FIRE PROTECTION

I. GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF ST. JAMES RESEARCH CENTRE PREMISES TO WHICH THESE PROCEDURES APPLY

 

These procedures apply to the St James Research Centre, Thornhill Road, Falkirk.  The is a stone mass wall building comprising (a) Lecture hall (with library area); (b) Office; (c) three off student accommodation rooms; (d) kitchen facility; (e) lesser hall; (f) toilet facilities, access vestibules and one corridor at rear (linking a, c, d and e above); (g) lower-level area for electrical mains supply and storage – this has separate access; (h) upper areas of tower – not currently accessible. The upper gallery area of the main lecture area is currently not in use. 

 

This policy applies to the above, with Sections B-D applicable.

 

All persons should be aware of the basic factors to be controlled regarding fire safety. These are:

  • Controlling sources of fuel for a fire (minimising flammable materials)

  • Minimising oxygen supply, i.e. no oxidising materials on site and use of self-closing fire doors to minimise air supply to a fire location

  • Minimising opportunity for ignition (electrical, naked flame, gas service)

 

II. IDENTIFICATION OF FIRE HAZARD SOURCES, WITH CONTROL MEASURE SPECIFICATION

 

Specific identified sources of fire hazard within St. James building:

  1. Electrical faults

  2. Electrical overload

  3. Persons smoking on premises

  4. Gas appliances

  5. Flammable materials exposed to heat / ignition source

  6. Cooking equipment

 

Controls for each element are described in the sections below.

 

1. Electrical Faults

To minimise the possibility of fire from electrical faults, the following shall be observed:

  1. All portable electrical items shall be subject to PAT testing by competent persons with reports to be received. i.e. if it’s got an electrical plug on it, it needs tested. This will include PCs, monitors, kettles, extension leads, printers, vacuums, power tools, white goods etc.

  2. Any items identified as non-conformant shall be removed from service and either disposed of (permanently) or repaired before next use.

  3. Inspection of electrical equipment for damage to power cords, loose outlet plates on walls, defective wiring on plugs and damage to equipment casings, especially where this affects power supply or exposes electrical wires / components should be carried out by normal visual observation at point of use.  Where identified, do not use equipment - either remove from service immediately or, if larger item, proceed as per paragraph d below.

  4. Any member of staff identifying an unsafe piece of equipment (or if a student identifies one) then an Unsafe Condition Report shall be completed. This should be passed to either the Facility Manager or Clark Jensen to allow corrective work to be completed.  This shall include either removal of the item from point of use, or isolation of equipment and application of hazard warning sign. Either the Facility Manager or the Director shall arrange for either repair or disposal of items (some electrical items are ‘special waste’ and need disposed of accordingly e.g. monitors).

 

2. Electrical Overload

Ensure sufficient power points are available at work areas.  Power points should be installed by a competent electrician who can evaluate loads on feed cables etc.

 

Always ensure that correct rating of fuse is fitted to appliance’ plugs.  Manufacturers’ manuals should be maintained for all electrical equipment to allow correct fuse rating identification.

 

If the use of a multi-plug facility is required, ensure it has internal overload protection functionality.

Distribution boards and wiring to have quinquennial inspection by competent persons. Necessary upgrade works implemented as required i.e. included in the annual review and budgeted as required.

 

3. Persons Smoking on Premises

No smoking is allowed in any part of St. James’ premises.  There is one designated smoking point located in the courtyard. A cigarette waste facility shall be located here and should be emptied weekly. These requirements to be communicated to (a) all staff, (b) persons on site for training or research purposes, (c) all contractors and visitors to site.  This should be included on a standard induction check sheet for visitors.

 

4. Gas Appliances

Gas appliances shall be:

  1. Suitable for purpose at the point of purchase;

  2. Maintained by a registered Gas Safe engineer. Maintenance records to be held for inspection / insurance purposes.

  3. Have restricted access re controls and pipework to ensure no accidental or deliberate interference with facilities.  i.e. gas pipes to be enclosed etc.

  4. In event of a gas escape / smell of gas within the building, the gas shall be isolated (emergency control).  Relevant gas engineer shall be called to attend site and supply of gas restored only after engineer has approved that it is safe to do so.

  5. Pipes supplying gas within the premises shall be identified – colour code yellow. This shall be applied in all rooms and corridors where gas pipes are run.  Colour code identification shall be inspected at the time of audit.

 

5. Flammable Materials Exposed to Heat/Ignition Source

Definition: material that ignites easily and burns rapidly with a flame, or a material with a flash point below 50°C.

 

This may apply to substances such as paint thinners, turpentine and some cleaning materials. Materials hazard symbols relevant to this category can be identified via mandatory hazard identification labels as below:

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** This symbol is no longer legal for manufactured new product but may be seen on purchased materials if they were  manufactured previously.

 

  1. Flammable material: Any material which is has a higher probability of catching fire

  2. Oxidising material: A material that may release oxygen, thus contributing to the conditions necessary for starting or conflagrating fire

  3. Flammable material: As per number 1. above, but ‘out of date’ symbol

 

To minimise the possibility of fire from flammable materials, the following shall be observed:

  1. Avoid bringing flammable and / or oxidising onto site – make use of suitable alternative where possible.  Data should be available from both manufacturers and suppliers.  If purchasing directly locally, check hazard labels on packaging (as per hazard labels above).

  2. Where this cannot be avoided, bring the minimum amount required onto site and do not store excess materials long term.

  3. Materials carrying any of these symbols shall be stored securely i.e. away from public access and in a secure fireproof store.  Oxidising materials shall not be stored beside flammable materials.

  4. When not in use, ensure excess materials are returned to their proper storage and that this is properly sealed.

  5. Cleaning materials shall be stored in the cleaning cupboard which shall be locked except for required access.  Other flammable materials shall be stored in a fireproof store suitable for the volume of material to be stored. This shall be located in the Dungeon (ensure vents are kept clear). Both materials in the cleaning cupboard and the storage safe shall be away from ignition sources.

  6. Ensure the Facility Manager is made aware of the presence of these materials.  A register shall be maintained.

 

If in doubt, please consult the Facility Manager.

 

III. ADDITIONAL ACTIONS TO ENSURE FIRE SAFETY

 

Fire Safety Notices and Fire Action Instruction

  • General office and all residential rooms to have fire safety notice advising action to be taken in event of fire.

  • Doors used for fire exit to have approved signage.

  • All staff, students, researchers, contractors and other invited guests to be instructed on fire safety action.  This will include notification of times of fire alarm tests, escape routes, fire assembly point(s) and any other relevant actions.

 

General Office Practice

  • Turn-off electrical equipment when not in use.

  • Do not place coats or other items over portable heaters

  • Keep paper to a minimum and clear waste daily; do not store paper beside electrical equipment (or other flammable materials).

  • Do not use electrical multi-sockets.

  • Fire extinguishers – CO2 type suitable. Note: ensure staff are aware of how to use CO2 extinguishers – cold burn hazard.

  • Do not wedge open doors fitted with self-close mechanism.

 

Maintenance of Fire Safety System

  • Applies to fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and fire alarm systems.

  • A register of all fire equipment shall be maintained – located in Fire Safety folder.  This will enable verification that all items of safety equipment are included in necessary checks.

  • Any use of an extinguisher to be reported to Facility Manager (an empty extinguisher needs to be recharged / replaced!).  Ensure an Unsafe Condition Report is completed.

  • Maintenance by competent person – reports to be received. Most recent reports to be held in Fire Safety folder.

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Note: Water extinguishers not to be used on electrical equipment. Fire escape route signs to be fitted to all relevant doors and maintained.  

 

Weekly Test of Fire Alarm System

Register of fire alarm points to be maintained.  Fire alarm system to be tested via a different alarm point each week. Record of results to be maintained and held in Fire Safety folder. All fire exits should be checked to ensure they give free egress – i.e. fire doors open freely with no obstructions either side. This shall include free passage on disabled’ ramp.

 

Audit/Review

Safety arrangements in Section I must be subject to audit and review.  This shall be done annually unless (a) an incident occurs that necessitates additional review; (b) changes are envisaged that may affect the adequacy of current controls prior to the next scheduled review.  This may be alterations to rooms, number of people on-site, change of use of rooms, flammable materials on site, problems from external bodies (e.g. arson threats etc).

 

Any review undertaken should consider applicable legislative changes, take account of any Unsafe Condition Reports (re fire incidents), address deficiencies highlighted at time of audit and accommodate planned changes in service provision. Details of legislative changes should be available online from Scottish Government’ website.

 

Housekeeping

Good housekeeping is an essential part of fire safety – it removes source of fuel for a fire and ensures free egress in the event of a fire.

  

Register of Persons on Site: Staff & Visitors

All persons entering and leaving St. James’ centre shall record their presence in/out on relevant log sheet. These to be held in admin office and must be lifted on event of fire alarm to ensure that all persons can be accounted for. Designated office person to act as ‘fire marshal’ in this regard.

 

IV. PAT TESTING

 

Service providers with the right knowledge and experience have the necessary competence to test portable electronic appliances – putting them through relevant tests, using the right PAT testers, interpreting results and certifying them for safe use.

 

Established PAT testers are aware that select class or type of equipment are bound to fail certain PAT tests and need to be tested using suitable alternative tests to certify them.

 

For instance, appliances with built-in devices that limit voltage such as EMI suppressors or surge protectors most likely will fail the Insulation Resistance Test (IRT). While a nominal voltage 500V/250V DC may still be considered for IRT, internal relay systems and electromagnetic switches may not respond to the test – especially those in personal computers, contemporary power tools and even television sets. These appliances must instead be put through a Leakage Current Test to clear them for safe use.

 

Another problem is that of portable appliances with long extension cords failing the Earth Continuity Pass test. Using the right PAT tester for the appliance can remedy this issue; however, the discretion and competence of the person carrying out the test do make a significant difference in such cases.

 

It is also worth noting that the sequence in which tests are carried out also determine the effectiveness of the testing process.