Once upon a time, at a previous company, I had an offer from a na=EFve fire sprinkler company to conduct hands-on
fire extinguisher training free of charge.=A0 I explained that I had 1500 employees and that I would put all of them through the training.
"No problem", said the sprinkler company representative, "We consider it a public service".=A0
So I countered with, ..."and I have another 5000 employees at a sister plant 15 miles away - would you train them as well?"=A0
"Sure he said."=A0=A0 So I went to see my boss about taking advantage of this incredible offer. =A0
I knew my boss would follow the company line and say something like, "...we don't train our employees to use extinguishers
because we don't want them to put themselves at risk to save company assets...people come first, property second..."
=A0So, I was prepared with an appropriate reply.=A0
Sure enough, he said exactly what I described, whereupon I said,
"How about we train people to fight their way out of a fire using an extinguisher,
and reinforce the idea that they should never put property ahead of their own safety?"
=A0My boss, being no dummy, took a microsecond to decide, and said, “train them all, and put me in the first class!”
…and that’s how I managed to get 6500 employees trained to use a fire extinguisher.
NOTE: The fire sprinkler company quickly learned that they needed to charge $1 per extinguisher to re-charge the used ones.
With that small change in the agreement, we continued to have the sprinkler company come on-site to train new employees
once a year, at a cost of about 35 cents per employee. Soon we opened up the training to family members as well.
The sprinkler company never won the contract to provide fire sprinkler services to the company, but said that word-of-mouth
from all the people they’ve trained has kept them in business for many years.
FURTHER NOTE: This happened about 20 years ago. Costs have gone up, and there are air pollution prohibitions against smoky fires
that prevent the kind of training we did back then. However, the argument still works !
LAST WORD: I realize that the events I described happened in industry, and “things are different in industry”.
Years earlier when I taught techniques of laboratory experimentation in a large university, I always included a quick discussion
about fire safety in the lab, as part of the curriculum! =A0This included the chemistry of fire and ignition, the fire triangle,
types of extinguishers, the basics about using a fire extinguisher, and ended with a live demonstration.
While not the same as hands-on training facing real flames, it’s not a bad second choice,
and might circumvent the ridiculous policy issues we’ve been reading about.
CSP, CIH, CHMM, CHO, REA, CPEA, CSHM
Senior Program Manager, Safety & I.H.
Corporate Environment, Health, & Safety Group
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