What facilities managers need to know about fire safety

Among facilities management teams, there is usually a 'responsible person' who has been nominated to respond in the event of a fire. For those designated people, fire safety for the wider team is a huge responsibility and one that shouldn't be taken lightly. As such, there are some key factors to be aware of when it comes to fire safety on your premises.

Legal Information

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is a piece of documentation that governs fire safety laws in the workplace. These regulations reinforce the need to give staff sufficient knowledge of their responsibilities in relation to fire safety, evacuation procedures and fire exits, as well as hazard reporting. It is important that this information is conveyed to employees through regular fire safety training sessions to reduce any risks in the working environment.

Causes of Fire

Prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to fires. That is why facilities management teams should be aware of the science behind how fires are caused and be able to educate their colleagues on the dangers. The easiest way to understand how fires form is to examine the universal 'fire triangle', a diagram that shows the three elements required to start a fire: heat, fuel and oxygen. In addition, the responsible person should themselves understand what exactly is meant by these terms and how to combat a fire by taking one of these out of the equation (for instance, cold water to counteract the heat element).

Types of Fire

Though any fire is bad news, blazes are separated into different types that are determined by the materials involved in causing them. As well as understanding the causes of fire, facilities management teams should also be aware of these different types. Class A, for example, is assigned to a fire that involves the burning of solid materials such as wood, fabrics, plastic or paper. Naturally, Class A fires are quite common in war

The biggest mistakes that facilities managers can make

Facilities managers work in an industry that throws many difficult day-to-day challenges at them, meaning that it can be very hard for them to make the right decision every time. However, there are some mistakes that are hard to bounce back from, as will be explained below.

Not Sticking to Guidelines

It goes without saying in almost every industry that meetings should be fully documented to provide a clear representation of the discussion, any issues raised and any expectations that emerge from the exchange. Yet far too often, senior members of facilities management are chatting to employees in an informal setting and not taking down notes. This is a huge mistake because some people don't always listen fully, don't have a good memory or may not completely understand where they stand, so the chances are that any actionable requests get missed. The best thing to do is to ensure all important discussions are carried out professionally with minutes taken or with a summary sent in writing by email to all involved following the meeting.

Similarly, not following compliance guidelines, such as obtaining signatures, permits and sign-offs for projects, can have devastating effects on an existing project or one that is just starting up. Though people in the industry have the best intentions and are usually just keen to get the job done fast for impatient clients, neglecting important steps and processes can lead to projects being cut or not approved. This will ultimately cause more customer-client relationship issues than if you were to spend a little extra time making sure that all regulations are followed.

A Lack of Organisation

With such a broad range of responsibilities, those in facilities management need to stay on top of their daily workload and tasks, so finding suitable ways to help stay focused is paramount. Creating spreadsheets is a great way of planning milestones and delegating work to your facilities management team. Remembering to consider your employees' strengths when planning projects is also key - you do not want to wind up doing all the work yourself just to meet deadlines because you failed to plan properly at the start of the project. When your workers successfully complete tasks, it's important to recognise their efforts too. Praising your team for hard work can keep the morale of your people high and lead to more seamless projects.

Failing to Keep Abreast of the Latest Facilities Management Developments

Being aware of the market and any new developments is vital to remaining on top of your game. Facilities managers should be aware of local markets as well as nationwide business issues, or their lack of attention could negatively impact on their clients and projects. However, keeping yourself informed doesn't just protect you from negative project outcomes - it also helps with employee retention. Facilities managers need to be aware of what their competitors are offering to employees and ensure that they can meet, if not exceed, these expectations.

Don't fall into the trap. Make sure that you are in a position to overcome any issues that the industry throws at you![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]