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Getting Involved – New Fire Marshall

We have a new Fire Marshall at our Shoeburyness Service!

One of our customers has become so involved with monitoring the fire alarm process that he has become an honorary Fire Marshall. Enjoying being involved in this process wasn’t always this way though.

The Service, in Southend-On-Sea, is a supported living service for people with learning disabilities, some of whom have complex needs and behaviours of concern.

One day during lockdown, the new Team Leader was completing fire checks at the Service. Notes on the fire alarm record sheet indicated that one of the customers was very noise-sensitive and the fire alarm caused him immense distress. Before lockdown, staff checked the fire alarm when the customer went to the day centre, but during lockdown it was difficult to manage.

It’s important for customers to feel comfortable with the sound of the fire alarm as it may go off when people are in the building.

Staff complete fire checks weekly for the safety of customers and staff, so to ensure that this customer was comfortable with the noise, they had to come up with a plan!

Michael, the Fire Champion, and the Team Leader wanted to involve the customer in the fire alarm process to see if that would help him become more at ease.

The next time the Team Leader was on shift she set the alarm off. The customer let her know that he did not like the noise. The Team Leader explained that she had to check the fire alarm to make sure it was working ok.

The following time the Team Leader set the alarm off, she asked the customer if he would help her. He said he would, so she gave him the fire alarm folder, and they went around the Service together. The Team Leader pointed out all the automatic doors closing and checked that they were all shut. When the customer came back to the fire alarm panel the Team Leader showed him how to turn it off.

Each time the Team Leader tested the fire alarm, she involved the customer. She told him that he was doing a great job and he could take on the role as Fire Marshall with staff member, Michael.

Staff ordered the customer a fire helmet. He was really pleased and told his sister. She was so happy that she bought him a hi vis jacket to go with it!

Michael, along with team member Yvette, made the customer his own folder, which staff write in to say he has completed the fire check with them.

An engineer came to service the fire alarm. The team involved the customer, and he wrote in his folder that he helped with the service.

Here’s what Michael had to say:

Having experience of being a Fire Marshall in my previous role, I volunteered to undertake the duties. It soon become apparent that one customer really disliked the weekly fire alarm test.

I wanted to involve the customer in the fire alarm process which centred around allowing him a level of control over the process and raising his resilience towards this weekly process.

At first, he was a little reluctant to turn the alarm sounder off but has been engaging with it over the past few months with some pleasure.

Yvette and I created a document in a folder for the customer to have ownership of and when we now set the alarm off the customer brings his folder along with his hi vis jacket and his new fireman's helmet.

The customer now seems to look forward to the weekly test and takes his responsibilities quite seriously, telling his family quite proudly about his duties. Whilst it is clear that this customer still dislikes the noise it appears that his fear of the alarm sounding has diminished.

- Michael, Support Worker and Fire Champion