Course 5 Safe Member Service

Safe Member Service

Core Competencies in Member (CCMS) service constantly emphasizes that visible presence is the principal role of a member service officer. CCMS also insists that member service officers work with, and complement, security personnel. There is one exception to this rule:

Fire response.

Member service officers play an important role with respect to providing safety services, and especially hazards associated with fire, because they will often be present to respond to safety issues. Security personnel may provide a constant presence, but this is not the same as visible presence: security personnel will often need to be elsewhere during a routine duty shift.

This is Course 5 of Core Competencies in Member Service.

CCMS 5 learners are not expected to put out fires. They are expected to learn basic rules and roles about fire alarms and alarm response. This information saves lives. We will start with fire alarm and suppression systems.

Fire Alarm & Suppression Systems

The Fire Triangle

Fires go out when one part of the triangle is removed. Every fire requires…

  • Fuel
  • Oxygen, and
  • Heat

Community specific post orders should authorise member service officers to ONLY call 911.

Fire Types

Fire types and fire suppression methods are closely related. There are five fire types. These are based on the fuel source:
A – common combustibles, such as paper;
B – flammable liquids/gases, e.g., kerosene;
C – Electrical equipment with a current;
D – Combustible metals, such as sodium or potassium;
K – “Kitchen” fires fueled by oils and fats













Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are sturdy metal barrels that put water or another smothering agent under pressure. Depressing a level on top of the barrel blasts the water or smothering agent from a nozzle. There are eight types…

  • Clean Agent
  • CO2
  • Dry Chemical
  • Dry Powder
  • Multi-Purpose Dry Chemical
  • Water & Foam
  • Water Mist
  • Wet Chemical

It is very important to use the right type of extinguisher. The five types of extinguisher are A, B, C, D, and K. This chart summarizes what extinguishers work on which fires:

Class A fires consist of ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, fabric, and most kinds of trash. They may be extinguished by water, wet chemical suppression, or dry chemical powder.

Class B fires whose fuel is flammable or combustible liquid or gas. These fires follow the same basic fire triangle (heat, fuel, oxygen) as ordinary combustible fires, except that the fuel in question is a flammable liquid (e.g., oil or petroleum), or gas (e.g., natural gas). A solid stream of water should never be used to extinguish Class B fires: it can spread the flames and scatter the fuel.

Class C fires involve electrical equipment.  This sort of fire may be caused by short-circuiting machinery or overloaded electrical cables. Always assume electricity is live when trying to contain an electrical fire. Use a special extinguisher using carbon dioxide (CO2) or dry chemical such as “Purple-K.” 

Class D fires involve combustible metals, especially metals used in batteries. These alkali metals pose a significant hazard because people are often not  properly prepared to contain the fires they cause. 

Class K fires involve cooking oils used in commercial kitchens. A special class K extinguisher will safely smother the fire by turning the oil into a foam. A solid stream of water should NEVER be used: it can cause the fuel to scatter, spreading the flames. Appropriate fire extinguishers may also have hoods over them that help extinguish the fire. Sometimes fire blankets are used to stop a fire in a kitchen or on a stove.

Fire Alarms

Many modern alarm systems also automatically suppress fires, most commonly using overhead sprinklers.Water is not always the most effective way to suppress fires.

Most modern buildings require built-in systems to monitor and suppress fires:

A control panel monitors inputs, controls the output (sirens, lights, bells, etc.) and sends information (to fire departments or central stations). These are common in most commercial buildings.

Control panels differ widely. Some control panels will affect other building systems — elevators may return to their base floor, sprinklers may go off, certain doors may lock, and so on. See also below, Transmitters.

The primary power supply powers the fire alarm system, including the control panel. The secondary power supply provides power if the primary power supply shuts down.

Initiating devices are devices such as manual pull stations or detectors (smoke, gas, CO2) Notification appliances include flashing lights, strobe lights, horns, bells, or speakers. Building safety interfaces include exit lighting, magnetic door holders, or duct smoke detectors.

Transmitters. Alarm output is often called transmission. Sometimes a simple detector, such as a smoke detector, is an alarm system — it senses smoke (input) and sends an alarm (output).

Smoke detectors usually transmit locally (a local alarm), but many are programmed to transmit to remote or central stations.
Annunciation. Alarm output is also described by the message it sends. Common types of annunciation are…

  • Audible alarms, such as sirens or bells
  • Visible alarms, such as coloured rotating or flashing lights
  • Digital warnings, such as messages received on a monitor or tablet

Much depends on local fire codes.

Wet Sprinkler Systems

Many commercial properties are required to have sprinkler systems installed. Sprinkler systems are a network of pipes, usually overhead, that lead to sealed sprinkler heads dotted along a ceiling.

Sprinklers typically turn on automatically when the temperature rises above 70° Celsius (about 160° Fahrenheit). Some sprinkler systems are designed for all sprinklers to go off. Other systems may limit sprinkler activation to a single location.

Smoke Detectors

There are two different ways to detect smoke:

  • Ionization, which senses the presence of smoke particles, is common in homes.
  •  Photoelectric, which uses a light beam to detect the presence of smoke, detects smoldering fires sooner than ionization detectors.

Ionization detects flame fires sooner than photoelectric. The National Fire Protection Association recommends both types of smoke detector for home use.


Ethnic communities generally, and certainly Jewish communities, often deal with hoax threats. Even a hoax causes chaos.

Chaos is a threat all by itself.

Member service officers are less likely to receive (and respond to) threats than security personnel. MSOs and security personnel must always treat threats seriously.

Every threat has two principal goals:(1) To inconvenience personal routines, and(2) To disrupt business activities

Bomb Threats

Most bomb threats are made by persons who want to create general anxiety and panic. There are probably four types of people who make bomb threats…

  • Pranksters
  • Unhappy current or former employees
  • Upset family members
  • Professional Agitators

It’s unwise to assume who makes such threats against Jewish communities.

Touch nothing associated with a bomb threat —

Bomb Threat Response Procedures

Community Specific Post Orders include the Emergency Measures Plan. Member service officers have a single role to play here: ensure the personal welfare of people in the community.

Was there an explosion? If so, CALL 911.

Suspicious Packages

Find & Report

Member service officers and the general public may find and report something they think is suspicious.

Member service officers are not authorized to decide either the seriousness or credibility of a threat.

Member service officers MUST consider every suspicious package as an improvised explosive device (IED). Paper bags, envelopes, backpacks, briefcases, and toolboxes are potentially bombs unless proved otherwise.

The easiest way to prove this is to ask if the item belongs to somebody in the community — and it almost certainly does. Ask the individual to collect the item and store it appropriately.

If the item is ownerless…

(2) Start a building evacuation

(3) Ensure the building is empty

(4) Await emergency responders and direct them to the location under threat

Searching For (or Discovering) Suspicious Packages

If you see anything suspicious while maintaining a visibile presence, note it.

Follow this procedure:

Do Not Touch It. This is unsafe — and you may destroy evidence.

Do Not Use Radios or Mobile Devices. Electronic signals may detonate the device.

Leave The Area Slowly. Conduct access control procedures to ensure no one else may enter the area.

Report The Matter. Contact 911

Elevator Emergencies

Member service officers respond to elevator emergencies only indirectly. Every response must be noted in the memo book.

The principal goal is to ensure personal welfare by…

(1) Contacting the elevator company

(2) Checking in regularly with those trapped

(3) Determine if anyone trapped is claustrophobic, asthmatic, anxious, unwell, or injured

(4) Unless otherwise specified, contact the elevator company again to

(a) Update them on the welfare of those trapped, and

(b) Obtain an ETA

(5) Ensure required medical attention is on hand after the trapped occupants are freed
Building Evacuation

Evacuation procedures are found in the Emergency Measures Plan.

Panic is a very real threat during building evacuations. Member service officers must conduct the evacuation calmly and in an orderly manner. Member service officers must…
(1) Remain calm and professional

(2) Give clear instructions that cannot easily be misunderstood

(3) Encourage people to walk rather than run — this reduces panic and stress and encourages people to remain calm and social

(4) Prevent overcrowding evacuation routes. Evacuation routes will be listed in the Community Specific Post Orders.

A building is evacuated for fire, bomb threat, hazardous materials spillage, and gas leaks.

Member service officers may give a verbal report to an incident manager and other emergency responders so that they know how many people are still on-site (if any), and, also the last known location of everyone on-site.

Many buildings have practice drills. Member service officers must become well-drilled in dealing with evacuation scenarios. Stay safe and be well in these strange times.