Modern technology and technological advancements have enabled us to develop reliable tools capable of sounding the alarm when necessary, in cases of emergency. The fight against fire is above all a fight against time, emergency alert systems as well as outdoor warning systems are what help us get ahead of the fire and, bring people to safety in time. With the primary purpose of such emergency systems to effectively alert the individuals at large both outdoors and indoors, there is no more necessary tool to equip your building with than an effective, up to date, alert system for the best protection possible. Fires can be facilitated by a range of things from natural disasters, gas leakages, release of toxic products to faulty equipment or just simple human error.
A well-organized fire drill is based around a couple of elements, warning individuals of the incoming danger, guiding said individuals towards the various evacuation routes with precise instructions and clear signs, ensuring everyone has left the premises and lastly, verifying everyone’s presence at the assembly point making sure to report anyone who happens to be missing or injured. A proper preparation will allow for the evacuation plan to be executed perfectly.
The Aim of A Fire Evacuation Drills
The principal goal of a fire evacuation is to bring all occupant of an area or building to a point of safety. This can be achieved in one of two ways:
– Directing everyone outside to an agreed upon assembly point
– Or, by leading everyone to a safety zone such as a high rise building or a hospital for example.
Organizing regular fire drills enables your personnel to get informed on what will be required of them along with getting accustomed to the circumstances they will be facing in order to feel prepared when or if confronted with an actual emergency. Ultimately, organizing regular drill will help staff:
- Recognize the fire alarm signal,
- Know their role in the event of a fire,
- Become aware of the various evacuation routes
- Help them get familiar with the safe assembly points
Who Does What?
To prepare to face an emergency, the building will be divided into areas with each areal being assigned to an “evacuation team”. Each team will be made up of a guide as well as someone who will assist said guide. The team as a whole will be in charge of making sure evacuation routes and emergency exists stay unobscured on a day-to-day basis. Completing drills regularly will help better prepare staff to be reassuring as well as give clear and precise instructions regardless of their role.
The Responsibilities of Evacuation Guides
- Have a permanent and up to date list of the people present in their area of responsibility
- Lead a group of people out of their zone following the previously agreed upon and rehearsed routes, to head towards the assembly point and remain there until it’s safe
- Conduct a census of the evacuees as well as missing individuals
- Coordinate the smooth reintegration to the workplace
The Responsibilities of Assistant Guides
- Inspecting the area (offices, locker rooms, washrooms etc.) to ensure no one has remained on the premises
- Prohibit anyone who might try to backtrack from doing so
- Close the doors of the concerned premises
- Inform the evacuation guide(s) of any and all information gathered as well as confirming the premises are empty of all occupants
The Responsibilities of Everyone Else
- Evacuated the premises immediately after instructed to do so
- Follow the guide and respect the instructions given to them by the evacuation team as a whole
- Close doors behind them
- Refrain from anything that might worsen the fire
Tips for Assigning Roles
Picking the right evacuation team is no simple task, guides and assistant guides should be chosen carefully. Although typically systematically designated managers are not always the best choice, especially if their duties require them to be absent from the premises frequently. Particular attention should be paid to employees with strong leadership skills and the ability to make decisions under high levels of stress.
Furthermore, we strongly recommend you provide the designated evacuation team leaders with some theoretical training pertaining to the procedure to be taken as well as practical training on what course of action to take in the event of a complication such as lack of visibility, fire in the stairwells and corridors and more. This can be achieved through short tole playing exercises.
Special Cases to Note
Blocked By the Fire
- Close all doors and windows
- If at all possible, block the door with wet rags
- Move towards a source of fresh air
- Report your presence to the emergency services
- In case of smoke get down to the ground
In Case of A Fall
- Do not move the person injured, do not cover the injured person or make him or her drink
- In the event of a fracture (or suspected fracture) make sure to hold the fractured limb still
- Do not move the victim if there is any doubt about the integrity of the spine
- In general, avoid any type of manipulation
- Respect the position taken by the victim
- Alert the evacuation coordinators immediately
- Wait with the victim until help arrives
In case of electrocution
- Protect yourself before intervening
- Wait for the authorities with the proper training to intervene and de-energize the installation
- Protect the victim from the effects of the current
Some Final Thoughts
In conclusion, everyone should be reminded of the evacuation instructions and rules a few weeks before the exercise (training must of course be given to newcomers whether they’re interns or new hires). Moreover drills should cover, the composition of the evacuation team(s) that will take charge on “D-day”, the conduct to follow in case of an evacuation and lastly, the location of the safety instructions.