Assisting fire fighting with emergency folders

  • Emergency folders can assist the fire service with dynamic risk assessment upon their arrival at a burning building
  • They are relatively cost-effective for organisations to compile, yet they may significantly improve damage limitation

Extensive fire detection or sprinkler systems may be helpful in dealing with a fire, but a simple cost-effective risk document may also have an effect on how a fire is tackled at an organisation’s premises.

Before the fire service tackles a fire, an assessment of the incident must be carried out. This assessment must be undertaken in what is a rapidly evolving, hazardous and dynamic environment.

Firefighters are experienced in assessing risk, and information is one of the key components used in deciding which strategy to adopt. Having relevant and concise information easily to hand can only help. This may often mean just tackling the fire from the outside, to prevent fire spreading to adjoining buildings.

An emergency folder is a vital fire-fighting element for any building. Being able to pass it on to the fire brigade when they first arrive could mean the difference between a successful fire-fighting operation and the total loss of the building and its contents.

Emergency services should be made familiar with a fire action plan and a senior person nominated to meet the fire and rescue service when they arrive, to provide them with any information required. They should have an intimate knowledge of the premises.

If there is no-one on site when the fire service arrives, it is crucial that the emergency folder can provide this central source of detailed information to help deal with any fire.

Allow fire service to quickly assess the risks

The emergency folder should be comprehensive but concise, allowing the fire service to quickly assess the risks inside a building, by helping them build up a picture of the materials involved, if any hazardous substances are present, the layout of a building and how the fabric of a building will respond to fire.

However, care needs to be taken to ensure that only information relevant to the fire service is contained within the folder. This will allow quicker decision-making based on essential facts.

Enormous benefit

It’s the comprehensive assessment of possible dangers that makes emergency folders of such benefit to the fire service. It is important, too, that the emergency folder is routinely reviewed, ideally annually, in line with the fire risk assessment and located somewhere where it can be easily found and taken off the premises to the assembly point if a fire starts. In small, low-risk premises the folder may only need to contain a few sheets of paper.

However, emergency folders can contain sensitive data and security information, and care must be taken to ensure they are kept safe and secure at all times, especially if they are located near the main entrance of a building. Housing them in a permanently manned security office in a locked box may be a solution.

Emergency folders are relatively cost-effective for organisations to compile, and as every minute counts when trying to control a fire, they can significantly improve outcomes by helping the fire service quickly jump into action, enabling decisive and effective action.

With years of experience, Zurich Municipal is happy to help its customers when it comes to compiling an emergency folder.

It is important to ‘test’ the details within the folder in the event of an emergency, for any omissions or amendments required. It may be that the local brigade may be able to assist with this.

Find out more and access helpful guides and insight with our Fire Risk Resource.