Synagogues must be a safe place for members and others to visit – part of fulfilling this requirement is ensuring that all measures have been taken to prevent fire.
The following preventative steps should always be followed:
- Before using any electrical appliances carry out a quick check to make sure that the cables, plugs etc. are not damaged.
- Do not use any electrical equipment that shows signs of damage, even if it appears only to be minor. Report any faults you find to your line manager and find an alternative appliance.
- Ensure that rubbish is placed in the proper waste bins. Do not overfill the bins and ensure that the waste bins are accessible to the cleaners at the end of each day.
- Ensure that no smoking takes place in and around the buildings.
- Ensure that alarms or detection systems are maintained in good working order, tested on a regular basis and serviced yearly.
- Ensure that fire extinguishers are maintained, stored in the correct place and serviced on a yearly basis.
- Ensure that the mains electrical systems are maintained and tested on a five-yearly basis.
- Ensure that portable equipment is maintained and tested when required – see section on PAT testing.
- If cooking is taking place in the synagogue, ensure that it is not left unattended.
- Ensure that fire exits are kept clear of obstructions, are clearly signposted, and are in good working order.
- Be vigilant and proactive to ensure that anything that could be considered to be a fire risk is dealt with, rather than assuming someone else will deal with it. It is everyone’s responsibility to work together to prevent fires.
Action to take if the fire alarm goes off:
- Immediately stop what you are doing and walk (do not run) to the nearest available safe fire exit. If your nearest exit/route is obstructed, choose another route. Make sure that you are aware of the fire exits and routes in your area.
- Follow the instructions of your designated Fire Warden or emergency evacuation coordinator.
- Direction signs should indicate the route to your fire exit. These comprise a white arrow on a green background sometimes accompanied by the words ‘FIRE EXIT’ and also a pictogram of a running man. The arrows indicate the direction of the nearest fire exit.
- Do not use a lift to leave the building – always use designated stairs.
- Make your way to the appropriate assembly point.
- Once you are at the assembly point you should report to the Fire Warden or evacuation coordinator so that they can account for the people in their designated area.
- Do not leave the designated assembly point, or attempt to re-enter the building, until you have been instructed to do so by the Fire Warden or evacuation coordinator.
Action to take if you discover a fire:
- Raise the alarm. This can be achieved by breaking the glass on the call points or by shouting the instruction “Fire – call the fire brigade”.
- Raise the alarm even if your building is fitted with an automatic fire alarm system which has not yet activated – you must not wait for it to do so of its own accord. The alarm must be raised for every occurrence of a fire, no matter how small it appears to be. This will ensure that people in the building have adequate notice to evacuate should it begin to spread quickly. In addition, modern furnishings may allow the fire to develop unnoticed, so time is of the essence if everyone is to get out safely.
- Call the fire brigade at the earliest available and safe opportunity and do not attempt to tackle the fire unless you have been appropriately trained and can safely do so e.g., a small fire in a waste paper basket. Unless you have been trained you could be putting yourself or somebody else at risk.
Please see the Fire & Evacuation Procedure for further details
All synagogues must maintain a fire file kept up to date with the below information. This should be undertaken by the Responsible Person; this is usually the Administrator / Site Manager or Caretaker.
Fire File Index
- Test logs, comprised of:
- Weekly Fire Alarm Testing
- Monthly Emergency Lighting Testing
- Annual Emergency Lighting Testing
- (at least) Annual Fire & Emergency Evacuation Drill
- Evacuation Plan
- Fire Risk Assessment
- Building / Floor Plans
- Fire Alarm Maintenance & Servicing Records
- Annual Fire Extinguisher Maintenance and Servicing Records
The Annual Fire Extinguisher Maintenance & Servicing, Fire Alarm Maintenance & Servicing is usually arranged locally by the Responsible Person.
(If you have any queries about this, please contact Head Office on 020 8202 2263 or the H&S / Properties Manager – Avi Cohen: firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 3870 4730.)
A log template can be found here. This form should be used to log weekly fire alarm testing, emergency lighting testing, and a fire & emergency evacuation drill. The fire & emergency evacuation drill should be conducted at least once a year and at a time of significant occupancy.
Please note that these are all statutory requirements
Testing and Maintenance
There are three main reasons for routine testing and maintenance:
- To identify any faults signalled and take the appropriate action to rectify them;
- To ensure there have been no major failures of the system, either as a whole or in part; and/or,
- To familiarise occupants of the building with the sound of the alarm.
Weekly Fire Alarm Testing
It is recommended that:
- The operation of a manual call point during normal working hours;
- This test to be carried out at approximately the same time each week;
- A different call point should be tested each week;
Emergency Lighting Testing
The emergency lighting should be tested on a monthly basis. At least once a year, the emergency lighting should be switched on and left to completely discharge. This is in order that to ensure that each unit is working, and that the backup battery can last a long enough amount of time.
Annual Fire & Emergency Evacuation Drill
There are a number of important reasons for conducting a fire & emergency evacuation drill at least once a year:
- Identify weaknesses in the evacuation plan;
- Familiarise new occupants of the building with evacuation procedures;
- Test Personal Emergency Evacuation Procedures (PEEPs) of vulnerable individuals;
- Identify positive and negative reactions to the evacuation of Fire Wardens.
Once the tests have been conducted, they should be recorded in the log sheet. They should be then stored within the Fire File for inspection.
Please note, an inspecting Fire Prevention Officer can make an unannounced visit to inspect your fire precaution, maintenance and testing regime.
Fire Emergency Poster
A fire emergency poster must be displayed on the synagogue notice board, detailing the name of the responsible person, the assembly point, and evacuation instructions. A sample poster can be found here