Eight people safely evacuated from Southport Masonic Hall

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 replaces most fire safety legislation with one simple order. It means that any person who has some level of control in premises must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire. Achieving fire safety is often a matter of common sense, but it is necessary to set aside enough time to work through the necessary steps. The order applies to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space.

Iain Brown (front left) gives an introduction to delegates

Iain Brown (front left) gives an introduction to delegates

The Southport Masonic Hall Company Fire Safety Policy 2011 has built on the 2003 fire safety policy and has incorporated the additional duties laid down in the current legislation. In Southport although the ultimate ‘Responsible Person’ is the group chairman, because of the peripatetic nature of the use of the hall a decision has been made that each group that meet at the hall nominate at least two representatives to be responsible for their own membership. Usually this will be the secretary and the DC, as they have the authority and personal knowledge of their members should the alarm be raised, however others can (and should be nominated) to assist in case of absence or illness.

With this in mind, on a beautiful Saturday morning in February, Alyn Rimmer and Iain Brown hosted a fire evacuation training session for those who hadn’t already attended one, to get an overview of the reasons for the training and obtain hands on experience in the use of the Evacusafe chairs.

On this occasion there were eight brethren present, who after a brief and light hearted introduction were presented with the agenda for the meeting. This covered the background, reasons for these sessions, what is new or may have changed in the legislation, the responsible person and his delegates, the tasks and the responsibilities of the delegated persons, Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEP’s) and who may need help, and finally the Evacuation Procedures.

Initially, Iain went through the PowerPoint presentation which is specific to the Southport Hall and pointed out that although the ultimate responsibility is with the chairman of the group it is in all our interests to be aware of the policies and procedures of safety. To know who may need help and what the approved routes for evacuation are from the specific rooms if an alarm is heard. Iain went on to say that it’s not always the old or infirm that may be in the most need of help. There may be personal circumstances of a comparatively younger and outwardly looking fitter person that may need to have that little bit of extra attention.

To end the presentation, a video of the Evacusafe chair was then shown which covered the use and benefits of using this type of chair in the case of an emergency evacuation.

Iain and Alyn then gave a personal demonstration of how the chairs were stored and how to initially set them up, how to secure a person into the chair and then how to change from using the chair as a wheel chair to modifying it to go down the stairs. Alyn then explained to the brethren present that the hall had two of these chairs which are located on the first floor near to the stairs where they will be needed.

There was then a tour of the building, highlighting the emergency exits and the approved primary and secondary routes to take from individual rooms. This highlighted some minor issues such as obstacles, which may obstruct the use of the chair currently, and an explanation of the plans that are in place to resolve these.

The group was then split into two and both chairs were used down the two flights of stairs so that everyone could have the opportunity of hands on training as well as a chance of experiencing the chair from a patient’s point of view.

This thoroughly enjoyable and important course will be run at regular intervals throughout the season. Iain said that if you are asked to attend one of these sessions or to get involved it is because your lodge, chapter or group believes that you are responsible and capable enough to be trusted with this responsibility and recognises you as someone that is able to help. However he pointed out that he could not confirm that there will be a new ‘Red Collar’ or ‘Fire Extinguisher’ jewel to acknowledge attendance of the course and proficiency in the use of the Evacusafe chair; this led to much hilarity.

Southport members training in the use of the Evacusafe chair.

Southport members training in the use of the Evacusafe chair.