An Assessment of Workplace Fire Safety Preparedness: A Study in Kenya Medical Training College Campuses in Eastern Kenya Region
Introduction and Background: Fire safety preparedness is one of the four steps of fire emergency management. Occupational Safety and Health Act Legal Notice No. 15 of 2007 of the Laws of Kenya dictates that every workplace should promote safety and health of the workers and any other occupants in the premises. Objective: The main objective of the study was to assess fire safety preparedness in KMTCCs in Eastern Kenya region. Methodology: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study using quantitative methods. The study was assessing the status of fire safety preparedness in KMTCCs in Eastern Kenya region using interviewer-administered questionnaires and observational checklists. Data collection was done in May 2013. The study targeted staff working in the KMTCC. Staff were stratified into academic and support staff, then 145 participants were randomly sampled proportionately. Results: Knowledge of staff on fire safety preparedness against OSHA, 2007 guidelines was low.Only48.2% of the respondents had adequate knowledge on fire safety preparedness. A statistically significant association between staff knowledge level and cadre was noted (χ2 =34.565; p = 0.000). Electrical faults were the most perceived fire hazard by 90.8% of the respondents. Majority (86.5%) of the respondents expressed the need for a basic training on fire safety preparedness. More than 60% of the respondents rated their fire safety preparedness level as below average. Most (83.3%) documentary items were missing across the institutions (i.e. fire safety preparedness policy document, copies with staff responsibility on fire management, evacuation plan, evacuation priority list, annual fire audit reports and fire drill reports).Most (84%) of the respondents had never been trained on fire safety preparedness. Fire safety committees as well as firefighting teams were also absent across the institutions studied. None of the colleges performed fire and safety drills. Majority (75.0%) of the buildings did not comply with the OSHA, 2007 building requirements on means of escape. Further, there was a statistically significant difference between the institutions and the availability of fire extinguishers (χ2= 10.791; p= 0.005), the availability of evacuation plans in the workplaces (χ2= 10.146; p=0.006) and the availability of sand buckets (χ2= 10.401; p=0.006). Conclusion: In regard to the study findings, most of the respondents had a positive attitude towards the need for a basic training on fire safety preparedness and there was perceived low level of fire safety preparedness among the respondents. Non- compliance to OSHA, 2007 guidelines on fire safety preparedness was attributed to failure to have fire safety committees in place, inadequate staff training on fire safety preparedness, unavailability of fire safety policy documents and failure to undertake annual fire audits and fire drills. The KMTCCs were non- compliant with fire warning and detection systems, and 75% of the buildings were non- compliant with route of escape requirements. Recommendations: In order for the KMTCCs to be compliant with the OSHA, 2007 guidelines on fire safety preparedness; the KMTC board of management should ensure that the OSHA, 2007 policy on fire safety preparedness is customized in the institutions. The principals should constitute fire safety committees, ensure fire safety preparedness policy documents are available and at least annual fire drills and fire audits are performed. All staff should be trained on fire safety preparedness and firefighting; fire safety preparedness guidelines should be observed in building construction. Further research is recommended to assess the hazard level in the institutions’ buildings, assessment of fire safety preparedness among the KMTCCs in other regions of Kenya and on the students’ level of fire safety preparedness.