The Fire Warden Programme of the National Fire Academy of Cambodia (NFAC) was unveiled this week, with the first batch of trainees getting a dose of important knowledge about fire safety and related matters.
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The programme comes after the launch of Cambodia’s new national fire system code revealed in September last year. Among other things, the new code mandates that every establishment with a fire risk needs to have a fire warden.
Establishments include hotels, restaurants, schools, factories, telecommunications facilities among others. The bigger the establishment, the more fire wardens they are required to have.
“This covers most establishments, except for single-family domestic dwellings,” Andrew Wallace, director of compliance and consulting at the National Quality Inspection Centre for Fire Systems (NICS), said in an interview. Wallace was there to direct and supervise the training programme.
The designated fire warden can be any staff of the establishment who will have the responsibility to handle emergency situations and operate items related to fire safety.
“A waiter or anyone in the establishment can become a fire warden. What they need is only additional training,” Wallace noted.
Among the specific responsibilities of a fire warden, according to Wallace, are raising the alarm in the event of a fire, evacuating occupants of a building to a place of safety and fighting the fire.
“They are the first line of defence against fire and related emergencies,” he said.
The inaugural training session at the Himarawi Hotel involved more than 50 people representing some of the top business establishments in Cambodia, including Total Cambodge, Kampuchea Tela, The Bridge, Hong Kong Land, Smart Axiata, Archetype and others.
The course content includes the role and responsibility of the fire warden, understanding the principles of fire, fire hazard classes, recognising emergency situations, risk management, evacuation, fire prevention emergency equipment, fire extinguisher proficiency, fire drills, building fire safety codes and compliance.
The training also includes practical exercises on handling fire safety equipment.
The training was conducted by lead instructor Gary Kidd, who has more than 20 years of experience in the fire safety business.
After the completion of the course, the trainees received certificates, making them the first certified fire wardens in Cambodia.
Wallace said they are planning to hold similar training every week.
Before that the NFAC conducted a five-day course for people in the fuel industry.
The NFAC and companion National Quality Inspection Centre for Fire Equipment (NICE) were launched together last month as the first such facilities in Cambodia. These are under the management of the General Commissariat of the National Police and operated by the Cambodian Fairwind Enterprises Co Ltd.
The two centres are intended to improve fire safety and prevention in a country where fires are a common problem. These two facilities are seen as very important with Cambodia’s real estate industry in the middle of a boom.
Fires are common in Cambodia, especially during the hot and dry months that start in March and end four months later. Two weeks ago, several business establishments around Phnom Penh, including garment factories and a gas station, were destroyed by fires.
“Fire safety, prevention and rescue have become a big thing at the moment with so much construction going on here,” said Wallace.