In a ceremony held on Monday, 28 November, the Health Services Authority (HSA) officially presented certificates to 44 of its staff members who successfully completed training as fire marshals – a new role that has emerged from an effort to improve fire safety and awareness within the organisation.
The main focus of the new Fire Marshal Training Program which started 22 August and is offered by the HSA, is to have well trained people in the right place at the right time.
“In previous years when we had a smaller staff complement the Cayman Islands Fire Department provided training for our staff, however, as the HSA has continued to grow we recognised that we needed to bring this training in house,” Director of Corporate Services Andria Dilbert stated.
Last year Occupational Health and Safety Officer Debra Gaffigan and Paramedic David (Jayse) Wilson, sponsored by the HSA, completed training in London and are now facilitators of two accredited courses being offered at the HSA – the Basic Fire Safety and the Fire Marshal courses. Between the two instructors, almost 500 staff members have completed the basic fire safety course, which is a prerequisite for Fire Marshal training.
“Providing fire training in house has proved very beneficial; a couple of benefits being the ability to have more flexibility in scheduling the sessions which is essential in a 24-hour organisation such as ours and the opportunity to incorporate our Fire Plan into the sessions, so that individually we remain aware of fire prevention in our working environments,” said Ms Dilbert.
The programme was also endorsed by Fire Inspector Brevon Elliott at the presentation ceremony. Mr Elliott, who has worked closely with the HSA, said he considers it to be a milestone in the history of the HSA and one that makes his and his colleagues at the Fire Department jobs easier and the hospital safer.
Addressing the marshals, he said, “We are glad to see that the hospital has taken it upon themselves to roll out a system in house that will not only educate you but give you the tools to be aware and knowledgeable of how to evacuate the hospital in the event of an emergency, specifically a fire emergency.”
The fire marshal’s role is twofold; it is proactive and reactive. The proactive role involves daily and monthly fire safety assessments of their working environment and report of their findings to the Health and Safety Office. Fire risk assessment include: emergency lighting, strobe lights, fire extinguishers, fire pulls and fire doors to ensure that all are functioning properly. This constant widespread monitoring reduces the risk of fire throughout the organisation.
In their reactive role the fire marshal is expected to take charge in a fire situation, perform a sweep of the premises to ensure that all occupants are evacuated and completing the headcount at the assembly point. Marshals are also taught the importance of containing a fire by ensuring windows and doors are closed during an evacuation.
The new programme has provided Occupational Health and Safety Officer Mrs Gaffigan with valuable and timely information gathered from the fire risk assessments.
“The HSA Fire Plan has been strengthened, thanks to our dedicated staff who have embraced and committed to this programme. There is a limit to what a Health and Safety Officer can do and it is impossible for one person to capture all the safety issues in a large organisation. Having capable and dedicated people as fire marshals gives me peace of mind in knowing that even though I cannot be everywhere I have others that can be. Before this programme I only had one set of eyes and ears, I now have 45,” said Mrs Gaffigan.
“Thanks to their efforts, the HSA is a safer place for our employees, patients and visitors,” she added.