The Phase 1 report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommended that premises information boxes (PIBs) should be provided in all high-rise residential buildings. The report also concluded that PIBs should include various information that will be of value to firefighters during an emergency; this is called the Emergency Response Pack (ERP). The ERP should include:
Up-to-date floor plans; an oriental plan; a building layout plan showing internal layout; a simple layout plan displaying water supplies for firefighting equipment; a simple layout plan showing facilities of relevance such as lifts intended for use by the FRS
Information about any lift intended for use by the fire and rescue services
A logbook for recording events associated with the PIB
An ‘Off The Run’ notice that details any non-operational fire safety equipment
A summary of useful information for the FRS
Information regarding residents with mobility, cognitive or sensory impairments
Any significant safety issues associated with the building such as compartmentation, EWS or other fire safety issues that could cause fire to spread through the premises at a faster rate
An evacuation strategy detailing the current situation, e.g., the stay-put strategy/simultaneous evacuation
The Fire Industry Association also recommends providing up-to-date information to aid the emergency evacuation or rescue of people with mobility, cognitive or sensory impairment by the fire and rescue service [this was not a recommendation of the Grenfell Inquiry Report].
Who is responsible for managing the Premises Information Box?
The accountable person who manages the building in question for the organisation is responsible for the PIB; this responsibility includes:
Providing the information for the ERP
Ensuring information is up to date through a regular review process
Where should the Premises Information Box be located?
The Fire Rescue Service (FRS) would need easy access to the PIB in the event of a fire. Therefore, the strategic placement of the PIB is essential. The box should be located at the entrance of the premises where the FRS is most likely to arrive; if the location is not particularly obvious, it should be decided in conjunction with the FRS. The accountable person will need to ensure:
They are satisfied that the FRS can access the PIB appropriately at the PIB location
That the PIB is near to other equipment that the FRS may use in the event of a fire
That the PIB is operational and functioning with ease of access at all times
If located outside, the PIB is in a sheltered and well-lit place
That directional signage is in place if necessary to assist the FRS
That the PIB is placed at least 1.4m above floor level to account for the FRS crew wearing protective equipment. If there is a circumstance where there is a risk of vandalism or unauthorised access, the box must be no more than 2.5m above floor level so that the FRS can reach it using a small ladder
That the PIB is firmly bolted to the building structure as per the manufacturer’s instructions
What security should be considered for the PIB?
A PIB will contain personal and sometimes sensitive information regarding a building’s residents and their personal information therefore, the Accountable Person should ensure appropriate care is taken to prevent unauthorised access or vandalism. The Accountable Person will need to ensure that:
The PIB manufacturer can demonstrate that the PIB meets all of the security specification recommendations
That there are protocols and agreements in place with the FRS for the chosen PIB and access system
That personal information in the ERP complies with GDPR requirements, meaning that the PIB must have a working locking system, associated hardware, fixings and substrate type. Management of the key or code system must also be in place. The key and/or code policy must be in accordance with BS 7984-1:2016 Part 1: General recommendations for key holding and response services. It is important to note that loss of key or compromise of code could result in a security breach, therefore the Accountable Person must have a system in place to notify the PIB manufacturer of any such breach.
What signage should be used for the PIB?
There is a specific requirement for the PIB signage, this entails the words “PIB for Fire and Rescue Service Use Only”. The wording should use the Sans Serif font, on a red background, with a lower-case letter height of at least 10mm. The sign should include the pictogram specified for fire-fighting equipment in BS 5499-10. The sign should be metal or traffolyte construction and should be fixed to the door of the cabinet by rivets, 4 security screws, or by security adhesive. See below for a depiction of the appropriate signage
How should the PIB and ERP be maintained?
The Accountable Person needs to ensure that the PIB is maintained and inspected by a competent person so that there is reduced risk of faults in the instance of a fire. This maintenance must take place on a decided schedule so that faults are promptly actioned. The Accountable Person will need to ensure:
That the person carrying out works on the PIB for maintenance services can access the PIB while conforming to BS 7984-1:2016 Part 1: General recommendations for key holding and response services so that information in the PIB remains secure.
That supplier-provided maintenance instructions are followed and that maintenance of housing, locks, seals and fixings are carried out at regular intervals
There are recommended review processes that include:
o In the event where the PIB contents are used, the accountable person needs to ensure that the contents are replaced immediately and can be accessed going forward
o A physical check on the ERP within the PIB, checking that all documents are present and protected with appropriate lamination or plastic wallets
o Checking the housing of the PIB to ensure that the locks, seals and fixings are in good condition with no damage or degradation
o Checking the data against any changes that may have taken place in accordance with the residents mobility, cognitive or sensory impairments.
o Review ERP information to ensure that it is accurate in accordance with resident information, and adequate in scope and detail.
Premises information boxes will save lives if they are used in accordance with legislation. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions regarding PIBs or ERPs. With years of expertise and a NEBOSH-trained team, we are happy to assist you with all aspects of setting up and maintaining PIBs.
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