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Health and Safety Services

Emergency procedures

1. Introduction - Requirement for Emergency Procedures
1.1 Requirement for Emergency Procedures
1.2 Scope of the Procedures
1.3 Pattern of Use of College Buildings

2. Principles of the Policy
2.1 Aims of the Policy
2.2 Objectives of the Policy

3. Emergency Co-ordination Team - Designation and Training
3.1 Designation of Emergency Coordinators
3.2 Training of Emergency Coordinators
3.3 Designation of Fire Marshals
3.4 Training/Instruction of Fire Marshals

4. Emergency Procedures
4.1 The Alarm Systems
4.2 Duties of Emergency Coordinators
4.3 Duties of Attendant staff in support of the Emergency Coordinator
4.4 Other general procedures in a fire evacuation
4.5 Duties of Night Security Staff
4.6 Duties of Fire Marshals

5. Fire Instructions and Information
5.1 Fire Instructions
5.2 Assembly Points
5.3 Fire Information
5.4 Use of Fire Extinguishers
5.5 Frequently Asked Emergency Evacuation Questions

6. Specific Emergency Situations
6.1 Bomb Threat
6.2 Suspicious Packages
6.3 Gas Leak
6.4 Power Cuts

7. Miscellaneous
7.1 Fire Drills
7.2 Fire Certificates and Fire Risk Assessments
7.3 Building Modifications
7.4 Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems
7.5 Autodiallers
7.6 First Aid
7.7 Management of Emergency Situations
Appendix One - Taking Information from a Telephoned Bomb Threat


1.1 Requirement for Emergency Procedures
i) Regulation 8(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) requires all employers to establish and where necessary give effect to appropriate procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to persons at work in his undertaking. Guidance to the Regulations states that a risk assessment should identify the foreseeable events that need to be covered by these procedures and that for some employers, fire (and possibly bomb) risks will be the only ones that need to be covered.

ii) Contacts with external services - Regulation 9 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) states that, "Every employer shall ensure that any necessary contacts with external services are arranged, particularly as regards first-aid, emergency medical care and rescue work.".

1.2 Scope
i) These procedures cover the actions that must be taken by various personnel from the time an incident or emergency is detected up to the 'all clear'. They do not take into account follow-on action in the light of major loss of plant, equipment or catastrophe.

ii) It is clearly recognised that each emergency situation will have its own features that cannot be completely anticipated here. This document gives the general structure for the management of a variety of foreseeable emergency situations.

1.3 Pattern of Usage of College Buildings
i) In day-time (8.00am - 5.00pm) the occupants of Birkbeck buildings are mainly Birkbeck staff in the offices and laboratories with external organisations hiring the lecture rooms and theatres for use by their clients. Users of the computer suites are students from Birkbeck or other especially authorised organisations.  Users of the Library are mainly Birkbeck students but at certain times there can be an influx of readers from other institutions. The majority of non-teaching staff work between 8.00am and 6.30pm.

ii) In the evenings (5.00pm - 11pm) the occupants are mostly Birkbeck students attending classes taught by Birkbeck lecturers until 9.00pm or in the Library until 10.30pm (all night during exam periods) or the George bar until 11.30pm though as stated in 1.3 the Library can have a considerable number of readers from other institutions at certain times of the week and year as Birkbeck is considered a 'good' place to study. Evening events for up to 250 persons are held from time-to-time in the Clore Building for example. Many of those attending such events are visitors i.e. neither staff nor students.

iii) Occupancy levels - taking the Main Building as an example, when fully let in daytime or during evening teaching the occupancy level can be 2000 or just above.

iv) Overnight (11.30pm - 8.00am), students from Birkbeck or other especially authorised organisations are allowed to use certain Main Building computer suites and some members of staff may choose to work in their offices or laboratories in the Main Building.  See also 1.3 (ii) on the 24 hour Library service at times. Probably no more than 50 persons remain in the Main Building overnight and all other buildings are closed and intruder alarms are set at midnight. A contract security officer is stationed at the reception desk of the Main Building whilst another patrols the building. Other buildings have a midnight closure rule and are patrolled at regular intervals by contract security officers.

v) At weekends - during the day there is extensive use of the Libraries and computer suites by Birkbeck students and many rooms are let to external organisations. Probably no more than 20 Birkbeck staff will be in the Main Building and only a very few of those e.g. attendants and librarians will be officially time-tabled as 'at work'.

2. Principles of the Policy

2.1 Aims
The aim of these procedures is to ensure, in the event of an emergency:
a) the safety of staff, students and visitors
b) minimum disruption and risk to the College.
These aims will be met by ensuring the appropriate management structure to meet the following objectives.

2.2 Objectives
The effective management of an emergency depends upon the ability of the organisation to implement a system, which can immediately gather information into a central point, make decisions based on the received information and implement the appropriate action. At Birkbeck the following objectives are to be achieved within six minutes after the fire alarm sounds or an emergency commences by another means - e.g. see 6.2 & 6.3 below.
a) establish an emergency control team at a pre-arranged control point - normally the Main Building, main entrance.
b) establish communication between the scene of the incident, possibly another building, and the control point.
c) confirm that the emergency services have been informed as necessary.
d) determine local hazards - e.g. fire in a laboratory.
e) restrict access/egress to traffic where necessary.
f) provide adequate information for the emergency services when they arrive.
g) supply first aid cover - use Birkbeck first aider or call an ambulance if necessary.
h) complete the evacuation of all affected areas.
i) assess the degree of emergency and inform senior management and the Press Officer if required
j) secure affected buildings - i.e. do not allow re-entry until the all-clear is given.
The above objectives will be achieved via an emergency co-ordination team consisting of the Emergency Coordinator, fire marshals and other such specialist and management staff as each particular situation may require.

3. Emergency Coordination Team - Designation and Training

3.1 Designation of Emergency Coordinators
i) Regulation 8(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) requires all employers to nominate a sufficient number of competent persons to implement their emergency procedures. At Birkbeck there is always an attendant on duty at Main Building. The College has an internal emergency contact number - 555 - that all staff and students are advised to contact in the event of an emergency in any building.  Internal telephones and notices to that effect are provided in the lecture theatres and larger classrooms. Also, the fire alarm systems of all buildings are connected by auto-dialler to the 555 extension which is located at Main Building reception. Since the Main Building reception is always staffed, any auto-dialler or person telephoning 555 will always be answered and action swiftly initiated. The reception areas of the other major Birkbeck buildings also have duty attendants during peak hours. In the event of an emergency, the duty attendant at the Main Building reception desk is designated as the Emergency Coordinator i.e. the competent person nominated to implement Birkbeck's emergency evacuation procedures. The attendants on duty at other buildings act as emergency coordinators for those when they are open.

ii) To ensure that there are a sufficient number of persons to assist the Emergency Coordinator, the Emergency Coordinator is empowered to co-opt other members of staff to provide such basic assistance as might be necessary.

3.2 Training of Emergency Coordinators
i) Regulation 8(3) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999) defines a competent person who has had sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable him/her to implement the evacuation procedures properly.

ii) To ensure the competence of emergency coordinators, no attendant is allowed to take charge of the Main Building Reception area until he/she has attended a training session on the duties of emergency coordinators delivered by the College Health and Safety Officer (CHSO).

3.3 Designation of Fire Marshals
i) The Fire Risk Assessments for College Buildings require fire marshals and deputies to be appointed for each discrete zone of floor space such as 'Main Building, ground floor corridor' or 'Extension Building, 3rd floor'.  The Main Building was 'divided' into 30 fire marshalling zones each with a named 'zone fire marshal' and deputy.   Zone fire marshals have also been identified for all other Birkbeck Buildings with the exception of 10 Gower Street which will be covered in due course.

ii) However, it is recognised that due to the hours that Birkbeck is open and the patterns that staff work, it cannot be guaranteed that the designated zone fire marshals or deputies will always be present. Accordingly, in order that there shall be sufficient numbers of Fire Marshals at all times it is the policy of the College that all staff are expected to act as basic Fire Marshals and they shall receive appropriate training and/or information for that purpose. See:

3.4 Training/Instruction of Fire Marshals
To ensure that all staff are competent to act as fire marshals, all new staff are provided with full information on Birkbeck's   evacuation and fire marshalling procedures within one month of starting work and are required to acknowledge that they have received and understood this information.   Departments can also arrange for  the College Health and Safety Officer (CHSO) to run a fire safety training session for groups of staff.   Zone Fire Marshals receive additional training from the CHSO.  In addition, new attendant staff have their duties as emergency coordinators explained and issued to them in writing.

4. Emergency Procedures

4.1 The alarm systems
i) All buildings except the main building have single stage alarms i.e. if a break glass or a smoke head is activated then a continuous alarm will sound throughout the building and Malet Street reception will be informed by autodialler.

ii) The main building has a two stage alarm i.e. if a smoke detector is activated it sets off a pre-alarm signal  that is audible only to staff at the main reception desk.  Reception staff acknowledge this signal and despatch a colleague to investigate whether a full alarm should be sounded.  If the colleague reports back that there is no actual fire then the alarm panel can be reset.  If the colleague reports back that there is a fire then the full continuous alarm (second stage) will be sounded.  If the colleague does not manage to report back within 5 minutes then the full continuous alarm will automatically sound.  If a break-glass or a second smoke detector is activated at any stage then the full continuous alarm will automatically sound.  

4.2 Duties of Emergency Co-ordinators
a)  On hearing the alarm at Malet Street or on being told via the 555 emergency phone that an alarm is active in another building, the emergency co-ordinator will immediately dial (9)999 and summon the fire brigade giving all information available and especially which building is involved.

b)  Check the origin of the alarm on the fire alarm panel so that the Fire Brigade can be directed there on their arrival. If there is an available member of staff – send them to investigate the cause of the alarm though this is not absolutely essential and note all the precautions to be exercised in an investigation in section (4.4) below.

c)  Summon assistance from attendants on duty and co-opt any members of Birkbeck staff who may be present. This may mean contacting attendant staff from other buildings.

d) Instruct the available staff to go to the various exits and assist with crowd control – especially the extension building exit at Malet Street  which may be heavily used by bar occupants. 

e) If information is received about disabled persons waiting for advice or assistance  - arrange for this to be sent to them via another attendant or a responsible person such as the CHSO. 

f) Liaise with the Fire Brigade on their arrival and pass on any information about the situation that has come to the attention of the Emergency Co-ordinator on the situation e.g. (i) the seat of the fire / (ii) the cause of the fire / (iii) details of areas which are clear of persons or where disabled persons are waiting for advice or assistance /  (iv) details of persons who have failed to evacuate / (v) details of any failed engineering controls.

g) Summon and direct first aiders or the ambulance/paramedic service as necessary

h) When advised by the Fire Brigade that it is safe to do so – arrange for the fire alarm to be reset - by the Fire Brigade, maintenance staff or if in the evening or weekend, contact the on-call maintenance staff member for instructions in how to do so.

i) Give the all clear to allow occupants back in once the fire alarm has been re-set.

j) Write up an incident report immediately after the event

4.3 Duties of attendant staff in support of the Emergency Coordinator  

a) Keep all evacuees moving promptly through the exit doors whilst awaiting the arrival of the Fire Brigade.  

b) Inform the Emergency Coordinator of any information received from evacuees, e.g. (i) the seat of the fire / (ii) the cause of the fire / (iii) details of areas which are clear of persons or where disabled persons are waiting for advice or assistance /  (iv) details of persons who have failed to evacuate / (v) details of any failed engineering controls.

c) If directed to do so by the Emergency Coordinator – investigate the cause of the alarm but take the precautions set out in (4.4) below.

d) If directed to do so by the Emergency Coordinator – advise any disabled person on the situation and assist them to evacuate if this is deemed to be necessary.

4.4.  Other general procedures in a fire evacuation

a) It is not currently essential to investigate the cause of alarms though Fire Brigades across England are gradually moving towards making the confirmation of an actual fire a requirement before they will attend. Birkbeck will move increasingly towards this eventual requirement by checking the cause of a continuously sounding fire alarm if it can be done safely.  The fire brigade will still be called but if an investigation confirms 'no fire' then the call out can be cancelled.  Especial care must be taken if the origin of the alarm is in a room that cannot be seen into without opening the door - check for any sign of a possible fire inside before entering e.g. smoke, heat, burning smell or a warm door.  Crouch down and put body weight against any outward opening door to avoid being knocked over by any rush of air before slowly opening it.

b) The wrong signals can be given to evacuees if, for instance, staff attempt to ascend busy staircases whilst others are descending. Such behaviour can evacuees to do likewise and possibly result in catastrophic falls on staircases. Use less busy staircases and always instruct occupants that they should continue to evacuate.

c) The immediate duty on hearing the fire alarm is to summon the emergency services UNLESS it is known that fire alarm testing is taking place in a building. Fire alarm tests involve ringing alarms for a very few seconds. Even if it is known that testing is taking place, if the alarm continues for more than 10 seconds then it should be assumed that an emergency has occurred and the emergency services should be called.

d) On no account must an alarm be cut short once the emergency services have been called. A full evacuation should be allowed to take place even if it becomes known that there is no 'real' emergency. Cutting alarms short causes confusion and gives out the wrong signal. Occupants will delay their evacuation the next time in case the alarm is again silenced. Such a deliberate delay on their part could put them at risk. Also, persons re-entering while others are still trying to leave could lead to falls and trampling incidents.

e) The contact telephone numbers of senior College Officers are kept at the main reception desk at Malet Street as is the contact number for the College Health and Safety Officer/Fire Officer. When such officers may be expected to be off site, for example during the night, at week-ends or College closure days, one must be contacted and informed of any incident such as a fire, flood or explosion which might be thought to threaten the College's ability to function normally. Once informed such officers will determine what further action to take. The Fire Brigade may require the College Health and Safety Officer/Fire Officer to be contacted to provide information

4.5 Duties of Night Security Staff

Night Security Staff take over responsibility for implementing the above fire evacuation procedures at Birkbeck when they replace the College attendant staff.  All night security staff should have been adequately trained in these procedures either by a security staff manager or the Birkbeck Health and Safety Officer.  The member of the Night Security Staff who takes charge of the Malet Street reception desk becomes the ‘Emergency Co-ordinator’ and is in charge of directing other Night Security Staff  and liaising with the Fire Brigade and other persons as necessary. 

4.6 Duties of Fire Marshals
i) In an emergency evacuation, all Birkbeck staff are expected to provide assistance with basic fire marshalling. On hearing the fire alarm, all staff should leave their areas promptly encouraging others to also do so. Once outside staff should take up position by an exit and assist with crowd control by keeping evacuees moving well away from the exit doors in order to allow others to leave quickly and safely and the fire Brigade clear access. If another fire marshal is already at the exit staff should still help to keep evacuees moving along the pavements until well clear of the buildings. If evacuees are allowed to congregate close to the buildings the pavements will quickly become impassable and evacuees will be forced onto the roads and be at risk of injury from passing vehicles. Fire Marshals should not allow evacuees to re-enter any building until the leading fire brigade officer or the Birkbeck emergency coordinator has given the all clear.

ii) It is essential that all lecturing staff take their students out of classes promptly and once outside, take them well away from the buildings and do not allow them to re-enter until the all clear has been given. Any members of the academic staff who are not in charge of students are expected to assist with crowd control as detailed above.

iii) Zone Fire Marshals are appointed in almost all buildings.  In an emergency evacuation situation they have an extra duty - to quickly (60 seconds max) sweep their area of responsibility to check for trapped persons, disabled persons or persons who refuse to leave and then to report their findings to the Duty Controller.  It is useful for zone fire marshals to wear armbands during an emergency evacuation. All zone fire marshals have been issued with armbands and further supplies are kept at reception areas of College buildings.

iv) There are detailed procedures for evacuating library areas that are made known to all new library staff. In licensed bars and dining areas, customers are notoriously reluctant to leave their drinks/food behind in emergency evacuations - even when a fire is obvious. Persons using the 4th floor bar should therefore be allowed, if they insist, to take their drinks with them when required to evacuate the building despite the potential hazard of slips from spills and cuts from glass. In the 5th floor eatery it may be necessary to refund customers later or even allow them to take their food with them. Students using computer suites are often reluctant to leave the rooms and in addition to zone fire marshal checks, any member of staff passing a computer suite should check to ensure that all students have left but staff should not delay  their own evacuation trying to force persons to leave or argue with them.  Simply, try to recall who won't leave and report them to the Dury Attendant to be dealt with later..

v) Special arrangements have to be put into effect when it is necessary to evacuate wheelchair users, people on crutches, frail and/or elderly or heavily pregnant women from above or below ground floor level. Should a panic ensue, a person whose restricted mobility might unduly delay the evacuation of others up or down staircases may well be swept aside by the more able bodied. Accordingly, such persons should be evacuated horizontally (by themselves or by a colleague or a lecturer or member of library staff, etc) to a staircase landing and wait there while a message is sent ahead to the Emergency Controller (Duty Attendant) by the colleague, or a lecturer or member of library staff, etc to inform trained Birkbeck staff or Fire Brigade officers of the situation. The trained staff or the Fire  Brigade officers will then proceed to the relevant area and arrange an evacuation of the disabled person if indeed this should actually be necessary - by evac chair or lift (see vii & viii below). Whenever possible, a member of staff should wait with the disabled person to provide continued reassurance. If the staircase clears while waiting then those persons whose disability allows them to should start to ascend/descend at their own pace. On no account should any attempt be made to use any lift during an emergency unless a risk assessment of the prevailing situation has first been made by a competent person (see viii below). In any case, even the use of a lift designed to be more reliable in a fire situation would be reserved for persons with restricted lower limb mobility.  All staircase landings are protected by fire resisting doors. Accordingly, disabled persons and those accompanying them waiting there for assistance with evacuation are in places of relative safety.

vi) All persons with a disability (permanent or temporary) that may delay their recognition of the fire alarm or their response to it must have a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) prepared in consultation with them.  Birkbeck Health and Safety Services can provide advice and assistance to schools and departments with the preparation of PEEPS.  The evacuation of all students being taught is the responsibility of the lecturer at the time. All lecturers must be fully aware of the particular evacuation procedures for any disabled persons in their classes.

vii) Use of evacuation chairs. Only trained staff should take charge of an evacuation chair and
should observe the following guidance. If the evacuee is much heavier than the operator that use of the evac chair will be very difficult or impossible.  In such a case - send for assistance, prepare for evacuation then wait for help from more staff or the fire brigade.  In all cases a second person will be necessary to operate/assist with the chair to:
a) open any doors ahead of the chair.
b) help with a little extra push/pull when cornering tight staircases
c) give an extra push/pull when/if the chair sticks on corrugated mats
d) give an extra push/pull anywhere else e.g. with a heavy person in the chair
e) provide reassurance/reminders to the operator
f)  take over from the operator if necessary
d) provide reassurance to the user
e) keep anyone un-necessary out of the way

viii) Use of lifts for emergency evacuation
Some Birkbeck lifts have design features that should make them more reliable for use in an emergency evacuation than a normal passenger lift.  However, no such use should be made even of these lifts without a prior risk assessment by a trained and competent person of the prevailing situation at the time i.e. how serious, close etc is the threat. 

5. Fire Instructions and Information

5.1 Fire Instructions
i) Birkbeck's fire instruction notices on what to do if one finds a fire or hears the fire alarm are posted in prominent positions in corridors and staircases in all College Buildings. It is a Fire Brigade requirement that a copy of the instructions be posted close to each fire alarm call point. Birkbeck's fire instruction notices are printed white on a blue background since blue is the designated EC colour to indicate mandatory action. Birkbeck staff and students working or studying in non Birkbeck buildings should familiarise themselves of the instructions pertaining to those buildings. These will also be posted in corridors and staircases near 'call-points'.

ii) Birkbeck's instructions to persons discovering a fire are to:
1) Operate the nearest Fire Alarm
The Duty Attendant at Malet Street will be automatically notified and will immediately summon the FIRE BRIGADE.
2) LEAVE THE BUILDING by the nearest exit. Do not use the lifts.
Do not attempt to extinguish the fire unless you have been trained in the use of fire extinguishers and are confident that you can do so safely.

iii) Birkbeck's instructions to persons hearing the fire alarm are:
1) LEAVE THE BUILDING promptly by the nearest exit.
Do not delay to collect any belongings, make telephone enquiries etc. Do not use the lifts
2) MOVE WELL CLEAR of the building once outside.
3) DO NOT RE-ENTER the building unless told that it is safe to do so by the Duty Attendant or an officer of the Fire Brigade.

iv) The expected response of staff in office areas when they hear the alarm is to leave the office, close the door, make their way to an exit and assist with crowd control as a basic fire marshal. Staff working in laboratories or workshops should make safe whatever equipment they may be using by switching off gas, water or electricity etc., and then leave the area close the door, make their way to an exit and assist with crowd control as a fire marshal.

5.2 Assembly Points
Evacuees are instructed in 5.1,iii,(2) above to move well clear of the exits once outside the building. No particular assembly point is mentioned in the College's fire information. This is because the College occupies a number of sites and many do not have easily identifiable areas for occupants to assemble that are sufficiently clear of the buildings. Assembly points are usually intended to be used to carry out head counts of evacuees to determine whether personnel are present or missing. It is not possible to carry out such an exercise at Birkbeck since there is no way of knowing all those who were in any building before an evacuation commenced. Birkbeck therefore relies on its instruction to evacuees to move well clear of the exits in any direction.

5.3 Fire Information
i) All new students should be informed by their tutors of the fire safety arrangements as part of their induction to Birkbeck. Where it is not obvious, fire instructions stating the nearest fire exit route are posted in classrooms. 

ii) Groups hiring College Premises. All hirers of Birkbeck rooms are provided with fire information and instructed to convey this to their delegates. However, the track record of hirers passing on fire safety information to their delegates or providing leadership in evacuations is poor. Accordingly, all available College staff must be prepared to act as basic fire marshals and assist with the evacuation of groups hiring accommodation within the College.

iii) Fire safety information for distribution to students and visitors is available in bookmark formats from the Safety Office.

iv) The CHSO is available to briefly address groups of staff, students or visitors on fire safety at Birkbeck.

5.4 Use of Fire Extinguishers
The general rules for the use of fire extinguishers are that they should only be used after the alarm has been given and that no risks should be taken. Accordingly, no one should contemplate using fire extinguishers if they have not been trained in their use and they should also be confident that the fire has not gone out of control. Whenever possible two persons should tackle the fire - one to use the extinguisher and the other to keep an eye on the escape route. If any doubt at all as to competence or safety exists then the use of fire extinguishers should be left to the professionals - the Fire Brigade.

5.5 Frequently Asked Emergency Evacuation Questions
A web page containing answers to frequently asked questions on emergency evacuations can be found at:

6. Specific Emergency Situations

6.1 Bomb Threat.
i) Bomb threats usually take one of two forms. 1) Threats directed against the College; usually by a telephone caller. 2) Police warnings to the College; usually about threats to neighbouring properties. In either case the advice of the Metropolitan Police should be sought and/or acted upon. In general, if a building has to be wholly or partially evacuated because of a bomb threat the fire alarm is NOT sounded as occupants could unwittingly enter the danger area. Co-opted staff give verbal instructions to occupants starting with any threatened area then working down from the top of buildings. Occupants should be directed away from any declared danger area. As there is no way of knowing exactly which members of staff will be on hand at any particular time, all staff must be prepared to give such instructions to colleagues.

ii) Police advice to the recipient of a bomb threat call is to:
a) keep calm. Try and attract the attention of a colleague while taking the call and indicate the problem by a note or signal.
b) try to obtain as much information as possible especially details of the caller and which building or part of a building is involved (use the form in Appendix One).
c) immediately report the incident to a senior College officer and the police.

6.2 Suspicious packages.
Any member of staff who believes they have detected a suspicious package or a package with suspicious contents should:
a) leave it alone - do not handle to investigate it further.
b) clear and secure the immediate area.
c) dial 555 and report the matter to the duty attendant. The duty attendant will contact the emergency services and senior Birkbeck Officers and act upon their advice. They may also advise the person reporting the incident on further actions to take.
d) in reception areas, arrangements may have to be made to station staff at access points to direct people to other entrances and exits and routes through the building. As there is no way of knowing exactly which members of staff will be on hand at any particular time, all staff must be prepared to be co-opted to assist in this process.

6.3 Gas Leak.
i) Suspected gas leaks should be reported immediately to the College's Buildings Maintenance team via the 555 emergency number system. Meanwhile, staff and others who feel they may be at risk are at liberty to leave their area and move to an unaffected part of the building or leave the building completely. Appropriate members of the College's Buildings Maintenance team will investigate the reported leak and and then act in accordance with the procedures in 7.7 below ( Management of emergency situations). This may involve declaring the area safe or the necessity of partially or wholly evacuating the building. Based on this advice the College Secretary will take the decision whether to evacuate all or part of a building. If this is necessary, co-opted staff will give verbal instructions to occupants; starting at the top of buildings and working down.

ii) In any suspected gas emergency, the Duty Attendant should inform the National Grid Gas Emergencies (Formally Transco Gas ) - 0800 111 999 (This is a 24 hour emergency line), arrange for the affected parts or the whole building to be evacuated and call in the relevant maintenance engineer.

6.4 Power Cuts.
i) The College's Buildings Maintenance team must be informed immediately when it becomes apparent that there has been a power cut. The electrical maintenance staff or their managers will attempt to ascertain the cause and likely duration of the power cut and then act in accordance with the procedures in 7.7 below ( Management of emergency situations). Electrical maintenance staff and mechanical/plumbing maintenance staff must be on hand to reset electrical and air conditioning systems when power is restored.

ii) All buildings are equipped with emergency lighting (powered by self contained batteries) in stairwells and corridors that will last for three hours. Emergency lighting is provided to allow occupants sufficient light to leave the building safely in the event of a fire or other emergency combined with a power cut. Accordingly, while daylight lasts buildings can continue to be occupied but if power is cut-off during or has not been restored by night-fall then teaching will not be possible and affected parts of buildings should be evacuated; instructions being given via word of mouth by co-opted staff. The decision to evacuate will be taken by the College Secretary or in his absence, the most senior College Officer on site. The fire alarm systems are also have battery backup and will last for 24 hours on stand-by and one hour if bells are activated. Since the building can be evacuated in less than 10 minutes (the target is 6 minutes) there is ample margin for any delays that may be experienced.

iii) Loss of power can present a significant hazard if, for example, ventilation is being provided to a chemical process. Risk assessments should be undertaken locally on foreseeable situations and local procedures worked out to prevent
possible injury and minimise disruption to work processes. The Safety Office can advise if required.

7. Miscellaneous

7.1 Fire Drills
i)  The College Statement of Safety Policy requires the CHSO, as Fire Officer for the College, to organise a fire evacuation drill at each of the College's separate premises at least once a year.

ii) The CHSO organises a daytime drill in each building at least once per year at a time arranged with local safety coordinators and other key College personnel. If an unscheduled emergency evacuation has occurred that involved a large number of staff then no separately arranged drill may be necessary. Records of all fire drills and unintentional evacuations are kept in the Safety Office.

iii) The purpose of fire drills is to give members of staff experience in evacuation procedures and to expose any problems with engineering controls or the management of evacuations. Students are members of the public and it is not essential, nor practical, for all students to experience a fire drill. As long as all staff have received training and/or understood the information given to them then all students and visitors should be able to be led to safety in the event of an emergency evacuation.

7.2  Fire Prevention Policy and Fire Risk Assessments
i) Birkbeck has a fire prevention policy for its buildings.  See:

ii) The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which came into effect on 1 October 2006 requires all employers to carry out fire safety risk assessments of their buildings. The CHSO carries out such risk assessments for Birkbeck, regularly reviews them and maintains records of them.

7.3 Building Modifications
No modification may be made to the fabric or arrangement of the furnishings in any part of any building without due consideration of fire safety. Proposed changes which may affect a fire escape route may require the permission of local authority Building Control and/or the Fire Brigade which may allow or refuse permission for the change or impose conditions. The College Health and Safety Officer liaises with the safety section of the Fire Brigade and can advise on whether proposed changes are likely to require their permission.

7.4 Maintenance of Fire Alarm Systems
All fire alarm systems within the College are subject to regular inspection and maintenance by College Maintenance staff and contract companies.

7.5 Autodiallers
An autodialler relays a telephone message from a building in which the fire alarms have activated to Malet Street main reception. In this manner, the duty attendant can be alerted to problems in buildings that may not be staffed at certain times. All Birkbeck buildings are linked by an autodialler to the main reception.

7.6 First Aid
i) The College maintains a substantial number of employees with 'emergency first aid at work' certificates. It also has many 'emergency responders' (persons with basic emergency first aid training). An up-to-date list of all first aid personnel is maintained among the Safety Office web pages. This can be printed out and posted up as required.
First aiders can be summoned by dialling direct or via the extension number of a particular reception desk or by using the '555' emergency number.

ii) In emergency evacuation situations, all trained first aiders are expected to report to the duty attendant to enquire whether their assistance is required.

7.7 Management of emergency situations including arrangements for building closures due to loss of critical services, adverse weather, industrial action, etc.

i) Following any emergency situation becoming apparent a meeting of all available Estates & Facilities officers, the CHSO and other relevant staff, by telephone if necessary, will be convened.  The meeting participants will carry out an impact analysis and identify the actions required to operate critical business areas and establish cut off points where services, facilities or buildings can no longer be kept operationally open due to the emergency situation.  The recommendations of the meeting will be made to the College Secretary as soon as possible.

ii) The loss of certain building services such as power or the fire alarm system or emergency situations such as adverse weather, staff shortage, etc may dictate that for safety reasons buildings or parts of them can no longer be kept operationally open.  The decision on such matters will be taken by the College Secretary or in his absence the Deputy College Secretary or the most senior College officer available at the time.  The College Secretary will make his decision having received advice from the College Safety Officer and Estates and Facilities managers/officers. 

iii) In the event of any emergency situation it is expected that the CHSO and all available Estates & Facilities managers and officers will make themselves available to provide any assistance required for as long as necessary.  This expectation extends to staff being called back to work if they have left and, if possible to do so, even to return early from leave should the situation be serious enough to require their presence. 

Note that whilst emergencies and building closures are very rare, when they do occur the occupants understandably wish a good deal of explanation and reassurance.  It makes a considerable difference to have the visible presence of as many managers as possible for as long as necessary.  It demonstrates to staff the seriousness of the situation and that the relevant personnel are acting for the good of the College community. 

iv) The requirement for (i) & (ii) above shall not prevent College staff from taking immediate action to minimise what they determine to be a risk to College premises and/or occupants e.g. sounding the fire alarm or evacuating or restricting access to specific areas before reporting their actions to their line manager.


Taking details from telephoned Bomb Threat

1. Immediately alert someone else to the problem by note or signal but DO NOT put down the handset or cut off the conversation.

2. Try to keep the caller talking (apologise for bad line, ask him/her to speak up etc.).

3. Complete this form as you go along, asking questions in sequence if necessary.

MESSAGE (exact words):









Mark the details below that apply at the time of the call if possible
Man / Woman / Child / Old / Young

SPEECH: Intoxicated / Rational / Rambling / Speech impediment / Laughing / Serious /

Accent (foreign/local) / Message read out / Spontaneous

DISTRACTIONS: Any noise on the line / Operator / Call phone / Pay tone / Coins inserted /

Mobile Phone noises / Interruptions / Persons in background

OTHER NOISES: Traffic / Talk / Typing / Machinery / Aircraft / Music / Children / Other

Your Details: Name

 Telephone number on which call received:


Last reviewed: October 2013.

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Health & Safety Services, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX. Tel: 020 7631 6218, email: