Representatives from the police, emergency planning groups and the HSE gathered to speak at a Women in FM special interest group event earlier this month to discuss the impact of their roles upon the business community.
After the opening presentation from Jacqueline Rock, SVP, corporate workplace manager for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who discussed her career in FM, the evening continued with a presentation by superintendent Lorraine Cussen from the City of London police. Cussen discussed how the police aims to work with businesses within the City, to ensure effective policing with minimum disruption to operations.
A key element to this is effective communication. One of the ways that the City of London police aim to keep businesses and residents up to date is via iModus, a communication portal which can send emails and text messages, alerting businesses to incidents, road closures or other events which may impact on the area.
One of the big surprises for the group was that, in the event of a bomb alert, it is up to the individual business to conduct a search of their property. The police only have responsibility for searching public areas, they are not authorised to conduct searches on private property.
Heather Woodham and Sandra Young from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority then gave a presentation on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Woodham gave an overview of the law on fire safety, emphasising that the Order transferred the balance of responsibility away from Fire and Rescue Authorities to ‘responsible persons’ (this may be the employer, person in charge of the premises or the landlord).
Carrying out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment is an important aspect of the Order, as is ensuring co-operation and co-ordination between responsible persons where they share the same property, for example tenants and FMs within a multi-let building.
Woodham continued by outlining the powers of fire safety inspectors and the enforcement action they can take. This was then demonstrated by Young, who presented a case study of a fire safety audit she had carried out.
The final, and very lively, presentation of the evening was given by Kate Field from Sah Sen Consulting. Field worked as a health and safety executive inspector for eight years, and gave an insight into an inspector's role and responsibilities.
One of her key points was that, although inspectors are there to enforce the law, they are also there to give help and advice; as an inspector would much rather help a business to prevent accidents and ill-health, then have to go in afterwards.
Liz Kentish, chair of WiFM, gave a taster of the group’s January event – A Coaching Masterclass – which will help you and your organisation to thrive in 2011. Invitations to the event will be sent out early in the new year.