The Effectiveness of Fire Safety Training for Employees in Commercial Premises

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By Mark Brown

ABSTRACT

The problem was that the New South Wales Fire Brigades (NSWFB) was unable to describe the outcomes of the fire safety training it delivered to employees in commercial premises. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the fire safety training delivered to employees in commercial premises in New South Wales (NSW), Australia by the NSWFB's Commercial Safety Training Services (ComSafe) Section resulted in employees taking effective action in the event of a fire in their workplace. This was an evaluative research project and the research questions were:

  1. What do descriptive statistics derived from incident data collected by the NSWFB show in relation to fires in commercial premises in NSW?
  2. Which fire safety training courses currently provided by the ComSafe Section to employees in commercial premises in NSW are the most appropriate to evaluate?
  3. What do representatives of selected ComSafe customers report in relation to their satisfaction with the fire safety training provided to their employees?
  4. What do representatives of selected ComSafe customers report in relation to their employees putting into practice what they had learned during fire safety training?

The procedures involved the statistical analysis of incident data collected by the NSWFB, as well as a survey instrument completed by representatives of commercial premises, whose employees had received selected fire safety training from the ComSafe Section.

The results showed that respondents reported a high level of confidence regarding their employees being able to take effective action in the event of a fire. This was supported by the evidence of a number of fires occurring in workplaces that were successfully extinguished and staff who were safely evacuated.

The major recommendation of this study was for the ComSafe Section to review its course material to ensure that it addresses the specific needs of high-risk occupancies. It was also recommended that statistics in relation to fires in commercial premises be made available to fire department officers to assist the development of effective strategies to address this problem within their jurisdictions.