This is a question that often gets asked, especially if it is an established company that has been running for many years without ever having a fire or a fire-related incident. Well, the answer is yes, you should have a trained fire fighter in your workplace.
There is not just a moral obligation on the employer but also a legal duty to have a trained fire fighter in the workplace.
The Importance of Fire Safety in the Workplace
Every company should have a pro-active fire prevention program in place. Prevention is better than cure and the best way to extinguish a fire is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Fighting a fire is a high-risk activity, and this risk can be greatly reduced if an employee is trained to recognise possible fire hazards and being able to reduce or even eliminate these hazards.
The value of having a trained fire fighter in the workplace will be only really appreciated in the event of a fire occurring. They will be able to recognise the class of fire, what type of extinguisher to use, how to notify everyone in the workplace about the fire, how to notify the local fire department and the correct use of the fire fighting equipment. They will be able to determine whether the fire can be safely extinguished or whether restricting the fire and evacuation would their option of choice.
Understanding the OHS Act 85 of 1993
The Occupational Health and Safety Act No. 85 of 1993 is very clear about risks in the workplace. Section 8 of the OHS Act is the General duties of employers to their employees. Below are some extracts of Section 8:
(1) Every employer shall provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of its employees.
(2) d. establishing, as far as is reasonably practicable, what hazards to the health or safety of persons are attached to any work which is performed, any article or substance which is produced, processed, used, handled, stored or transported and any plant or machinery which is used in his business, and he shall, as far as is reasonably practicable, further establish what precautionary measures should be taken with respect to such work, article, substance, plant or machinery in order to protect the health and safety of persons, and he shall provide the necessary means to apply such precautionary measures;
e. providing such information, instructions, training, and supervision as may be necessary to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees.
f. as far as is reasonably practicable, not permitting any employee to do any work or to produce, process, use, handle, store or transport any article or substance or to operate any plant or machinery, unless the precautionary measures contemplated in paragraphs (b) and (d), or any other precautionary measures which may be prescribed, have been taken.
i. ensuring that work is performed, and that plant or machinery is used under the general supervision of a person trained to understand the hazards associated with it and who have the authority to ensure that precautionary measures taken by the employer are implemented.
Criteria for Requiring a Trained Fire fighter
Based on the above it becomes clear that there is a legal duty on the employer to eliminate or mitigate any hazard in the workplace. Fire is an ever-present risk and steps should be taken to deal with it. These steps will include doing fire risk assessments, providing the correct fire fighting equipment, sending employees for fire training, providing qualified supervision by having people trained to recognise and deal with hazards and much more.
The SANS 10400 Building Regulations prescribes specific requirements for the workplace, e.g., the number of extinguishers required based on occupancy type, size, and specific hazards for the business as well as the requirements for evacuation, fire exit doors, evacuation routes and more.
Types of Fire fighting Courses and Training
A common question people have is: Where can I study a fire fighting course? Absolute Health Services provides two fire fighting courses specifically aimed at the workplace.
Our Basic Fire fighting course is aimed mostly at offices and includes the functions and tasks of the fire marshall.
Our Advanced Fire fighting course is aimed at businesses with higher and specific risks. This course deals with bigger fast spreading fires as well as specific hazards, e.g., flammable liquids, chemicals etc. On this course students will learn how to correctly use their PPE and how to use 38mm and 45mm fire hoses should the need arise.
Benefits of Having a Trained Fire fighter in the Workplace
Having an employee go on firefighter training means there is always someone ready to respond in an emergency, minimising damage to the company’s assets and probably even saving lives.
Apart from doing risk assessments and daily, weekly, or monthly fire marshall checklists, they will do inspections of high-risk areas, keep an eye on general housekeeping and ensure the business is prepared to deal with any situation that may arise. This should in turn create awareness and better preparedness among fellow employees.
Meeting Compliance through Professional Training
Be proactive and take the correct steps towards compliance and fire safety.
We offer firefighting courses in Johannesburg and Cape Town as well as Durban and Port Elizabeth. The value of businesses investing in accredited fire training courses for their employees cannot be underestimated. Choosing a reputable company like Absolute Health Services ensures that your firefighter course requirements are met and are aligned to the correct unit standards.