The committee have decided that there should be feedback on the website whenever a members’ fire drill is held and we are starting with the drill that took place on 28 October last. We hope this will help to prevent any problems experienced from recurring. THERE ARE THINGS YOU NEED TO DO OR NOT DO. It is also a courtesy to keep you informed. We are sorry this report is belated (though better than none at all as hitherto!) but because of a curtailed December committee meeting (Christmas decorations had to be put up!), discussion of the drill was not completed until the committee meeting on 1 February.
- Thank you for your cooperation during this and previous drills. We know they are a nuisance - but we need them, both for your safety and to comply with statutory obligations.
- We aim to hold only one general members’ drill a year, plus a drill for class members, unless a drill goes seriously wrong. That’s not too bad!
- Be assured the committee has devoted much time to fire and other health and safety, in fact several hundred hours, and we have detailed procedures, guidance and training for all involved, plus a programme of daily, weekly, twice yearly and annual checks. New emergency alarm and lighting systems were installed last summer.
- We believe the risk of fire is very small - smoking is banned, there are no cooking facilities, we now have all electrical appliances professionally checked annually, and the wiring installation was modernised last summer under a major project.
- All the same, we must take adequate precautions in a building with two upper floors housing many people, a number of whom have impaired mobility. We can’t be complacent.
- The drill was held later than intended. Amongst other things, bad weather caused two postponements. However, this had the advantage that any problems arising from it being dark outside weren’t overlooked. Fires don’t happen only on sunny, summer days!
- During drills we don’t use the emergency doors in the mid-floor rear room and bar-room. Why? We think immediate safety is more important than authenticity. Besides climbing down the fire escape steps, you would have to walk along Somerset Place Mews, which has an extremely uneven surface. You might fall and suffer an injury.
- Nevertheless, we don’t neglect the emergency exits, far from it. We have them checked daily to ensure the push-bars open easily and aren’t obstructed. We even had a nursery building demolished in order to widen the passageway on that route. We would never prevent anyone using them in an emergency. Escape from fire is then the priority.
- Nothing went seriously wrong during the October drill and everyone was outside within 5 minutes. That is not to say it went perfectly. It didn’t! In future drills please
- Be familiar with the action plan - re-read it now - click on “Information” and then “Fire Procedures”. It won’t take you long!
- Do treat the alarm sounding as a requirement to evacuate with haste. Don’t assume it’s a drill. If you learn that it is, co-operate by leaving quickly and help to ensure it’s a success.
- DO NOT stop to collect outdoor clothing - don’t block the hall. Some of you did!
- DO NOT use the bathrooms before leaving. One of you did!
- Keep to the right on the staircases and allow people to pass on the left if you have impaired mobility. You will be given assistance as the instructions provide. If you feel you can’t allow space on the left, please allow people behind to pass quickly by before you descend. The fire service can then focus on you if need be and not be distracted by the presence of many others. Congestion on the stairs is a danger to all, for several reasons.
- Do not queue behind members with impaired mobility. Pass them on the left unless you are actively assisting them.
Adhere to these next time and we may tick all the boxes.
Thank you for reading this.