gives a vivid sample of how it aims at preventing of possibility of a fire, and also gives some education about awareness and promotion of safety in the area. In the event of a fire, it gives the interventions that will be pursued in order to alleviate the damages that might be caused by the fire.

The first thing that one needs to look into when drawing up the plan is to look into the risks involved, identifying each and every one of them. A risk can be termed as anything that can potentially ignite a fire into existence. In the earlier discussion about risk assessment, we have identified some of the potential risks in a student accommodation area, and these will give a range of items that will include gas cookers, electric as well as gas boilers, open fires like candles, cigarettes, and bushfires, electronic sources like computers and media players as well as heating sources like iron boxes and soldering irons.

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The next thing that the plan does is to look at the current steps that have been taken in preventing the fires that might occur. Most modern residential buildings may have installed in them a fire escape route that may or may not be effective in case of a fire. In addition, most buildings have a couple of fire extinguishers placed at strategic points that are at standby just in case a fire starts. All the same, some measures of prevention can be added just to ensure more safety in case of a fire. This may include automating the fire detection devices in the building, so as to signal the residents immediately any signs of fire occur. Another improvement may include giving clearer signs showing exactly where the fire escape channels are, apart from only writing about them on the escape doors. The fire extinguishers can be varied in order to make them more efficient in putting out fires. On the realization that different fires arise from different sources, different agents are used to quench these fires. These include different extinguishers for type A to type E of fires. These are fires caused by solid material, fires that are caused by liquids, fires caused by gases, electrical fires, fires that are better put out by dust, and fires that depend on the ratio of gas in it atmosphere (Mullard Fire Protection par.1).

Another measure that can be undertaken is a rich training of the locals concerning the prevention and precautionary measures that can be taken in dealing with a fire. The residents should be drilled through escape time, the complexities that are involved in escaping, evacuation procedures that need to be taken, need of using lifts through the fire, assembly points in case of a fire, and how to effectively use devices like fire extinguishers. Fire drills should be performed on regular basis and should involve the whole accommodation area. The residents should also be equipped with the necessary first aid measures that they need to undertake in and/or outside a building containing fire. They should understand the different ways of how to conduct themselves within a building on fire. These are just the general measures that are to be taken in any risk management plan that involves fire and rescue attempts.

Before a building is constructed, the building plan should include a water storage area specifically for the sake of fire. Underground water tanks are reliable for this and a resource that is never to be assumed.

Conclusion

Fire control, preventive and cautionary measures are core in making sure that we live safe lives within the confines of our residential areas. Some of the measures taken to achieve safety are extremely expensive, while others, like fire drills seem to be a waste of time and resource. Other measures, like risk assessment seems to be a waste of resources. Nevertheless, we can never assume the risks that present themselves over and over again in our daily activities. These risks may give rise to infernos that are beyond our control, yet we may have a chance to prevent them from happening, or even spreading and causing greater harm.

References

  1. Garrow, Keith. Fire Risk Assessment Checklist – Five Step Checklist To Carry Out A Fire Risk Assessment. Article Base, 2009.
  2. Health and Safety Executive. Why is risk assessment important, 2010.
  3. Mullard Fire Protection. What Are The Types Of Fire? 2006.
  4. Sacadura, John. Radiative heat transfer in fire safety science. 2004.
  5. Shields, Matthew. Common Reasons for House Fires. EzineArticles. 2010.
  6. The Fire Safety Risk Assessment. Fire risk assessment. Bressenden Place, London: Department for Communities and Local Government. Print. 2006.
  7. The Source. Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 – ODPM Factsheets. Health & Safety News Brief Occupational Health & Safety Information Service (OHSIS). 2004.

Appendix 1

A.2 Example form for recording significant findings

Risk Assessment – Record of significant findings
Risk assessment for
Building: Commercial building

Location: Newsbury

Assessment undertaken by
Date: 6thJune 2010
Completed by:
Signature:
Sheet number Floor/area: Use:
Step 1 – Identify fire hazards
Sources of ignition
The source of ignition was naked gas flame used for heating purposes.
Sources of fuel
Wood from furniture within the building and flamable paint from the wall were the major sources of fuel.
Sources of oxygen
The main source of oxygen was wind which was blowing at a constant rate.
Step 2 – People at risk
The major groups of people to whom the fire posed a risk were the employees and visitor.
Step 3 – Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
(3.1) Evaluate the risk of the fire occurring

(3.2) Evaluate the risk to people from a fire starting in the premises

(3.3) Remove and reduce the hazards that may cause a fire

(3.4) Remove and reduce the risks to people from a fire.

There is a low probability of fire occuring since all the fire sources are well maintained. However, the fire occurred as a result of an accident in the process of handling the fire source by the employees.

There is a high probability of the occupants (employees and visitors) being affected by the fire. For example if there are no escape routes the smoke produced may cause unconsciousness, since the smoke from such combustion produces toxic gases that are harmful to the human being. In addition, some of the occupants may decide to jump from the building if fire exit points are not available. As a result they may end up breaking their limbs or even death.

Inorder to minimise chances of fire occuring, alternative sources of heating should be used in the building for heating purposes. This should be mainly through use of electircal gadgets which will be well fitted and protected from power surge.

In order to minimize the risk by fire to people, the building should be fitted with effective fire fighting equipments such as fire extinguishers. Employees should also be trained on how to use th fire fighting devices installed. In addition, fire exits should be clear to facilitate ease of exit.

Assessment review
Assessment/review date
6thJune 2010
Completed by Signature
Review outcome (where substantial changes have occurred a new record sheet should be used)

Notes:

  1. The risk assessment record of significant findings should refer to other plans, records or other documents as necessary.
  2. The information in this record should assist you to develop an emergency plan; co-ordinate measures with other ‘responsible persons’ in the building; and to inform and train staff and inform other relevant persons.

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