Updating a theatre trust’s fire policies

The Miller Centre Trust

“Graeme gave a great deal of assurance that he knew what he was talking about. We were very happy with the result. In fact, I have just recommended him to another local theatre.”

Peter Shore, Chair of Trustees, The Miller Centre Trust

The Miller Centre in Caterham, Surrey, is best known as a theatre but is also home to a day centre club for the retired. The building is a converted church, originally built in 1872, which later became a school before being abandoned in 1975. Conversion to a theatre and day centre took place in 1977. The Centre is owned and licensed by the Miller Centre Trust.

Trustees Chair Peter Shore was familiar with Action Planning, having hired David Saint to carry out a fundraising training session for the trustees back in 2019. So when concerns arose that the Centre’s fire policies had fallen behind the times, Peter asked David if he could recommend an expert to update them. David put him in touch with Action Planning Associate Consultant Graeme Neale.

To revise The Miller Centre’s fire policy and the fire procedure and fire emergency evacuation plan, ensuring that they meet all the legal requirements and use the right terminology.

Andrew and Adam met online via Teams and spent about half an hour discussing the s

While the policy documents were very old, the Trustees had made a start on updating them, bringing the content up to date, so that Graeme’s task was primarily to check that they ticked all the legal boxes and were written in the appropriate language.

He began with a visit to the Centre, where he was able to see the building for himself and gain a first-hand understanding of the fire risks. He then took away the existing policy documents and carried out a complete rewrite to bring them in line with current regulations.

Graeme’s first iteration proved very useful in triggering some additional updates. The Trust showed his draft to the theatre and the club and they came back with some very useful suggestions, identifying aspects of the fire procedure that had become impractical and needed amending.

The fire policy and the fire procedure and fire emergency evacuation plan are now up to date, allaying any anxiety that the Centre might not be properly prepared to respond in the event of a fire.

Consultant’s insight:
​​​​​​​This was quite a straightforward brief – mostly desk work – but being able to see the place was really helpful. I just happened to be at an event in the South East so I arranged to drop in on my way back. It’s not essential to visit the site when writing these sorts of policy documents but I find it helps.

In a situation like this, the Trust is essentially saying, “These are the requirements we’re putting on you, the users, but how you fulfil those requirements is up to you.” So having the feedback from the theatre and club was really useful because it meant the policies and procedures could be less prescriptive in the detail and leave the users to figure out how best to implement them.

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