Depending on the type of business you’re operating, the Ontario Fire Code requires you to hold fire safety drills at various intervals. According to the type of occupancy, the frequency of fire drills for supervisory staff can vary from each month to annually. The frequency and scope of your building’s fire drill procedure must be fully documented in your fire safety plan and be reviewed periodically as your building structure and usage change.
While the code requires regular fire safety drills for the supervisory staff, it does not always require the building occupants to participate. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t encourage the participation of all your building’s occupants. Let’s discuss five of the benefits of fire safety drills which include your building’s occupants.
Learn by doing
While verbal commands, diagrams, memos, and signs are all helpful in getting your building’s occupants prepared to deal with an emergency, nothing compares to learning through experience. Most people learn a process best by performing it, and while evacuating a building may seem like a simple task, during an emergency, it can be a harrowing experience.
The fire horns are designed to be annoying to force the building’s occupants to leave the premises, but the noise and lights also cause anxiety levels to rise. When under stress, people don’t usually make good decisions. When your occupants have practiced exiting the building while the horns and strobes are going off during a fire safety drill, they’ll be much calmer and confident about it during a genuine emergency.
Fire safety plans and evacuation routes are developed before the building has been put to use. It’s all too common that hallways get cluttered with excess furniture, and emergency exit doors can get obstructed by deliveries or outgoing trash.
Of course, the periodic visits from the Ontario Fire Marshall can be a sobering reminder to keep your escape routes open and clean, but he may not get there before a real emergency. If you hold fire safety drills with your building occupants, problems with your evacuation schemes become apparent during the exercise.
Fire alarm testing
While the fire code already requires periodic testing of fire alarms, testing them during a building evacuation provides even better feedback. When the building is fully inhabited during a normal operating situation, the ability of the fire alarm notification appliance devices (horns, strobes, and voice) is put to the test. They must get the attention of all of the building’s inhabitants wherever they may be.
If there are gaps in the coverage of the alarm systems notification network, the building inhabitants can notice this during your periodic fire safety drills. Encourage everyone involved to let you know if they experienced any delay in realizing that the alarm had gone off.
Most businesses are frequently making changes to the way it uses building spaces and staff turnover is often high. One of the many benefits of fire safety drills that include all of the building occupants is that you realize what parts of your fire safety plan have become obsolete and need adjustment. Encourage the occupants to look for problems with all aspects of your fire evacuation scheme.
Depending on the occupancy of your building, the fire code may require all of your building’s staff to participate in a fire safety drill at least once per year. You can research the code yourself, contact the Ontario Fire Marshall, or check with the fire safety experts at All Protect Systems to find out the requirements for your business.