By: Selina Rapulane 19 September 2022

Attendees of the Basic Fire Training

“Fires affect thousands of homes and companies each year resulting in injury, loss of lives and building damage. Having prevention strategies and programs that train people to better be prepared is important so that they can eliminate fire hazards and respond quickly and efficiently if a fire breaks out.”

These were the words of Mr Gerald Thomas from Mash Insurance during his presentation at the Basic Fire Fighting Training for the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) staff members. The training was held on Monday, 12 September at the Isak Steyl Cricket Club.

The training’s primary objective was to educate employees in identifying different types of fire, understanding, and practicing fire prevention, operating basic fire fighter equipment, and performing basic firefighting procedures.

“Conducting workplace firefighter training with employees is essential for them to gain skills such as spotting dangers, completing a fire risk assessment, taking action to prevent fires, and finally understanding how to respond in an emergency caused by a fire”, Gerald further mentioned.

After the presentation, all employees were instructed to go outside the premises for a practical on how to use a fire extinguisher. During the practical, employees reacted confidently and appropriately to switching the fire off and were self-assured that they were better equipped to deal with fire hazards in the workplace.

“I am happy that I signed up for this training. What I learned today will not only help me at work, but at home as well. I learned of different methods of extinguishing fire and best ways of practicing fire safety”, said Mr Kabelo Mamadisa, one of the 48 staff members who attended the training.

In concluding the training, Mr Zachariah Motaung: Occupational Health and Safety Officer at VUT added that, “One of the key strategies to sustaining a safe workplace and preventing fires is being trained on fire safety. Without proper training, a small occurrence can quickly grow to become a major incident with disturbing consequences. That is why we as a department saw a need to have this training for our employees and we are happy with the outcome”.

Tips to prevent fires in the workplace include:

  • Keep the workplace clean.
  • Smoke only in designated areas and extinguish smoking materials safely.
  • Mark hazards and potential fire risks with clear, visible signage. Post emergency telephone numbers and the company address by the telephone in all work areas.
  • Have faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical equipment repaired promptly. Never attempt electrical repairs unless you are qualified and authorized.
  • Avoid running electrical cords or wires under rugs and carpets or near a heat source; keep them out of doorways where they can become worn.
  • Maintain open access to all electrical control panels. Material or equipment stored in front of the panels could delay power shutdowns in emergency situations.
  • Use and store chemicals safely. Read the labels and the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to learn about flammability and other fire hazards. Provide adequate ventilation when using and storing these substances.
  • Never block sprinklers, firefighting equipment, or emergency exits. Observe clearances when stacking materials.
  • Learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Know where fire extinguishers are located and which extinguishers to use for the specific type of fire.