Fire training for Volunteers

Please read the training material below and then go back to the previous page.

Learning Objectives

  • Define the characteristics of fire, smoke and toxic fumes
  • Identify the main fire hazards in your volunteering environment
  • Describe the actions required when discovering a fire in your volunteering environment, including how to raise alarm, what action to take when an alarm is raised, evacuation procedures and associated escape routes
  • Describe basic fire safety and fire safety protocols
  • Explain how to practise and promote fire prevention

The Elements of Fire

  • Is a chemical reaction producing smoke, heat and flames
  • Produces dangerous, toxic gases
  • May cause disorientation
  • May damage property
  • May cause injury or death

On the right you will see what is described as the ‘Triangle of Combustion‘. This means that a fire needs three elements:

  1. Oxygen
  2. Heat
  3. Fuel

Take one of these elements away and the fire will be extinguished.          

One of the biggest cause of fires in organisations is electricity. Therefore, you must:

  • Turn off equipment when not in use
  • Report faulty equipment to a member of staff
  • Avoid using extension cables
  • Ensure electric cables are not trapped or pinched
  • Ensure vents on electric equipment are not obstructed

Risk Assessment

Fire regulations say that all organisations should:

  • Carry out regular and timely fire risk assessments
  • Ensure that their staff and volunteers know where the fire exits are and that they are familiar with the evacuation protocol
  • Ensure that their staff and volunteers familiarise themselves with the organisation’s fire safety policy and fire risk assessment

As part of your induction, you will be informed by your volunteer coordinator of any particular risks in the area where you are volunteering which could include:

  • What fire hazards have been identified and what are the preventive measures?
  • What actions have been taken to remove or reduce the chance of fire occurring?
  • Who is at risk? Consider the most vulnerable people
  • What should people do in the case of a fire?
  • What is the emergency plan for your location?

Reducing the Risk of Fire

  • Fire Doors – Keep fire doors closed; they must not be wedged open.
  • Fire Alarms – Fire alarms alert people when smoke or heat is detected.
  • Fire Signage – Fire signs are designed and used to meet fire safety needs and help ensure you comply with current legislation. Legislation states that “all premises should clearly mark emergency exits and escape routes.”
  • Emergency Escape Lighting – Emergency escape lighting is part of an emergency lighting system that provides illumination for the safety of people leaving a location.
  • Fire Fighting Equipment – Fire fighting equipment is available to use at the scene of a fire. There are a number of different kinds of extinguisher available depending on the location.

As a volunteer it is not your role to use fire extinguishers. Most organisations will have designated Fire Marshalls who will be trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers. Make sure you know who your Fire Marshall is.

  • Emergency Evacuation Plan – You will be given information about local fire evacuation procedures on your induction. Each organisation will have a specific evacuation plan.

In the Event of a Fire

Whilst volunteering, what should you do if you smell smoke, see flames or hear a fire alarm?

Each organisation’s procedure will vary slightly but you should follow the general guidelines below.

If you smell smoke

  • If you see a fire, smell smoke or suspect a fire – raise the alarm
  • Do not tackle the fire
  • Close doors and windows if it’s safe to do so
  • Follow local evacuation procedures. Trained staff will deal with any vulnerable people

If you hear a fire alarm

  • Exit the building as quickly as possible
  • Do not stop to collect personal belongings
  • Do not use standard lifts
  • Meet well away from the building at an agreed assembly point
  • Do not return to the building until told it is safe to do so
  • Follow any instructions from fire marshals/wardensand the emergency services

As a volunteer, what are your responsibilities in relation to fire safety?

Your responsibilities

As a volunteer you should:

  • Understand and comply with your organisation’s fire safety policy
  • Comply with the no smoking policy, ensure cigarette ends are put out properly and disposed of safely
  • Keep fire doors closed to stop the spread of fire, heat or smoke
  • Know what to do if you discover a fire or hear a fire alarm
  • Know what phone number to call in the case of a fire
  • Be familiar with your building’s evacuation routes
  • Know where the fire extinguishers are in case you need to direct members of the fire brigade
  • Report any ideas for reducing the risk of fire in your area

Session Summary

Key Points

  • A fire needs three elements to stay alight: oxygen, heat and fuel
  • The most common cause of fire in organisations is electricity
  • Regular and timely fire risk assessments should be carried out by trained staff
  • All staff and volunteers should be acquainted with the location of fire exits and the evacuation protocol for their working area
  • All staff and volunteers should familiarise themselves with the organisation’s procedure in the event of a fire
  • Protective measures should be taken to reduce the risk of fire, such as keeping fire doors closed and reducing fire hazards



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