PEEP FIRE SAFETY – WHAT IS IT AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
Planning, preparation and preparedness are the keys to effective fire safety precautions.
The 2005 Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order made clear to businesses, employers and organisations their responsibilities in the event of a fire: an employer is automatically designated as the Responsible Person (RP). This means they are responsible for organising the safe evacuation of everybody on their premises. If it’s not a workplace, then either the owner of the building, or another person who has control of the premises, can be the designated RP.
The Order also states that if there are more than 5 employees in a workplace, then a Fire Risk Assessment is required. A number of Government documents are available to help you fulfill the requirements.
One of the major responsibilities is ensuring that all persons on a premises must be evacuated rapidly, including those with reduced accessibility. This is where a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (or PEEP) comes into action. This can be related but is not identical to a Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan or FEEP.
What does PEEP mean in fire safety?
A PEEP is an individual escape plan for people who require extra assistance to enable them to exit a building in the case of emergency. This may be in the form of help, guidance or special equipment to allow them to evacuate rapidly and safely.
PEEPs are usually required for staff and regular visitors with any of the following:
- Mobility impairments
- Hearing impairments
- Sight impairments
- Cognitive impairments
Children and the elderly will also need PEEPs if their mobility is reduced or if they would struggle to leave a building safely.
Sometimes, a temporary PEEP is necessary for people with short term conditions. These include injuries like a broken leg or ankle and women in the later stages of pregnancy. The RP should be made aware of these temporary conditions and take action as necessary.
In short, anyone who would have difficulty exiting a building quickly and safely, will need a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan.
PEEPs and the Health and Safety Legislation (HSE)
‘Health and safety legislation should not prevent disabled people finding or staying in employment’. The HSE are very clear on this. This legislation acts as a support for them and aims to allow as many people as possible to find work and be protected by the same safety precautions as others.
Local fire and rescue authorities have the right to inspect your premises without prior notice. If a breach of regulations is found, they can issue you with an informal notice to first advise you of the alterations needed in order to comply with the law. There are three types of notice for more serious problems: an alteration notice, an enforcement notice and a prohibition notice, depending on the seriousness of the issues found. Fire safety officers should help you with these and explain how to fix the problems.
Non compliance can ensue heavy fines and can sometimes result in prison sentences. Minor penalties can be up to £5000 while major penalty fines can be unlimited and mean up to 2 years in prison.
What are PEEP fire regulations and how do they affect my premises?
In order to ensure safe evacuation for everybody, the Equality Act states that ‘reasonable adjustments’ to buildings may be required. If this isn’t possible, a person may have to work in another part of the premises. Sometimes this might require a reshuffle of working areas.
We recommend that you issue each staff member and regular visitor with a fire evacuation information form so that all the necessary information is processed.
It can be useful to have a notice on view to prompt anybody requiring extra assistance to make themselves known on arrival, however, a standard PEEP should be in place for the occasional visitor. If a systematic process is in place, it becomes easier to ensure the safety of everybody on the premises.
See our example below of a Fire Evacuation notice. We have included an A4 version that you can download and print at the bottom of the page.
What is a PEEP fire plan?
A PEEP is an individual plan, tailored to a specific person. PEEPs can vary from place to place and can depend on the specific case. However, it should include at least:
- Details of the individual needing the PEEP i.e. their work station, position etc.
- Details of the allocated escape route
- The details of the people who would help the individual evacuate
- The details of the people who will carry out the necessary training and practice of the evacuation plan
- Information on any special equipment needed for the evacuation
- If, how and when they need to be alerted to a fire. Do they need flashing lights or a pager for them to notice the alarm, as in the case of deaf employees or visitors?
It is important to draw the plan up with the individual and make sure that they are aware of their specific evacuation plan and of the people who will assist them in the event of an emergency.
What is a PEEP fire evacuation?
A PEEP fire evacuation is when a specific plan is carried out during a fire evacuation. For example, a designated PEEP fire warden might have to lay out specific equipment like emergency mobility ramps or emergency stairway evacuation chairs for a wheelchair user.
What is a PEEP fire warden?
A fire warden is someone who has responsibilities allocated to them both in terms of ongoing fire safety maintenance and during an actual fire drill or evacuation. There is usually a designated fire warden in specific areas of a workplace, for example, there can be department fire wardens, floor fire wardens, or faculty fire wardens.
Fire wardens – sometimes referred to as fire marshals – will monitor fire exits regularly, ensuring they are clear at all times. They should identify and report any fire hazards and take the correct, planned action in the event of a fire. Fire extinguisher training and knowledge of other relevant equipment like fire doors and fire alarms is necessary for a PEEP fire warden.
A PEEP fire warden is someone designated to guiding the individual with their evacuation plan. They should be aware of the specific PEEP. Sometimes specialist training is required so this must be completed and practiced in order to be completely prepared.
Staff on holiday, in meetings or off sick can affect the execution of a PEEP so make sure that more than one person is trained and allocated to assist the evacuation to ensure that someone is always available to help.
What is a PEEP fire drill?
Fire drills are essential. A simple rule of thumb is more practice – less panic! Fire drills should be practiced regularly, and all staff should be aware of fire evacuation routes. PEEP fire drills are just as, if not more important, to practice as they require more training. Employers should make sure the relevant people are fully trained to use any equipment required for a PEEP fire plan.
PEEPs are needed to secure the safe evacuation of everyone. They should be reviewed and amended regularly to ensure their effectiveness. When a change is made, be sure to communicate the changes to everyone involved.
We realise that FEEPs and PEEPs may seem somewhat confusing, and there is a lot of importance riding on them. So if you require more assistance in formulating your fire evacuation plans, whether it is a FEEP for your company, or a PEEP for specific members of staff, get in touch with DFP today and we will be more than happy to help!
Click here for a printable version of a Fire Evacuation Assistance Notice.