Event Fire Safety Management
Fire Safety Management is a vitally important component in the planning for any event.
There is a Legal requirement to give consideration to Fire Safety and, where necessary, implement Fire Safety arrangements. Consideration should always be given to the impact that complying with this legislation is going to have on you and your event.
P-J Fire Safety provide an extensive range of fire safety services and are pleased to provide clients with;
- Fire Safety Consultancy
- Fire Safety Risk Assessment
- Fire Safety Management Strategy
- Fire Safety Management
- Evacuation Strategy
- Crowd Safety Calculations
- Crowd Dynamic Assessment
At PJ Fire Safety we have a dedicated team of competent Fire Safety Officers who pride themselves on their friendly and helpful approach. We understand that by explaining to the client why something is required ensures that there is a total awareness of the need to commit resources to ensure compliance. By adopting an open and transparent communication style allows the client to be fully involved throughout the process.
Fire Safety is a very specific legal requirement. Every venue and every trader must undertake a Fire Safety Risk Assessment. They must make the findings available to the Event Organiser who has a legal duty to manage Fire Safety. The Event Organiser must then do their own Fire Risk Assessment, taking into account all the other fire risk assessments and make it available to all relevant persons.
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The Legal Bit Explained
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005* is the formal title although it is commonly referred to as the Fire Safety Order or FSO. It came into force in October 2006 and replaced references to fire safety previously contained in over a hundred other pieces of legislation such as the Fire Precautions Act, Licensing Act and Housing Acts. This single Order is now the only piece of fire safety legislation that is enforced by the fire authority and is therefore the one that needs to be complied with.
* which applies in England and Wales. The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 as amended and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 apply in Scotland.
The Fire Safety Order requires any person who has some level of control in premises where they operate – referred to as the Responsible Person or RP, to take reasonable steps to reduce the fire risks by implementing suitable and sufficient control measures. In addition to this suitable emergency procedures must be in place should a fire occur. It is worth noting that the only place that this legislation doesn’t apply is to an individual’s private house or flat.
Achieving a positive culture towards fire safety is very much a matter of common sense. However, event organisers will have to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to work through the necessary risk based process. This will enable suitable risk control measures to be identified and implemented in order to reduce the risk of a fire occurring.
What would happen if you had a fire at your event or someone was injured from a fire?
Fire Safety Consultancy
At P-J Fire Safety we have a team of competent Fire Safety Managers who specialise in event fire safety and who are able to work with the client from the initial idea stage of an event right the way through to the production to ensure that full legislative compliance is achieved. It is vitally important to be aware of what is required to comply with the legislation before commencement of the project.
During the scoping phase of a project we are able to advice and guide the client on the requirements of the Fire Safety Order and the resource and financial implications associated with this. By undertaking this at the very start of the planning process ensures that sufficient resources are allocated to fire safety and that it is not compromised later in the project when savings are looking to be made. Don’t forget – there is a legal obligation to deal with Fire Safety.
Many of our customers see the service provided by P-J Fire Safety as an insurance policy – it means they are being advised and guided by competent persons thus complying with the Fire Safety Order. Having someone undertake all the fire safety obligations allows you to concentrate on what you do best and that is the creation of unique events.
All events are unique and this is what makes them exciting and creates the buzz of anticipation. This uniqueness also creates challenges in relation to fire safety as the fire safety arrangements will need to be created from scratch. Although this has its benefits as it means that through effective planning and dialogue the solutions can be easily tailored to meet the specific requirements of the event.
Fire Safety Risk Assessment
What are the main requirements of the Fire Safety Order?
The Responsible Person is required to:
- Ensure that a fire risk assessment is undertaken by a competent person. This should identify the risks and hazards on the premises. Where there are more than five persons present at the premises the risk assessment must be written down;
- Consider who may be especially at risk in the event of a fire on the premises or from adjacent premises – e.g. disabled persons, children, the elderly etc;
- Eliminate or reduce the risk from fire, as far as is reasonably practical, and provide suitable and sufficient fire precautions to deal with any remaining risk;
- Take additional measures where there is a higher risk of fire to ensure safety – e.g. in locations where a significant amount of flammable or explosive materials are used or stored;
- Create an emergency plan. This sets out exactly what the emergency procedures for your premises will be should a fire related incident occur;
- Carry out regularly reviews of the fire risk assessment and amend the findings as necessary
You need to make sure that, based on the findings of the assessment, you take adequate and appropriate fire safety measures to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
In addition to these requirements the Fire Safety Order also places a duty on the Responsible Person to ensure the following areas have been adequately addressed;
- Means of detecting and giving warning of a fire
- Firefighting equipment
- Fire exits and escape routes
- Maintenance arrangements
- Appointing persons to assist with safety
- Information to sub contractors, visitors and neighbouring properties
- Staff training
Who is the responsible Person for your event?
Are they competent?
It is certainly worth asking the question before something goes wrong.
It is important to understand that the Fire Safety Order is very specific when it says that the Management of Fire Safety and the undertaking of a Fire Safety Risk Assessment should be carried out by a Competent Person. Competence is widely regarded as possessing the necessary skills, knowledge, understanding and experience to identify risk and implement suitable and sufficient control measures to mitigate the effects of a fire occurring.
Fire Safety Management Strategy
A fire safety management strategy serves as a useful document to event organisers as it clearly sets out the way in which fire safety will be managed. It provides clear direction and gives details to other agencies of the intent and commitment of the Responsible Person and the organisation to their duties under the Fire Safety Order.
Many Fire Authorities now routinely ask to see a Fire Safety Management provided at the point an application is made for a Premises Licence.
P-J Fire Safety are able to work with the responsible person to develop a Fire Safety Management for an organisation or for a specific event.
Fire Safety Management
Maintaining staff competence in areas away from the core business of your organisation is often difficult and costly. This is recognised by many of our clients who ask us to undertake the complete Fire Safety Management process for them.
This ‘total care package’ will commence from the point an idea is conceived and the planning process commences. A fire safety manager from P-J Fire safety will be on hand to provide advice and guidance on the legal implications of the Fire Safety Order, practical considerations and financial commitments associated with the event.
From the point it is decided that the event idea will go ahead the dedicated Fire Safety Manager from P-J Fire Safety will become the single point of contact and will manage all aspects of fire safety on behalf of the Responsible Person. This includes the liaison with the responsible authorities – Local Authority, Fire, Police, Health etc. in relation to fire safety and crowd dynamics issues.
This process is carried out in association with the Event Safety Officer with regular meetings being held with the Responsible Person to update on progress and address issues arising.
We all know that however meticulous your planning process incidents do occur at events. These incidents will require managing and may call for the full or partial evacuation of an individual premises or complete site. By preplanning and assessing the site and identifying the access and egress points allows for an Evacuation Strategy to be developed.
Using advanced Computer Aided Design (CAD) technology we are able to reproduce a detailed map of event site to show the normal and emergency evacuation routes. This information is then included in the Event Safety Plans and made available to the responsible authorities who utilise it to identify the ‘blue routes’ in the event of the need for their attendance.
Crowd Safety Calculations
Following changes in legislation there is confusion in relation to who is actually responsible for carrying out the calculations in relation to the maximum permitted numbers on a premises. Many feel that this still lies with the Fire Authority because they use to apply maximum occupancy figures through the fire certification process under the Fire Precautions Act 1971; some believe it is the Licensing Authority who have the ability to apply the numbers as a condition on the premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003.
In reality the Fire Precautions Act 1971 is no longer in existence having been replaced by the Fire Safety Order and the Responsible Authorities may, if they so choose, ask for occupancy figures to be made a condition of the premises licence – although this is rarely done.
The viability of an event is very often reliant on the number of people that can be accommodated – this is why it is vitally important that the actual permissible occupancy of a venue is agreed at the project planning phase.
The calculation of safe occupancy figures for premises is a responsibility of the Responsible Person. They are best placed to undertake these calculations as they know the purpose to which the premises is to be put and will have a detailed understanding of the layout of the actual available space (taking into account tables and chairs, stages etc.).
Specific guidance exists which sets out details on density factors to be used for differing scenarios – whether the premises is used theatre style; with a dance floor; people simply sat at tables or a combination of all of these. Calculating the density is straightforward but the issue is further complicated with the need to ascertain if suitable exit capacity exists to allow occupants to egress the premises in the event of an emergency.
Egress time is calculated on risk and this is ascertained through the risk assessment process. Once the risk is established this will indicate the time in which an evacuation must be achieved. The Flow rates through the exits is then calculated taking into account the demographics of the audience and the venue and this will then provide the safe occupancy figures.
Did you know the capacity of a premises is dictated by the available exit width available and not the available floor area?
Are you aware of the flow rates used when calculating the occupancy figures?
Fire Safety Managers from P-J Fire Safety are qualified and competent to undertake these calculations based on their knowledge of legislation and experience of working at events.
By undertaking this process an Event Organiser can be confident that they have all the necessary information at their disposal at the point they are required to make a decision on whether an event is financially viable. The key to success is to have identified any potential ‘show stoppers’ before significant financial expenditure has been committed.
Crowd Dynamics Assessment
The Doors realised in September 1967 that ‘People are strange’ and the study of crowd dynamics has subsequently confirmed this. Under normal circumstances people’s behaviour is usually very predictable and the vast majority of us do as we are told when asked nicely by someone.
In certain circumstances, including emergencies, people do things in a way that they wouldn’t normally dream of. When faced with unusual occurrences they have to react immediately. Very often they are witnessing events that they have never experienced before – this is where uncertainty and panic can occur.
A Crowd Dynamic Assessment looks at many aspects of crowd behaviour in order to implement a plan to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that crowd movement does not become an issue.
It is important to ascertain the demographics of the crowd (age, sex, alcohol, drugs etc.), the demographics of the venue and the access and egress arrangements within. By having this understanding a plan can be implemented to ensure that crowds do not come into conflict with each other or with other physical aspects of the venue (railings, narrow walkways etc.).
P-J Fire Safety are able to provide this service using Fire Safety Managers who have attended, and successfully completed, courses in Crowd Dynamics run by the Emergency Planning College.