So, you have your fire risk assessment, your fire evacuation plans, your staff are fire trained and you have your designated fire marshals. But, how do you know it will all work effectively in the event of a fire? By holding regular fire safety drills!
A fire drill is an emergency protocol that every workplace must have. It’s the process of emulating the procedures you would undergo in the event of a real fire or emergency situation.
A major part of a fire drill procedure is evacuating staff from the premises. Upon sounding the fire alarms staff should evacuate the workplace in an orderly fashion, through fire escape routes and exits specified. Staff will then need to assemble at the correct assembly point whereby a head count and register should be performed to ensure each member of staff has been safely evacuated. For buildings with more than one fire exit, the fire drill should be performed whereby one fire exit is assumed as blocked due to fire. This will ensure staff use escape routes that they may not usually be aware of or use. Procedures that will need to be undertaken in the event of an injury or a member of staff having not evacuated should also be briefed to staff; this will include contacting emergency services, first-aid procedures and any other measures implemented as part of your fire evacuation procedure.
Why Perform a Fire Drill?
To start with, it’s a mandatory part of your fire safety procedures. But just as importantly is that it’s an opportunity to ensure your evacuation procedure is both up to date and effective. A fire drill will help you to assess whether the evacuation routes and procedures are effective in the event of a real fire. It will also help you to assess whether the exits are sufficient enough for the number of staff, and if one exit is blocked whether staff can safely exit from other routes.
It also allows the perfect opportunity to assess whether your employees are aware of where exits are, what procedures they should be following and whether they need to revisit their fire safety training. It is absolutely vital that every single member of a work team is fully aware of the fire escape procedure!
How Often Should There Be a Fire Drill?
You should perform a full fire drill at least once every year, during work hours when all staff are present. Results from the drill should be recorded and kept as part of the fire and safety evacuation plan.
Who is Responsible for Carrying out a Fire Drill?
In England and Wales, the person responsible for a fire drill is the employer, owner, landlord or occupier of business. Performing a fire drill is as important a part of a fire safety plan as having a fire alarm, and failing to convey the procedures of a fire drill is as dangerous as being completely unaware that there is a fire itself. If the employees in a workplace are unaware of what procedures to take in the event of a fire the results can be devastating. Even more so if your business is somewhere frequented by members of the public. Fire awareness saves lives; don’t take unnecessary risks in your work place.
How do you conduct a fire drill effectively?
A fire drill is a simple procedure, but there are various things you can do before, during, and after the drill takes place to make sure it is as effective and as useful as it possibly can be…
Before carrying out the drill it is useful to:
- Inform all employees that a fire drill is going to happen, providing them with specific details and also firmly letting them know their participation is required.
- If you work in large premises, or multi-location premises, nominate observers to assess the fire drill, paying attention to the appropriateness of actions, the behaviour of employees and any problems which may arise during the drill.
- Additionally, if there are likely to be any visitors present at the time of the fire drill you should also pre-warn them.
Throughout the drill, the ‘responsible person’ and any nominated observers or fire safety wardens should:
- Keep an eye out for any inappropriate behaviour, such as stopping to collect coats, bags and other personal belongings.
- Closely observe any difficulties experienced by people with disabilities, such as an inability to get out of an exit or get down stairs easily.
- Make sure employees are using the nearest fire escape route, rather than just the exit they are most familiar with.
- Pay attention to any difficulties experienced as a result of the chosen escape routes, such as doors being difficult to open or exits being blocked.
- Listen closely to the roll call taken once the evacuation has been completed, making sure everyone is present and accounted for and checking for any issues which may arise.
- Logs all details of the fire drill, including how the evacuation procedure went and any inappropriate actions or problems which were noted as a result.
- Any significant findings of the drill should be recorded within the Fire Risk Assessment and reviewed regularly as part of your workplace fire safety.
- Remedial action deemed necessary, such as the installation of additional fire safety signs or fire alarms, should be undertaken by a professional, reputable fire safety company.
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