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Recently, I encountered a few queries and clarifications on implementation of controls in ISO 27001. Almost in all cases, details available in ISO 27002 cleared doubts and gray areas. I advise practitioners to frequently refer to ISO 27002 for all their doubts.
Teresita Cirelos wrote this query to me:
Can you please advise me if it is mandatory to have a trained first-aider and a fire marshal for a company with less than 5 employees? If yes, kindly mention in which standard/ requirement / guideline should I refer to.
A building administrator is having one qualified first aider and one qualified fire marshal. This building is occupied by more than 50 small offices. One of the offices furnish a copy of the training certificates (first aider and fire marshal) from the building administrator (with consent) and claim during audit that these trained personnel will be in-charged with their emergency preparedness as well. Is this case conforming to the requirements?
And, this was my response:
Requirements for first aider and fire marshal are imposed by local regulators. For example, in India each factory establishment has to have trained first aid male and female employees at each location as mandated by our Factories Act. The act also mandates which all organizations are authorised to provide such certificate. Similar laws I have witnessed in Singapore and Indonesia. I don’t know what is the legal requirements in UAE. In China, building administrators used to train people for fire precautions and that meets their legal requirements too.
As an auditor: I would like to examine if the law of the land has a requirement for first aiders and fire marshals and are there any numbers of them required per 100 employees. If there is no legal requirements, I would like to examine if the first aider and fire marshal are actually ‘competent’ and have past experience in such roles. If not, merely having a certificate from building administration may not be considered as ‘adequate’ for the purpose. Also, one fire marshal is not sufficient for the job which needs round clock the attention/ vigil. S/he must be going on leave, and who will be responsible during the leaves- remains an open issue. A person cannot be expected to remain on vigil on 24X7 basis- month after month. Same is true for the first aider. Another aspect is the demand of the process of the company. Since, auditors audit against the defined process of the company, you as an auditor need to examine the compliance from this angle too. A few probing questions to fire marshal and first aider by the auditor may expose them if they are really not competent for the job. Three such questions may be: a. What was the learning from last round of mock fire drills/ last 10 first aid incidents and where are they recorded? b. Are these people members of professional forums/ discussion groups/ societies to keep their knowledge up-to-date on subjects of fire fighting and first aid. c. How can a male first aider handle a pregnant lady in distress because of sickness or fire? Finally, you may take a lenient view as the organization is a tiny one as far as no. of employees is concerned.
As an auditee: Rather than depending on just a single first aider and single fire marshal, I would like to have more of them and also have an agreement with the building administration to come forward to assistance when needed.
Internet is full of best practices for fire fighters and first aid professionals. See this link for best practices in fire fighting: http://www.iaff.org/tech/ops/CurrentEvents.htm . The second article in this link says more fire fighters were found to be more effective in case of real fire incidents. You can go through articles on first aid and fire fighting on www.irca.org.