On 27th May 2014 I attended the Fire Risk Assessment training course organised by Oxford City Council, in association with the Fire Protection Association. This is a short review of that course.

This course was a 3 day course. There were lectures on the first 2 days and a house inspection and assessment on the final day.

Course Content

The course covered the following topics:

  • Fire development
  • Passive fire safety measures
  • Active fire safety measures
  • Legislative requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • Principles of fire risk assessments

This content was applied to fire safety in residential accommodation and a variety of other setting (e.g. offices, hotels etc). While fire safety in offices, hotels and leisure complexes are not directly relevant to HIMOs, these examples were used to illustrate how people behave in fires. Personally, I did not mind because this allowed me to appreciate how fire safety is applied differently based on the how a premise is used.

Course Delivery

The course content was delivered using a variety of media, such as:

  • Power point
  • Videos
  • Discussions
  • Group activities

I found this to be an effective way to deliver the course and the variety kept things interesting. The trainer was knowledgeable enough to comfortably withstand the wide variety of questions enforcement officers typically ask.

Best Bits

I found the topics about human behaviour and fire development particularly useful. Considering human behaviour, I assumed that people would panic in fires. In reality, it appears that people tend not to react quickly enough.

The fire development topic was very enlightenment. Like most people, I have very little direct involvement with actual fires. I occasionally light the barbeque when the weather is good enough and more frequently light the wood burner when it cold. These interactions with fire are nothing like what happens in an uncontrolled fire. This was best illustrated when the trainer showed the video about the Station Night Club fire on 20th February 2003. The short video was harrowing to watch in places, but I believe it is a must watch for those involved in fire safety standards. I have embedded the video below.

Some Could Criticise

During the course the trainer used a few examples that it could be argued were irrelevant to those who enforce standards in HIMOs (e.g. fire safety measures in commercial premises). Some may see this negatively, but personally, I didn’t mind because it was interesting to see how fire safety measures differ in premises that do not have sleeping accommodation.

The Verdict

I enjoyed the course and would recommend it for those who deal with HIMOs. If like me you have a lot of HIMO experience, it’s a great refresher. The course would be just as good for those with little or no HIMO experience because it should give you the appropriate knowledge of the risks you are attempting to reduce/ minimise. Personally, the course left me with some knowledge that will stay at the back of my mind when I’m inspecting HIMOs.

For those who operate in the private sector, the course has the added benefit of allowing you to join the Institute of Fire Engineers as a Fire Risk Assessor. You could then offer fire risk assessments as a service to client. As I am still awaiting my results, I am unable to say what is involved in this process.