Fire Safety Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Find answers to the most common questions about Fire Safety. Look through the topics below and select the question to reveal the answer.
Roles and Responsibilities
The FSU is responsible for ensuring the University Court meets it statutory obligations in regard to s53 & s54 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. This requires the FSU to ensure fire risk assessments are completed for every building that University staff are employed in, ensuring staff are provided with fire safety training including specific training for specific functions, supporting and advising those with safety responsibilities in all fire safety matters, organising and supporting schools to complete annual fire drills. The FSU also manage, maintain and provide all portable fire extinguishers for the University, as well as providing fire extinguisher training and first responders training for evacuation chairs.
The Fire Coordinator’s role is voluntary. One member of staff will perform this role for a building, however consideration should be given to appointing a deputy to cover any leave of absence. Buildings may have a number of Fire Co-ordinators due to the building size and/or complexity.
The role includes responsibility for:
- Attending Fire Co-ordinator training as appropriate
- Investigate any fire safety concerns brought to them by colleagues or others and, where necessary, implement the appropriate means to negate the risk. Where the Fire Co-ordinator cannot resolve the concern they must bring the matter to the attention of the Fire Safety Unit as soon as is reasonably practicable
- Ensure annual fire drills are arranged and co-ordinated with the Fire Safety Unit
- In the event of an alarm, interpret the information of the fire panel and relay relevant information to University Security and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
- Confirm if the alert is a fire or suspected false alarm
- Register Fire Stewards as they report
- Gather relevant information
- Liaise with operator of the communication panel for disabled members of the University community
- Update Security as necessary
- Liaise with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service on their arrival
The Fire Steward's role is voluntary. At least one person should be appointed for each area within a building/department. Specific numbers required will depend upon the building and school staff numbers, the more complex the building the more likely it will be for additional stewards to be appointed. The responsibilities of the fire steward include:
- Attend Fire Steward training as appropriate
- Undertake and record the weekly Fire Alarm Test
- Assist Fire Co-ordinator in completing the annual fire drill
- Undertake a weekly check of all fire equipment in your area. A checklist has been produced to aid in this task, but you may need to modify it for your own area
- Ensure that all staff in your area are familiar with the general evacuation procedure for your building/area
MOBUG is an acronym for “Multi Occupancy Building User Group”. These should be set up in buildings that are occupied by different Schools/Colleges and/or management units and are required to oversee fire safety (Primary role), security and any other building issues. The appointed Chairperson should be (where possible) from the largest occupier of that building. The MOBUG should also be introduced in buildings with part University and part external occupants.
The MOBUG meeting should be attended by 1 representative of each occupant School/College/other group who has an appropriate level of responsibility within their remit.
A personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) is required for any colleague or student who requires assistance to evacuate a building during an emergency. The PEEP will identify a safe process and procedure to help facilitate the assistance required for each building visited.
Line Managers (for Staff) and the Student Disability Service (for Students). It is extremely important for Line Managers and Student Disability Service to fully discuss this with the person to ensure that they agree with all information related to their personal situation and limitations. The individual requiring the PEEP must be involved at all stages of the process. Individuals requiring PEEPS should not complete the required documentation as this is the responsibility of the line Manager/Student Disability Service.
This should be sent to the PEEPs Mailbox - PERSONAL EMERGENCY Evacuation Plan.
The PEEP is required for both permanent and temporary conditions and injuries that have an impact on mobility and ability to safely evacuate the premises without any special assistance measures. Review should be undertaken by the Line Manager/Student Disability Service as required and particularly in the following circumstances:
- Change of work location (staff)
- Change of teaching/study/accommodation location (students)
- Change of PEEP status i.e. improvement or worsening of personal condition having any impact on the current special evacuation arrangements in place
Contact the PEEPs Mailbox and provide details of changes. It will then be determined if an amended PEEP is necessary.
Fire Risk Assessment
A fire risk assessment is a process involving the subjective evaluation of the factors that determine the hazard from fire, the likelihood that there will be a fire and the consequences if one were to occur. There are both qualitative and quantitative methods of risk assessment that can be used but in each case will be influenced by material observations relevant to the built environment, level of fire safety provision and the level of management observed.
The University Fire Safety Unit is responsible for carrying out routine, pre-planned fire risk assessments.
Initially, the frequency is set as an outcome of the fire risk assessment and generally at 2, 3 or 4 year intervals and dependant upon the risk category. These assessments may be brought forward as deemed required e.g after a fire/incident, changes to building construction (internally/externally), change of use, change of occupancy type.
The fire risk assessment process is a dynamic process which needs to be able to take account of changing circumstances which could affect the risk to life and property. A specific fire risk assessment would be undertaken by a member of the Fire Safety Unit in response to information received about a change of conditions within a building (a relevant premises). Such changes may increase the fire risk within the building and need to be assessed.
Example of this would be:
- Alterations to the internal layout which effects the fire escape routes
- The introduction of new hot work processes or processes which requires the use and storage of flammable substances
- Introduction of a crèche facility
- The introduction of temporary structures in close proximity to the building
Any additional risk will be taken account of in this specific risk assessment and suitable additional control measures established to keep the fire risk as low as possible.
An Event Fire Risk Assessment is required to be completed where an event is planned within a University building and results in some material changes that could impact on the Fire Risk Assessment for the premises. Where an event is planned, notification is required to be given to the Fire Safety Unit at least 28 days prior to the event to ensure a review can be undertaken. The responsibility for complying with the fire safety duties in premises sits with the employer and other persons who operate or have control of the premises to any extent. Essentially this would normally be the event organiser. Further advice and guidance on the responsibilities for the management of the event is available from the Fire Safety Unit.
Examples (Not exhaustive) :
- Where a building (or part of a building) is being used out with its normal use as an event then an event fire risk assessment is required
- Specific entertainment event in marquee or existing building
A Fire Risk Assessment is a legal requirement. All University buildings require to have a FRA and each one is required to be reviewed if there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates including:
- When the buildings, special, technical and organisational measures or organisation of the work undergo significant changes
- Following a fire
- After 2, 3 or 4 years dependent on risk category
Heads of School/College, Support areas have been identified as Duty Holders under the devolved management structure and this person is therefore responsible for ensuring the maintenance of all fire safety measures within a particular building that they are responsible for.
The Duty Holder is the term used within the Fire (Scotland) Act to designate who is responsible for all fire safety measures within a particular building or organisation. The Fire Risk Assessment will always note who the designated person is for the building or premises the assessment refers. It should be noted that although this person may have ultimate responsibility for the risk assessment and actions as well as the general fire safety within a building. This task may be delegated to others for day to day management e.g. Health and Safety Advisers/Managers.
This is the section of the fire risk assessment that denotes what improvements or actions are required to improve the risk from fire within a building. These actions are rated from Trivial to Intolerable and have indicative timescales for improvement to be made as well as a note of who is expected to carry out these actions.
The timescales for items other than intolerable can be open to negotiation with the fire safety assessor. E.g. if for example a particular action requires funding or project planning.
The advised timescales are indicative but where these significantly overrun then contact the Fire Safety Unit to discuss.
Yes and the fire risk assessment updated accordingly. The Fire Risk Assessor refers to this is in subsequent assessments to ascertain if required improvement work has been completed. It is the responsibility of the Duty Holder (or nominated person) to ensure that the FRA Action Plan is completed.
Fire Exits and Escape Routes
Fire exits within occupied buildings should never be blocked for any reason. Where exits and exit routes are compromised they require to be cleared immediately. If the matter cannot be resolved immediately, report the matter to your line manager, building fire coordinator or school safety adviser.
If the matter is still not resolved the matter should be reported to the Fire Safety Unit.
It is not advisable to store any items within corridors as these form the main escape routes for anyone within a building. However, depending on circumstances small or temporary items may be permissible. Contact with the Fire Safety Unit in the first instance for advice is recommended.
Fire Warning System
The purpose of the fire panel is to monitor and control the fire warning system. An illuminated warning light indicates part or all of the system is not functioning within normal working parameters. The fire warning system must be fully functional at all times for the safety of the building occupiers. Immediately report the fault to the building Fire Co-ordinator or a line manager. The issue must thereafter be promptly reported to the Estates Help Desk who will contact the fire alarm service engineers to arrange repairs to the fire alarm system. If the matter is still not resolved then it should be reported to the Fire Safety Unit.
Fire alarm call points are an integral part of the fire warning system and must remain in working order at all times to ensure the safety of the building occupants. Immediately report the fault to the building Fire Co-ordinator or a line manager. The fault must thereafter be promptly reported to the Estates Help Desk who will contact the fire alarm service engineers to arrange for the required repair. If the matter is still not resolved then it should be reported to the Fire Safety Unit.
Fire Safety Training
Yes. The fire safety awareness course is required to be completed by all staff and refreshed every 3 years (min). The basic fire safety awareness course is available online via the Cardinus system.
Every 3 years (min).
This is a local management requirement and responsibility lies with the School/College/Support area to ensure all staff complete this. Additionally, staff should self-manage to ensure that they complete the required course within the required timescales.
This is a local management requirement and responsibility lies with the School/College/Support area to ensure that they have the correct numbers within their particular building.
You must attend the required Fire Steward course before taking up position as a Fire Steward within your building. The same applies for the Fire Co-ordinator role. Additionally, you are required to attend a refresher course every 3 years (min).
In the first instance to sign up for a Fire Steward/Coordinator course please follow the link within the “MyEd” Events channel.
If your premises have at least 12-15 people requiring Fire Steward and Coordinator training then we may be able to run a bespoke course at your venue, please contact the Fire Safety Unit directly for further advice.
No. This is a voluntary role.
Fire extinguisher training is generally incorporated into the Fire Steward training courses delivered by the Fire Safety Unit and consists of a practical “hands on” session at a location near to the Fire Steward training course venue. Training course places are bookable through the “MyEd” Events channel. Any fire extinguisher course is delivered to groups and not on a one to one basis. Contact the Fire Safety Unit to discuss if your School/College requires particular training out with the posted dates.
This responsibility lies with building management to ensure that this is maintained. Nominated and trained Fire Stewards are also responsible for ensuring a visual check is conducted on a weekly basis.
As fire extinguishers form part of the fire safety provision within buildings the extinguisher must be replaced as soon as possible. Immediately report the fault to the building Fire Co-ordinator or a line manager. The issue must thereafter be reported promptly to the Estates Helpdesk with the following information and a replacement extinguisher will be provided:
- The name/location of the building
- The department/floor/room where the extinguisher was located
- The type of fire extinguisher needing replaced (information on body) e.g. water type
- The location of the empty extinguisher *
- If known the type of fire the extinguisher was used on
*Please note that fire extinguishers that have been partially or fully discharged should not be relocated in their original location. Remove the extinguisher to a secure storage area and label “Empty Do Not Use”. The extinguisher will be uplifted by the Fire Safety Unit.
As fire extinguishers form part of the fire safety provision within buildings the extinguisher must be replaced as soon as possible. Immediately report the fault to the building Fire Co-ordinator or a line manager. The issue must thereafter be promptly reported to the Estates Helpdesk with the following information and a replacement extinguisher will be provided:
- The name/location of the building
- The department/floor/room where the extinguisher was located
- The type of fire extinguisher needing replaced (information on extinguisher body) e.g. water type
A Fire Action Plan is intended to give clear direction to all occupiers on the emergency procedures and other matters which are necessary to support fire safety and emergency evacuation within University buildings. It is a detailed plan of how fire safety is managed within the building you occupy. Every premises within the University should have a fire action plan specific to their building. In multi-occupied buildings there is a need for co-ordination between occupiers in the management of fire safety. It is the responsibility of the Duty Holder / Fire Coordinator to ensure a plan is produced and the fire safety unit can assist with advice and guidance on the production of the plan.
Yes. Generally, every building is required to carry out a no notice evacuation drill on an annual basis with the results recorded and reported to the Fire Safety Unit. Student accommodation is subject to more frequent no notice drills in line with student semesters.
To test the arrangements in place and understanding of staff in dealing with a fire emergency as set out within the Fire Action Plan. Additionally, it should evaluate its effectiveness and identify any areas for improvement. Additionally, the evacuation drill should include various scenarios to test reactions of occupants.
During fire drills, scenarios should be introduced to reflect what could occur in a fire and problems that staff may be faced with, Examples of scenarios are (not exhaustive):
- Standard fire routine and evacuation procedure
- As above with an escape route unusable due to fire
- A member of staff in a wheelchair has communicated they are waiting at a Temporary Waiting Space (TWS)
- A person with mobility issues require assistance and the deployment of an emergency evacuation chair
- A Fire Steward reports to the Fire Co-ordinator that a person is missing from their area of responsibility
- Fire alarm activates in veterinary establishment while animals are under anaesthesia (simulation only)
- Include emergency close down procedure check in laboratory /kitchen
- Include deployment of trained Fire Steward(s) to extinguish simulated fire e.g. electrical type
It is recommended that any delays to fire drills are kept to a minimum. Fire drills that are delayed or cancelled must be rescheduled as soon as possible. Managers must ensure that all staff have completed the online mandatory fire safety training. Where significant delays are unavoidable please contact the Fire Safety Unit to discuss.
The minimum frequency for an evacuation drill is once a year, but 6-monthly may be more appropriate for many premises. In education establishments there is a need for familiarity and discipline and fire drills should take place preferably once a term.
No. Even although you may have coincidentally had a fire alarm actuation near the time/date of planned evacuation drill, an evacuation drill is still required. In these circumstances, it may be permissible to delay the evacuation drill. This should be discussed with the Fire Safety Unit.
Yes. Fire Stewards are responsible for carrying out a visual check on all fire safety measures as noted within the Weekly Fire Safety Checklist.
A Fire Assembly Point is the designated area outside the building to gather following a fire evacuation. The location of these areas differ from building to building. The location specific to the premises you are working in will be noted on the blue Fire Action Notices which are located throughout the premises and are usually found adjacent to all red fire alarm manual call points.
Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS)
False alarms must be avoided as they reduce people’s confidence in the fire alarm system and can induce complacency and delay in evacuating the building in the event of a real fire. False alarms impact on the Fire and Rescue Service and can cause delays to actual fires or other emergencies. This issue can be avoided in several ways including protective shielding, relocation of equipment or replacement with alternative devices.
Immediately report the issue to the building Fire Co-ordinator or line manager. The issue must thereafter be promptly reported to the Estates Helpdesk who will contact the fire alarm service engineers to arrange a survey and provide alternative compliant solutions to resolve the issue. If the matter is still not resolved the matter should be reported to the Fire Safety Unit.
In the first instance if you have any concerns regarding the impact of works within your building is to liaise with the Estates project manager dealing with the works. If the project is for a significant period regular liaison with the site agent is advisable to ensure no conflict exists.
Any major concerns can be addressed by contacting the Fire Safety Unit direct.