All businesses and organisations need to take their fire procedures seriously and must have policies in place to ensure the safety of staff and visitors. This includes identifying the person responsible for fire safety who will need to carry out regular risk assessments, put in place appropriate safety measures and ensure there is a clear set procedure should a fire break out.
The extent of any fire evacuation plan will depend on the size of the business and its location within the building. The procedure should cover a wide range of circumstances and give clear guidance as to what needs to be done but the result is always to evacuate the building as safely and quickly as possible. This includes:
- An implementable fire safety strategy.
- What people should do when they discover a fire.
- What people should do if they hear a fire alarm.
- Identifying the key escape routes and communicating clearly where these are.
All buildings should have easy to access escape routes that are as short as possible and properly signposted. In an evacuation plan there must be enough exits and passageways that mean everyone can escape the premises in the shortest possible time.
The procedure should also make sure that areas like emergency exits and fire doors are regularly inspected and maintained so that they are easy to open and function as they should. The same goes for emergency lighting, this should be tested and inspected regularly. Frequent training such as fire drills should ensure that all staff know which exits to use and how to leave the building safely. Planning includes designating a clear area for staff assembly outside of the building so that a head count can be undertaken.
A fire procedure should also include planning for those with mobility issues, for instance if an employee or visitor is in a wheelchair, so they can, if required, be assisted to exit the building quickly and safely.
If you have staff or members of the public who are not likely to be familiar with the layout of the building, then posting a schematic plan of the area is important as are clear signs to exits. An evacuation plan can vary considerably depending on the size and complexity of the building. For a small building, for example, it’s relatively easy for staff and visitors to evacuate quickly to the designated assembly area outside.
For larger buildings, there may be the need for a phased evacuation starting with those closest to the fire outbreak. In properties that have large numbers of people, for example a cinema, the evacuation procedure could start with silently informing the relevant staff, so they can be in position to assist an orderly evacuation before the main alarm is sounded.
Choice of Assembly Points
A pre-arranged assembly point is vital in determining that everyone has been able to get out of the building and is safe. The choice of location should ensure that it can be easily accessed and be far enough away from the building to keep people safe while also allowing access by fire crews and other emergency vehicles.
The assembly area needs to be large enough to accommodate both staff and visitors safely and everyone should be able to disperse easily and not have to pass by the building to get out. You might also want to take into consideration bad weather as many staff will have left the building without collecting their belongings, so some form of shelter would be good if possible. Finally, it’s important to choose a backup assembly point in the eventuality that your primary one cannot be used.
If you require assistance with any of the safety features mentioned in this article then please get in touch, we are always happy to advise. Call us on 0330 6600264 or email [email protected]
Until next time… stay safe!