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Author Topic: fire alarm call points with key operation  (Read 3197 times)
TFEM
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« on: April 08, 2010, 07:21:25 PM »

I was in a school today that looks after children/young adults with behavior problems and noted that all the traditional break glass FACP have been replaced with key operated units, all staff being supplied with keys to activate.
I asked the site manager which key on his bunch he needed to use and after about 30 seconds he found it. That is 30 seconds without any smoke or flames billowing around him.
Obviously then the questions came about visitors raising the alarm (how long would it take them to find a staff member with a key?) and also about contractors working on site out of term time etc etc. I would actually question whether the FRA has been carried out correctly.
Perhaps some of the alarm experts, FO's or FRA's that are "tuned in" can advise whether there is anything in any of the BS's that allow for this situation.
All help gratefully received.
Thanks.
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Phoenix
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2010, 08:41:15 PM »

Hi,

I don't know what the standards say about this procedure but I can tell you that it is a tried and tested technique.  I have come across it in a number of premises with similar problems to your building.  There's nothing wrong with it if it is done correctly.  Staff should be plentiful and they should have no difficulty in immediately finding their key.  Visitors should either be accompanied or reasonably closely attended to by the staff so that they shouldn't have difficulty immediately contacting a staff member to raise the alarm.  Contractors need special consideration depending upon their locations and upon the proximity of staff to those locations.  If they are working on their own in the building, especially out of term time, they should receive some induction training on arrival at the building anyway - the issue of a key (with a giant fob, say, to stop it being misplaced) could be part of this induction.

Believe me, it can work.  However, your building seems to have adopted the policy in a half hearted way.  This is not satisfactory and must be remedied one way or the other.  They really have no choice but to fully implement the correct procedures (probably including some staff training) or to abandon the key operated call points and adopt some other technique to control malicious use.

Stu

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Chris Houston
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2010, 08:45:19 PM »

To consider this acceptable I'd want to be certain that all staff had keys with them at all times.  I'd want to ask random staff to produce their key on demand. 

I've also heard that this is accepted in many locations, but that argument wouldn't convince me it was acceptable.  If I were doing a FRA I'd use my own judgement.

I'm also keen to know what happens if a pupil discovers a fire and it's the lunch break.
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Midland Retty
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 10:16:54 AM »

I would echo Chris' and Phoenix's points.

For this type of system to be effective you do need plenty of staff. Kids would need to be supervised at all times, any visitors escorted and contractors issued with a key to activate the call points as already mentioned.

As you pointed out the big problem here is the key - your chummy took 30 seconds to select the right key - but atleast he had it about his person.

I've been in many places with similar systems only to find that the key isn't on the member of staff questioned, that it is either in their locker, lying under paperwork in the office or, worst still, left at home.

The answer therefore is yes it would be acceptable subject to rigid management control and of course a suitable risk assessment.

Blimey I should be a politician speaking like that!

 
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nearlythere
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 10:42:51 AM »


Blimey I should be a politician speaking like that!

You mean you would like a little second home in the country or by the sea paid for by us hard grafting taxpayer types?

Keys are fine in situations where breakglass systems can be abused. Where we have agreed that the next option is a key operated system I advise a single key on a zinger to be carried by all staff at all times and a safe system of work for such measure.
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David Rooney
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 10:56:26 AM »

Key switches seem very extreme.... we've often just put plastic covers over call points (with the "breakable" plastic tags) in schools and this has been enough to deter 99% of herberts....
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nearlythere
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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2010, 11:06:00 AM »

Key switches seem very extreme.... we've often just put plastic covers over call points (with the "breakable" plastic tags) in schools and this has been enough to deter 99% of herberts....
Schools and institutions for children and young adults with behaviour poblems are two different situations David.
Flaps on points may be adequate for the opportunist but not necessarily for the persons we are talking about.
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Wiz
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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2010, 03:54:01 PM »

Key switches seem very extreme.... we've often just put plastic covers over call points (with the "breakable" plastic tags) in schools and this has been enough to deter 99% of herberts....

And I trust this plastic cover modification was subject to an agreed variation since you've changed a single action call point into a two action call point.
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AnthonyB
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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2010, 10:49:27 PM »

I've seen a variation of the key operated point with the old style KAC points where a standard call point has a red metal plate over the front to prevent access to the glass element and the security staff use the test key point to activate it - the point being that unlike the metal key on the proper key operated points the test key stands out amongst a big bunch of normal metal keys and can always be found in seconds.
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2010, 08:44:54 AM »

Key switches seem very extreme.... we've often just put plastic covers over call points (with the "breakable" plastic tags) in schools and this has been enough to deter 99% of herberts....

And I trust this plastic cover modification was subject to an agreed variation since you've changed a single action call point into a two action call point.

errrrr yes..... between us and the headmaster.. whether the insurer, H&S advisor, dinner lady and caretaker agreed I don't know ....  Smiley
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