As a direct result of our previous Newsletter highlighting that it took staff 20 minutes to evacuate the building at 125 London Wall following a fire alarm on the 12th January 2023, Lloyds carried out a controlled fire evacuation on 29th March 2023. The result was exactly the same. The absence of trained fire marshals resulted in staff taking longer than permitted to get to the stairwell and then out of the building. As we said in our previous Newsletter, if there had been a real fire, the consequences of such a delay could have been devastating.
The bank said the main reason for the delay: “was due to large numbers of colleagues walking past or away from their closest exit, resulting in congestion in a single fire exit stairwell ‘Core A’, closest to the lift and entry/exit gates”. Blaming staff for the delay is simply unacceptable. Trained fire marshals would have got staff to the nearest exits and out of the building as quickly and as safely as possible.
In our recent survey, 86% of members said that they didn’t support the bank’s decision to remove fire marshals. 71% said that being in a Lloyds building with trained fire marshals would make them feel safer.
The bank’s decision to force staff back into 125 London Wall, and other buildings across the Lloyds estate, for two days a week is going to make things much worse. Members are telling us that with the closure of Old Broad Street for refurbishment, 125 London Wall is rammed most days and that’s only going to get worse over the next few months. In the event of a fire, and the absence of fire marshals, getting to a stairwell in 125 London Wall is going to take longer.
Members will recall that Lloyds announced that it was getting rid of its fire marshals with effect from 1st January 2023 with the support of its in-house puppet unions – Accord and Unite. According to the new policy, it’s everyone for themselves when it comes to getting out of a burning Lloyds building.
What’s happened at 125 London Wall over the last few months should demonstrate – even to those senior executives in Gresham Street with tin ears, the importance of fire marshals. If there had been fire marshals in January and March, staff would almost certainly have got out of the building quicker. That should be the bank’s only priority.
Lloyds needs to revisit this issue again and reinstitute fire marshals immediately. The bank has been warned. In the meantime the person who made the decision on the withdrawal of fire marshals should identify himself or herself and explain the rationale: we don’t get it and neither do most staff. Senior Executives are always keen to associate themselves with glossy spin – let’s have some openness and accountability!
Members with any questions can contact the Union’s Bedford Office on 01234 262868 (Choose Option 1).
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