Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Fire Safety Procedures, Arrangements and Responsibilities

Introduction

This guidance note details the University of Sussex' arrangements for securing fire safety in the event of an emergency. It also details management, function and individual responsibilities. If you have any queries about the contents of this guidance note, or if you require further advice, please contact the Health and Safety office.

1. Raising the Alarm:

All University buildings are fitted with Automatic Fire Detection (AFD) and manual call points. On activation of any of these devices (either by the detection of smoke, heat or by someone operating the manual call point) local sounders (bells or sirens depending on the building in question) will operate throughout the building. All fire alarm panels are also linked to the University's computer network; activation of any of local systems will raise an alarm at the central security office.

2. In-Hours Emergency Arrangements

2.1 General Response

a. Action on hearing the alarm:

If the event of a fire alarm occupants should:

  • Leave the building by the nearest available fire exit. Lifts are not to be used;
  • Whilst exiting the building people should close any doors or windows behind them
  • No effort should be made to collect personal belongings; it would be wise to put your coat on (if it is close to hand)
  • Go to the building's "Assembly Point" and await further instructions
  • Not re-enter buildings until given the all clear by a representative of any of the following: Fire Brigade, Rescue Team, Security, Fire Marshals.

A full list of Assembly Points and Control Points

b. Disabled and Mobility-Impaired Persons:

Wherever possible, disabled persons should evacuate the building in exactly the same way as every other person. However, this will not be possible in all cases; the needs of disabled and mobility persons are likely to vary on a case by case basis. Because of this, the University have developed procedures for ensuring that the needs of disabled and mobility impaired persons are considered on an individual basis. These individual arrangements are called Personal Emergency Escape Plans or PEEP.

It is the responsibility of each School, Unit or Division to make sure that any staff, students or visitors under their control who may require assistance or special arrangements to evacuate a building in an emergency have received a PEEP and that any findings of that PEEP are implemented. People requiring a PEEP may include, people with certain disabilities, heavily pregnant women, the elderly or the very young. PEEPs should only be carried out by staff who have attended the University's training course.

To book on a PEEP course

c. Action on discovering a fire

In the event of discovering a fire occupants should:

  • Operate the nearest manual call point
  • Attempt to tackle the fire provided:
    - It is safe to do so; and you have received training in the safe use of fire extinguishers. Persons who have not received such training are NOT to use extinguishers.
  • Exit the building (even if you have successfully managed to extinguish the fire) closing doors behind you and report to the building's Control Point;
  • On arrival at the Control Point you should liaise with Security to advise them of the incident (location and nature of the fire). If a member of either Security or Rescue Team or a Fire Marshal is not present, then a call should be made to security to ensure that they are aware of the fire alarm. Calls should be made on the University's emergency number (3333 or 01273 87333);
  • Remain at control point in case further information required by the Fire Brigade.

d. False alarms

If members of the campus community believe that they know the cause of an unintentional actuation of the fire alarm they should:

  • Phone security immediately using the emergency number (3333 or 01273 873333)
  • Evacuate the building in the usual way;
  • Report to the control point so that they can liaise with security.

Under NO circumstances should any attempt be made to:

  • Stop the evacuation process;
  • Silence the alarms.

2.2 Fire Warden Duties

Fire wardens are appointed by Deans, Directors and Heads of Unit. There should be sufficient numbers of fire wardens to cover all areas occupied by Schools, Units and Divisions. On hearing the alarm, Fire Wardens should:

  • Encourage others to evacuate the building. NB - if people refuse to evacuate Fire Wardens should not enter into arguments. Instead, they should make a note of the numbers of people refusing to evacuate and their location;
  • Check all areas within their remit to ensure that people have evacuated. Fire wardens should not put themselves at personal risk when fulfilling their duties. If they can see fire or smoke or there is a strong smell of smoke then Wardens should evacuate the building by the nearest exit. Rooms which are issuing smoke should not be entered under any circumstances.
  • Once all areas have been checked, Wardens should evacuate the building by the nearest exit and report to the Control Point;
  • Once at the Control Point, Fire Wardens should report relevant details to the fire marshals regarding completeness of evacuations and any information regarding the cause of the alarm.
  • If a member of either Security or Rescue Team or a Fire marshal is not present, then a call should be made to security to ensure that they are aware of the fire alarm. Calls should be made on the University's emergency number (3333 or 01273 873333).

2.3 Security actions on receiving an alarm call

Security have a key role in co-ordinating and communicating the emergency response to all fire alarm actuations. When an emergency call is received at the Security Lodge, Security will:

  • Activate emergency pagers (these summon Fire Marshals and warn hearing-impaired persons of a possible fire alarm actuation in their building);
  • Call the fire brigade;
  • Call mobile Security Officers and the Rescue Team to advise them of the location of the fire alarm;
  • Record all management actions within their log, including, where possible, the cause of the alarm actuation and the times that the fire brigade arrived on and left site.

On receipt of an emergency call, mobile security officers will:

  • Attend the building in question to investigate the causes of the alarm;
  • Despatch one of their team to a designated area to meet the fire brigade and escort them to the building in question;
  • Liaise with the fire marshals, wardens and any other persons who may have information on the cause of the alarm;
  • Liaise with the fire brigade and advise them (where possible) of the location of the alarm, the cause of the alarm and any other relevant information that may have been provided by marshals, wardens and the rescue team;
  • Advise occupants when it is safe to return in to the building.

2.4 Fire Marshals

Where buildings have resident Estates and Facilities Management (EFM) Premises Assistant (PA) teams, then those teams (unless alternative arrangements are agreed with EFM) will take the lead role in recording information provided by fire wardens in the event of an evacuation. Fire marshal duties can be summarised as follows:

  • PA's will carry an emergency pager at all times when they are on duty;
  • In the event of an evacuation, security will activate the emergency pagers;
  • Where the evacuation is in a building covered by their team, PA's will proceed to the Control Point of the building in question;
  • Once at the building, PA's will put on their high-visibility tabards (with the legend "Fire" on the back) so that they can be readily recognised by Security, Rescue Team and Fire Wardens.
  • The first member of the PA team to arrive at the control point will assume the role of main fire marshal; they will collect the list of fire wardens and record any information given to them by the fire wardens. If Fire Wardens identify any issues (such as people missing, still in the building or refusing to evacuate) then the Fire Marshal will bring this to the attention of a member of either Security or the Rescue Team;
  • Other members of the PA team will position themselves at fire exits around the building to make sure that no-one re-enters the building until the official "all clear" has been given.

Where buildings are not routinely covered by PA teams, occupiers of those buildings will need to make their own arrangements to ensure that someone is tasked to:

  • record information given by Fire Wardens;
  • liaise with Security and the Rescue Team.

2.5 Rescue Team:

The Rescue Team is made up of a group of volunteers from different University Schools and Units. The Rescue Team will respond to all non-residential fire alarms in "normal" working hours. In the event of a fire alarm:

  • Security will radio the Rescue team to advise them of the location of the fire alarm and to request their attendance;
  • Available members of the team will make their way to the building. If, on arrival, no PA's or other appointed staff are present, they will take on the role of Fire Marshal recording information given by Fire Wardens;
  • If required, Rescue Team will help extract people from designated areas (called refuges) in the building;
  • If no-one requires assistance to evacuate the building then the Rescue Team will help other colleagues to staff fire exits and prevent people from re-entering the building before authorisation is given to re-occupy.

The rescue team cannot be guaranteed to be fully staffed at all times; this should be factored in to PEEP's assessments. Rescue Team will only undertake rescue duties if this does not pose an unreasonable risk to them or to the people they are attempting to evacuate from the building. Members of the Rescue Team will wear high-visibility tabards with the legend "Rescue" on the back.

3. Out of Hours Emergency Response:

Outside of normal hours, it is unlikely that Fire Wardens, Rescue Team and Fire Marshals will be on duty. At these times, Security will provide the entire emergency response. At these times the following should be noted:

3.1 General Arrangements

a. Actions on hearing the alarm:

If the event of a fire alarm occupants should:

  • Leave the building by the nearest available fire exit. Lifts are not to be used;
  • Whilst exiting the building people should close any doors or windows behind them
  • No effort should be made to collect personal belongings; it would be wise to put your coat on (if it is close to hand)
  • If you are teaching or overseeing student pr other activities you should report to the building's control point to advise security that you have evacuated the building.
  • If, when evacuating, you become aware that people are unable to evacuate or are failing to evacuate you should make a note of their locations. Again, you should report to the Control Point to advise security;
  • If Security are not present, then a call should be made to Security to ensure that they are aware of the fire alarm. Calls should be made on the University's emergency number (3333 or 01273 873333).
  • All other persons should go to the building's "Assembly Point" and await further instructions.

b. Actions on discovering a fire:

In the event of discovering a fire occupants should:

  • Operate the nearest manual call point
  • Attempt to tackle the fire provided:
    - It is safe to dos so; and

- You have received training in the safe use of fire extinguishers. Persons who have not received such training are

NOT to use extinguishers.

  • Exit the building (even if you have successfully managed to extinguish the fire) closing doors behind you and report to the building's Control Point;
  • On arrival at the Control Point you should liaise with Security to advise them of the incident (location and nature of the fire);
  • If Security are not present, then a call should be made to Security to ensure that they are aware of the fire alarm. Calls should be made on the University's emergency number (3333 or 01273 873333).

c. Disabled & Mobility-Impaired Persons:

Out of hours, disabled and mobility-impaired persons should only access areas of buildings from which they can evacuate, outside of the building, unaided. The ability to evacuate will depend upon the personal circumstances of the individual being assessed. Areas which require access out of hours should be included in the PEEP (see above) carried out by Schools, Units and Divisions. The use of lifts is not permitted unless specifically identified in the PEEP. Currently, only the Library has a lift that can be used as a means of evacuation. Later this year, Bramber House lifts will also be able to be used.

d. Security:

Security have a key role in co-ordinating and communicating the emergency response to all fire alarm actuations. When an emergency call is received at the security lodge, Security will:

  • Activate emergency pagers (to provide a warning for any hearing-impaired persons of a possible fire alarm actuation in their building);
  • Call the fire brigade;
  • Call mobile security officers to advise them of the location of the fire alarm;
  • Record all management actions within their log, including, where possible, the cause of the alarm actuation and the times that the fire brigade arrived on and left site.

On receipt of an emergency call, mobile security officers will:

  • Attend the building in question to investigate the causes of the alarm;
  • Despatch one of their team to a designated area to meet the fire brigade and escort them to the building in question;
  • Liaise with any persons who may have information on the cause of the alarm;
  • Liaise with the fire brigade and advise them (where possible) of the location of the alarm, the cause of the alarm and any other relevant information that they have been able to establish;
  • Advise any occupants when it is safe to return in to the building.