Smoke without fire
South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is improving patient and staff safety by providing a new style of fire training complete with artificial smoke.
The NHS Trust, which provides mental health, learning disability and community services, has premises across Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees andWakefield. Many of these buildings are used for patient care and, in the event of a fire, staff may be called upon to evacuate patient areas safely and quickly.
In order to more thoroughly prepare staff for a potential fire, a special training unit has been created which realistically replicates patient and staff areas and contains the kind of obstacles staff may encounter in an emergency situation.
Ian Cass is the Trust’s fire safety adviser. He furnished the ‘room’ with a bed, cabinet, television and even a dummy patient. The room can then be filled with realistic special effects ‘smoke’, before staff enter to try to navigate their way around, and out of, the room. Ian said, “The ‘smoke’ we use is completely harmless, but does highlight the very limited visibility a person has in a smoke-filled room. It also behaves in the same way as real smoke, so staff can see how smoke coming from beneath a fire door might look. We then discuss the best course of action.”
The fire training unit can be altered to simulate either an office or ward setting, depending on the staff being trained.
Ian continues, “More than a hundred staff have now received the new training. Whilst they receive the same messages as I would give in a traditional fire lecture, the setting and practical application helps to reinforce the importance of those messages. It’s easy to sit and listen to a person talking, without ever thinking there could be a real emergency situation. The new unit dramatically and safely highlights the potential dangers, promoting fire prevention at work and in the home more effectively than we have ever been able to before.”