Our guide to fire safety
Jane McGuire

Our guide to fire safety

First published date June 16 2015 Amended date June 22 2015

Sure, you know not to put out a chip pan fire, or not to leave candles burning in your living room at night, but how much fire safety do you actually know? Whether you are being sent on a course for work, or just learning how to stay safe at home, a fire safety course will give you a set of skills that might just save your life.



A fire safety course is not all about what to do in the event of a fire, but just at much about how to prevent one from happening. Every course will teach you how to install, test and maintain fire alarms. According to government guidelines, a standard home issue smoke alarm should be fitted on every level of the house; the batteries should be checked weekly and changed yearly. If you are likely to forget to check every week, long life batteries or installing a ten year smoke alarm are good ideas. In larger buildings or offices, fire alarms are usually connected to the mains and will generally need to be installed by a qualified electrician. These alarms should also be tested on a regular basis, so if you are the office fire safety officer and you’ve never heard the alarm – check it out!

The prevention part of any course will also cover key elements of safety in the home, such as safe cooking procedures and the dangers of overloading plug sockets. Did you know half of all home fires start in the kitchen? Remember to clear up any oil spillages, never leave children in the kitchen unattended and keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker or hob. In the event of a kitchen fire, it is always safer to get out and call 999 than attempt to put the fire out yourself – remember kitchen fires can be dangerous and spread rapidly.


What to do in the event of a fire

Another key part of the course will be ensuring you know exactly what to do in the event of a fire. Whether you are training for work or the home, you should be able to make certain that everyone knows exactly what to do should the smoke alarm sound. In the event of a fire, every second matters, so getting people out safely and quickly is imperative.

Some training courses will offer hands on training to tackle a fire and correctly use a fire extinguisher. Others will ensure you know how to plan an escape route to safely get everyone out of the building. According to government fire safety guides, in the case of a fire at home, if the planned escape route is blocked you should get everyone in one room (preferably with a window) and put bedding around the bottom of the door to block out smoke. In offices or multi story buildings, the escape route should avoid lifts and balconies.


What kind of course should I be looking for?

With a number of different courses available, finding the one for you can seem overwhelming.


Work -  If you are training for work, it’s worth looking for a course that gives you a qualification or certificate in fire safety and risk management that you can take back to the office. A work safety course will be very different to one focusing on safety in the home, so check with the course provider if you are unsure.


Specialist skills – There are specialist training courses for those working in care homes, schools, hotels and other buildings that will involve evacuating a large number of people. There are also training courses for those interested in working as fire safety wardens, which will be far more in-depth.


Home – A home fire safety course will cover the basics when it comes to keeping your family safe from fire. From fuses to putting candles out safely, you will learn from qualified experts and no-doubt be surprised at simple things you are doing wrong.


Did you know?

- Faulty electrics (appliances, wiring problems and over loaded plug sockets) cause around 6,000 fires across the UK every year.

- Every single day, the fire brigade are called to three fires caused by candles.

- 21 people die every year because their smoke alarm wasn’t working correctly, or had flat batteries in and never went off.