The last thing most people expect to happen at work is a fire or any
other kind of disaster, but the truth is they happen on a regular basis in
offices all over the world.
A workplace can actually be a life-threatening environment if a fire
does break out. This is why company leaders and workers need to know how to
conduct fire drills the right way in the workplace.
One of the best methods to prepare everyone for a real emergency is to
schedule fire drills on a regular basis so that knowing how to safely leave the
premises is second nature to all involved.
Fire drills help workers to be aware of how to get out of the office in
the event of any emergency, such as a natural disaster or an armed intruder on
The art of repetition
The great majority of schools hold regular fire drills every few months.
These drills are repeated so frequently so that the routine actually becomes a
habit and in the event of a real emergency taking place children will know
precisely what they need to do without thinking.
Complacency can even lead to ignorance of basic safety knowledge such as
the location of fire exits. In some cases fire exit doors may be jammed or
partly blocked. Issues such as these will be exposed by regular fire drills.
Create a detailed plan
It is crucial to come up with a detailed fire evacuation plan before you
start holding regular fire drills. You will have to imagine the possibilities
of where a fire may start in your building, such as in the kitchen or
warehouse, or if your business could be at risk from natural events such as
wildfires during the summer months.
How to do it
Once the plan has been drawn up the next step is to make sure that you
have an established fire team who know what to do in order to ensure the
success of your fire drill.
It is also crucial that every employee is aware of why the fire drill is
important or you risk them failing to take it seriously.
The drill should be announced in places where it will be seen by all
employees and scheduled on your firm’s Google or Outlook calendar.
What are you hoping to achieve?
It is important to have clear goals that you want to achieve for a fire
drill. These goals and standards can then be improved upon in subsequent
drills. If it takes fifteen minutes for all employees to exit the building on the
first fire drill, try and find it why it took so long and take steps to reduce
that time on the next drill.
Measurable metrics include how long the evacuation took, how long it
took to report that the drill had been completed and if all equipment was successfully
Where to go
Every employee needs to be accounted for away from the building for a
fire drill to be considered a success. There needs to be pre-chosen rally point
at a strategic outside location. Several rally points may need to be selected
for big companies, with every point having its own individual fire team leader.
In the event an employee is not present, predetermined reporting protocols
should be followed and the whole fire team and authorities alerted.
Several employees should be selected to observe your fire drills. These
observers need to look out for issues such as large groups dawdling, people
using mobile devices, people choosing to leave via a less convenient exit and
if disabled employees find it more difficult to open doors or use stairs.
Get in touch with All Protect Systems today to discuss how they can
assist with the preparation of fire drills in your company that could save
You never know when an emergency will happen. This is why you have to plan in advance and have an emergency exit plan in place.
Simply having exit signs and an alarm system isn’t enough. People have to know what to do and who to follow when the worst happens.
During a time when it’s easy to panic, you’ll be glad to have a plan in place. By covering five key components, it’ll be easier for everyone to make it to safety faster.
Emergency Exit Plan Required
Before you think it’s not that important, know that the Ontario Fire Code requires buildings covered under section 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 to have a fire safety code in place. Without one that covers all necessary requirements, you could face hefty fines in the event of a fire or related emergency.
1. Sounding The Alarm
What happens when an emergency starts? Confusion is your worst enemy. The first key component of your emergency exit plan should cover the steps necessary to notify everyone of the emergency.
This includes sounding alarms and notifying local emergency personnel. Unless everyone knows there is an emergency, everyone can’t get out safely. The sooner everyone takes action, the quicker you can evacuate.
2. The Best Exits
Your emergency exit plan should include drills that help occupants learn the paths to the best exits for different areas and floors. If you have employees or occupants who often work in varying areas and floors, ensure they practice the drills in different areas and are trained on the proper exits.
One key part of this is to explain when elevators are appropriate and when stairs are the best option. After all, you don’t want occupants getting stuck in the elevator during an emergency.
Naturally, all exits should be clearly marked, making it easier to evacuate.
3. Evacuating Special Needs
All of your occupants may not be able to walk to the exits. For anyone with special needs, your emergency exit plan needs to have the proper evacuation procedures for those people. This is especially true in healthcare facilities.
You’ll also need to designate who is in charge of ensuring those people have a clear exit and know what to do in the event of an emergency. In most cases, you’ll have a leader, but all occupants and staff should be trained on what to do to help others.
4. Designate Leaders
In the panic and chaos, people need someone to follow. While everyone needs to be trained on the proper evacuation techniques, every area needs to have a clear leader in place. This can be a leader per floor, department or a set group of people.
These are the leaders who ensure the alarm has sounded. They know exactly how many people are in their area and where to send them in the event of an emergency. They’ll need to be specially trained on how to lead people and how to avoid panicking themselves during an emergency.
5. Controlling Fires
Sometimes, a clear exit isn’t available during an emergency. Of course, your building should have fire safety equipment in place, such as fire extinguishers. Your emergency exit plan must include details on the location of equipment and methods for controlling fires.
In extreme cases, this could be the single factor that helps occupants keep fires at bay until help arrives or clear a path to evacuate more people. This is also why multiple exit strategies should be put into place, if possible.
Post Your Plan
Most importantly, keep your emergency exit plan posted for everyone to see. Even with proper training and drills, panic may cause people to forget what to do. Plus, there may be visitors in the building who have no idea what to do.
Keeping this posted provides guidance, especially if occupants are separated from designated leaders.
While this is just a short list, we can help you with your emergency exit plan requirements. We’ll ensure everything meets the current Ontario Fire Code, install the plan and provide a fire safety plan box.
Image: Clem Onojeghuo