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Spotlight On: Fire Safety Officers
To Protect
and Serve
The role of a Fire Protection Officer
Left to right on photo is the Liverpool South Fire Protection team including Firefighter Faye Disley, Watch Manager Carl Rainbird, Fire Safety Technical Officer (FSTO) John Owens, FSTO Frank Kelly, FSTO Lynn Handley, FSTO Bill Jackson and Administrator Barbara Omar.
The role of a Fire Protection Officer is wide and varied. The District Teams regularly carry out fire safety audits on commercial premises to ensure compliance with the Fire Safety Order. The team also assist partner Authorities with enforcement and advice, inspect petrol filling stations, premises storing and selling fireworks and investigate fire safety complaints.
Following a fire in an occupied property, except single private dwellings, the incident log or referral from an operational crew
is reviewed and an inspector attends the premises. The inspector investigates the circumstances of the fire and determines whether the fire safety measures within the premises were suitable and sufficient. A Fire 1 form will be completed and a fire safety audit carried out at a later date if it is decided that there are significant fire safety issues. Where there is an unusual process or the building is complex or of a significant size then Fire Protection will ensure that the information held by MF&RS is up to date and sufficient to assist operational crews in any future attendance at the premises.
Protection officers carried out a Post Fire Follow Up (PFFU) at a printing company in Speke recently following two fires that had occurred in the printing booths. Discussions with the company fire safety advisor established the following: There are a number of printing lines which include enclosed booths where the ink is applied to the paper and the process is high speed. The ink used is solvent-based (Toluene), which during application gives off flammable vapours. This is a recognised hazard within the printing industry which occasionally results in ignition of the vapours. In an effort to reduce the risk, alternatives to the type of ink used and the process as a whole has been extensively reviewed. The conclusion being that there is no viable alternative, hence control measures have been introduced which include both manual and automatic CO2 flooding systems, together with various methods of detection.
The PFFU established that adequate procedures are in place and they were implemented during these incidents. A premises risk assessment has been carried out which was satisfactory.
The opinion of the inspectors was that all reasonable steps have been taken to both control and deal with the risk.
Lynn Hanley attended the post fire investigation with Technical Officer John Owens. Prior to joining the Fire and Rescue Service, Lynn was a Health and Safety Manager within the social care sector. One of her responsibilities was to accompany Fire Safety Inspectors when they were conducting fire safety audits of care premises for which she had a responsibility. Being part of that process further developed her interest in fire safety.
Lynn, who has been with Liverpool Fire Protection since 2012, said: “The knowledge and understanding of fire safety that I received from the inspections made me realise that this was a career path I wanted to follow.
“Not having a fire and rescue service background and coming into the fire service externally, full-time, was quite daunting due to the different ways of working, especially having never experienced working in a uniformed service or the Public Sector before. However, from the first day I became a part of the Liverpool Fire Protection team, the support, guidance and welcome I received from fire protection officers enabled me to fit into the team from the start.
“The one thing I remember from my first week at Liverpool Fire Protection, which I found quite astonishing, was the amount of technical knowledge and expertise that protection officers possess in all aspects of fire safety and the diversity of the role. To be able to gauge the right balance of risk versus cost in order to keep businesses up and running at the same time as ensuring the safety of the public and firefighters.
“It is quite daunting the amount of knowledge that is required to carry out the role to ensure compliance with the Fire Safety Order. You have to be committed and dedicated to this role and to be able to work as a member of a team is imperative.”
Lynn has been mentored throughout the last two and a half years by various senior Level 1 inspectors. She has successfully completed numerous fire safety training courses which will assist her in gaining her Level 1 power of signature in the very near future.

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