Ladies and gentlemen, this is toolbox talk number 5 (Not Mambo No. 5. Unfortunately).

Toolbox Talks Safety Training Scotland

Here’s what we’ve covered so far:

1. Introduction to H&S and Accidents and Ill Health
2. Introduction to Health and Safety Legislation and Risk Assessments.
3. Hazardous Substances and Personal Protective Equipment
4. Workplace Health Safety & Welfare, Vehicles At Work, Plant Machinery & Equipment

Whether you’ve been with us since the first toolbox talk or wether you’re just here for the fire – welcome!

If you’ve not done this before, then start by heading over to our blog ‘What’s the deal with toolbox talks’ to get the low down on why these are so great (if we say so ourselves).

Our fifth toolbox talk is one of the more exciting ones if you ask us! Tag along as we dig into what you need to know about fire safety, and what your employees need to know!

Fire

Fire normally generates three different types of hazards: heat, oxygen depletion and smoke.

Fire safety training scotland

Heat

The most obvious hazard is heat. Although the majority of fire deaths are caused by smoke, many deaths and severe injuries are caused by burns. When the temperature of skin reaches 45℃, it’s associated with pain.

A room fire can range from 100℃ at floor level to 1200℃ at the ceiling.

As temperatures rise above 160℃, skin will burn with permanent injuries, and if extremely hot air is inhaled it can scorch internal organs.

Oxygen Depletion

A decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) can cause serious harm to the brain. As fire roars and grows, it consumes enormous amounts of Oxygen. I.e. a 3MW fire in a normal house will normally consume all the oxygen inside it in under 30 seconds.

The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen. If the oxygen intake is interrupted for more than 3 minutes the brain can suffer irreversible damage.

Smoke

Smoke is all the airborne products of the pyrolysis and combustion of materials, and it can be very toxic. It’s particles, gases such as carbon monoxide, volatilised organic molecules, aerosols and free radicals.

A fire often gives off a dark, thick smoke. In a serious fire, it can be hard to see what’s ahead and where you’re going. Breathing in even the smallest amount of the toxic smoke can disorient a person quickly, causing them to pass out.

Make sure your employees:

  • Are aware of the different hazards that fire generates

The fire triangle

The fire triangle is a simple model for understanding the dynamics of fire. In order for a fire to ignite, there must be fuel, heat and oxygen.

The fire triangle Safety Training Scotland

Fuel isn’t just referring to the likes of petroleum, oil, etc. Fuel in this case, refers to all materials that are combustible. This includes paper, oils, wood, fabrics, rubber etc.
Heat must be present for the ignition to take place. Flammable materials will give off flammable vapours when heat is present and this will in turn combust.
Oxygen is the lifeline of fire. A healthy environment will have around 21% of oxygen and a fire only needs 16% to burn.

To stop a fire, one of the three elements must be removed. I.e. if you take away the oxygen, the fire will suffocate. If you cool the fire down, it will lose heat and eventually go out. And if you remove the fuel, it will smoulder out.

Make sure your employees:

  • Know the dynamics of fire
  • Know how to stop fire theoretically

How to prevent and stop the spread of fire

Let’s start by breaking the fire into its three main components once again: heat, oxygen and fuel.

Heat

Heat usually originates from people smoking, ill maintained plant and equipment, hot work, neglected electrical safety or arson.

Heat is occasionally inevitable, in which case it is important that this heat is kept away from fuel or that it’s being carefully managed under a controlled environment.

Fuel

As previously mentioned, flammable materials (fuel) are materials that burn readily in a normal atmosphere. It’s important that all these flammable materials are identified and that appropriate measures are taken to control them. You need to store these materials appropriately, and in appropriate quantities, furthermore you need to maintain good housekeeping. For extra volatile flammable materials, make sure that these are stored with extra precautions.

Oxygen

The air we breathe contains ~21% of oxygen. With just a small increase to say 23% oxygen – a fire will burn hotter and more fiercely. With just a little more oxygen in the air, a fire can become almost impossible to pu out.

If you’ve got any equipment that could be leaking oxygen, you need to ensure that these are safeguarded properly.

What fire extinguisher to use?

Choosing a fire extinguisher is often easier said than done, especially if you’re working in an environment where there source of the fire could be a range of different things.

Nonetheless, it is extremely important to be able to choose the right fire extinguisher, or you can end up getting seriously hurt.

Check out our article Which Fire Extinguisher Should I Use For Each Type of Fire for a more in depth breakdown of types of fires matched with extinguishers.

Make sure your employees:

  • Know how to maintain plant and equipment in safe manner
  • Are trained on how to store and manage flammable materials
  • Are trained on how to store and manage oxygen tanks
  • Know where fire extinguishers are located
  • Are trained to use the fire extinguishers
  • Can identify the source of a fire and match it with the appropriate fire extinguisher

Emergency exits and fire safety training

It’s of the utmost importance (and a legal requirement in the UK) that you have clear emergency exits and a fire safety evacuation plan laid out.

Emergency exit signs

Your plan must have (gov.uk):

  • a clear passageway to all escape routes
  • clearly marked escape routes that are as short and direct as possible
  • enough exits and routes for all people to escape
  • emergency doors that open easily
  • emergency lighting where needed
  • training for all employees to know and use the escape routes
  • a safe meeting point for staff

When new employees start, you need to train them so that they will know where to go and what to do should a dangerous situation arise or the alarms go off.

You should carry out at least one fire drill per year and record the results. These results must be kept as part of the fire safety and evacuation plan.

Make sure your employees:

  • Know that it is everyone’s responsibility to report dangers
  • Know how and where to report dangers
  • Are all aware of the routes of escape
  • Know the meeting point

Need help planning and running your toolbox talks?

We’ve been doing health and safety training for many years now, and we’re damn good at it! If the sound of adding toolbox talks to your weekly routine has tickled your fancy, but you aren’t quite sure how to execute it – give us a call! We can help you plan and run your toolbox talks to make sure your team is up to date with the latest and most important health and safety good practise.