As part of fire safety measures business owners are required by law to take, a fire drill should be carried out on a regular basis. This is an essential measure, as it ensures that all of a building’s occupants know where to go and what to do in case of a fire.
However, some businesses and organisations are neglecting to carry out fire drills altogether. Some of those that do have a semi-regular schedule of fire drills are not carrying them out properly. Here are the steps you need to take to conduct a proper fire drill:
1. Make sure the fire drill is unannounced so that it will be realistic and of full benefit. However you can inform department heads of the drill.
2. Trigger the drill by setting off the fire alarm
3. The designated fire marshals should start the evacuation of staff, as well as ensuring that all procedures (i.e. making emergency phone calls) are followed
4. Staff should evacuate to a pre-agreed assembly point, where they will be registered and counted
5. The evacuation should be timed and the time improved upon during every fire drill
6. A de-briefing process should take place after every fire drill
7. The drill should be repeated every six months or sooner if you have a rapid staff turnover
To learn more about how to carry out a fire drill, the best option is to undergo fire safety training. It is not just the designated fire marshal who should have fire safety training – managers and staff members can all benefit from it.
At the recent Birmingham Bursars’ Group Conference, representatives from West Midlands Fire Service addressed school business managers and reminded them of their responsibilities in relation to fire safety. The fire service also offered advice on how schools can improve fire safety awareness training levels and avoid common mistakes.
A number of key issues and tips were raised during the conference. School managers were advised to:
• Make everyone aware of who the ‘responsible person’ is. Apparently, in many schools not everyone knows who the person responsible for fire safety is, and some teachers and other staff members often try to shirk their responsibilities. If there is confusion over this issue, lives could be put at risk.
• Inform individuals and businesses surrounding school premises right away if a fire breaks out. Schools should have a method of contacting anyone who could be affected by a fire on school premises, especially in schools that are based next to major transport routes.
• Carry out fire safety risk assessments once a year or when anything changes significantly within the building. To keep on top of risk assessments, staff should undergo fire safety training and also carry out a monthly fire audit.
Every workplace needs at least one person that is trained in fire safety. This means a person, or a team of people, who have been on a fire safety in the workplace training course and who is able to act as a fire marshal in an emergency. On such a training course, the person would learn how to identify and remove fire hazards as well as what to do if a fire broke out.
There are three important reasons why each and every workplace in the UK, and indeed all over the world, needs to have a fire marshal. These reasons include:
1. Following the law. It is a legal requirement to have a designated person in charge of fire safety on the premises at all times, and this person needs proper training.
2. Protecting people and preventing loss of life. Without someone overseeing fire safety in a workplace, carrying out a fire risk assessment and identifying potential hazards, your office could be a very dangerous place in which to work. What’s more, if a fire breaks out, you need someone who knows what to do and where to go, as well as how to use emergency equipment.
3. Preventing damage to property and buildings. As well as protecting people, your trained fire marshal can also help to prevent damage to property. For example, a person with fire safety training will spot that combustible material has been left near a source of ignition (i.e. paper left near to an electrical device) and remove it, potentially preventing the whole building from going up in flames.
One of the most crucial things a business can do to ensure that all of its employees are safe in case a fire breaks out is to come up with and practice a proper evacuation plan. In an emergency, everyone needs to know where to go, what to do and who is in charge.
You will learn all about emergency fire evacuation plans if you take a fire safety training course, but there are some basics it would be useful to know in advance. For example, a good fire evacuation plan will include:
• Clearly marked escape routes throughout the building – these routes will be as direct and short as possible, so that people can exit the premises as quickly as they need to
• A clear passageway to each escape route – there must be no obstructions preventing people from accessing the escape route
• The right number of emergency exits and escape routes to allow all people to exit the building as quickly as possible
• A safe assembly point – situated a safe distance from the premises, where everyone will meet after they have exited the building
• Fire safety training – so that all staff know how to use the escape routes
• Emergency exit doors that open easily and aren’t obstructed or locked in any way
• Arrangements for people with special mobility needs.