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Fire Brigade Union strikes – please take extra care

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Firefighters across England plan to take industrial action in the form of strike action from 6pm on Friday 31 October until 6pm on Tuesday 4 November. Although the fire service has said that it will respond to 999 calls and emergencies during the four days affected, there may be a longer wait for fire crews to respond to emergency calls and fewer available appliances. Accordingly, we are asking everyone at QMUL to be vigilant and to make extra checks to ensure that non-essential items are not left switched on when offices, labs and buildings are closed, and that corridors and rooms are free from rubbish, so that we can minimise the risk of fire and false alarms.

The Fire Brigades Union strike is taking place in the days that lead up to 5 November Bonfire Night celebrations and everyone is reminded that fireworks and bonfires are not allowed on any Queen Mary campus. If you are attending events with fireworks and bonfires, please take extra care to prevent out of control fires and take thorough precautions to help stop the spread of an uncontrolled fire.

Whether you live on or off campus, please be careful at home and take extra care to prevent a fire and avoid unnecessary call outs to the Fire Brigade. A helpful guide to preventing fire at home is available from the Fire Brigade website: www.london-fire.gov.uk/safetyathome. *

For up-to-date information on whether or not the strike is going ahead or whether further strikes are planned, please check the government website: www.london-fire.gov.uk. * 

And remember QMUL’s 24/7 emergency number is 0207 882 3333 (3333 internally)

*Please note that the links to the London Fire Brigade website work in Firefox and Google Chrome browsers, but not in all versions of Internet Explorer.

QMUL’s response

During any proposed industrial action by the FBU there will be no change in the evacuation procedures that are in place on any QMUL property. The differences that need to be planned for relate to the level and speed of emergency response from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) and the self-help measures that therefore need to be in place as a reaction to this.

During any strike periods, there may be fewer available fire appliances and a longer wait for fire crews to get to the campus. Also those crews attending may not be as familiar with the local buildings or the campus layout.  

Extra care to be taken

  • Switch off PCs and any other electrical equipment possible before you leave work, if it does not need to run overnight or the weekend. If your colleagues have left already, please check to see what you can switch off in their absence.
  • Good housekeeping is even more vital during periods of increased risk. Ensure that rubbish or furniture does not obstruct corridors or fire exits, or is piled up outside where there may be a risk of arson.
  • Don’t smoke anywhere in QMUL buildings and do dispose of cigarettes safely. All staff should challenge anyone found smoking on the campuses.
  • Fire Marshals and other responsible individuals should make additional checks of their areas before the buildings close and report fire risks to line managers or Security. Any damage to fire doors, extinguishers, or alarms should be reported.
  • Keep fire doors closed to prevent smoke and any fire from spreading.
  • Where possible all hot works and heat producing experiments should be cancelled. Where this is not possible extra checks should be made to ensure that the area is safe. It is recommended for ‘hot works’ that an extra hour (two hours instead of one) is added to the fire watch period.  This is to ensure that no accidental fires are left smouldering after the hot works are completed.
  • Staff and students need to be extra vigilant and careful to reduce fire risks to an absolute minimum. Greater care when cooking, showering or using hair products is essential to reduce the risk of false alarms.

Usual emergency building evacuation procedure applies

  • Don’t attempt to fight a fire unless you have been specially trained to do this. If you do discover a fire, activate the fire alarm by pressing the red “break glass” box next to fire exit door.
  • If you hear the fire alarm, immediately leave the building by the nearest available exit and go to the fire assembly point.
  • Direct others to the fire exits and if you are leading a meeting or event, make sure that the room is cleared before leaving.
  • Use the stairs, not the lifts. If you are unable to use stairs, check now where the designated evacuation lift and/or safe refuge areas are located in your area.
  • Do not re-enter the building until told it is safe to do so by a Fire or Security Officer.

Additional measures in place

  • During the hours of any strike, Security will deploy extra patrols and employ an officer to monitor alarm systems as a dedicated role.
  • Residents must do all that they can to minimise cooking-related alarm activations as well as keeping on top of any accumulations of refuse etc. Residences Housekeeping team will do what they can to help with this.
  • All alarm activations will be verified by patrols, prior to the LFB being called.

QMUL’s emergency contact number – 0207 882 3333

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