15 May Fire Evacuation Procedures in the Workplace UK
There are an endless number of things that can happen when a fire threatens your employees and your business, and each of these things can have devastating impacts. Even though fires pose a threat, the risk is sometimes exacerbated by the turmoil and confusion that ensues when a business fails to take adequate precautions. Having a plan that complies with Fire Evacuation Procedures in the Workplace UK that is both thorough and practiced is the most effective approach to stop anything like this from occurring.
Your company will not only be ready for a fire breakout, but also for any other kind of emergency if you have a high-quality evacuation strategy in place. Provide your staff with the appropriate training for a fire evacuation so they will be able to get out of the building as fast as possible in the event of a fire.
Here is a 7-step approach that will guide you through developing a fire evacuation plan that will safeguard both your employees and your business.
This plan can be used whether your business is starting from scratch or is trying to improve upon your current evacuation processes.
7 Steps to a Better Fire Evacuation Plan
1. Imagine various situations
When creating an evacuation strategy for your business in case of a fire, the first step is to ask yourself some fundamental questions to investigate the key dangers your company may face.
Where might a fire happen?
According to Fire and Rescue Incident statistics, the FRSs responded to 518,263 occurrences in the calendar year that ended in March 2021.
This represented a decline of two percent in comparison to the previous year’s totals (154,180).
The decline in incidents that were attended this year in comparison to last year was driven by declines in each of the three main types of incidents: fires, non-fire incidents, and fire false alarms with some elements being affected as a result of restrictions that were imposed due to the pandemic.
According to the findings of several studies, the most prevalent reasons for fires in the workplace include malfunctioning cooking equipment, purposeful actions such as arson, and electrical faults.
How would they start and why?
Spend some time considering the various ways in which a fire could damage your business. Exists a kitchen on the property? Are they using portable heaters or personal refrigerators? Make sure you have a thorough awareness of the risks that could possibly impact your business in the event of a fire.
Establishing “house rules” about the use of microwaves and other kitchen appliances is vital because cooking fires are the most frequent source of damage to office buildings. Any type of cooking apparatus, including hot plates, microwaves, and others, should be outlawed.
What if “XYC” happens?
What would happen if ten refrigerated trucks carrying ice cream? What would happen if we had to leave our headquarters with little to no notice?
It is a smart move to compile a list of questions along the lines of “What if XYZ happens?” and your responses to those questions.
By working through many hypothetical situations in your head, you can develop a plan of action, which will assist you in bringing a fire that no one has ever imagined into the consciousness of your business.
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2. Define responsibilities
If a fire breaks out and the building needs to be evacuated, your company’s workers will look to the leadership for support and guidance. Establish a clear chain of command that shows who has the authority to order an evacuation.
The primary duties listed below should be taken into account for inclusion in your evacuation checklist. The chief fire warden will often conduct an additional head count, verify that all of the doors have been shut, and inspect the restrooms.
- The fire warden is responsible for ensuring that all employees are alerted via a mode of communication, that the fire brigade is called, and that reports are created. In addition, the fire warden is responsible for ensuring that any necessary reports are prepared.
- Guides for the evacuation routes – Guides for the evacuation routes have a crucial responsibility in ensuring that routes and passageways are clear and that the evacuation is calm and orderly.
- Fire extinguishers – Many individuals have the intention of “putting out the fire” by using a portable extinguisher. Never try to extinguish a fire if it has spread beyond its initial perimeter. In the event that you are unable to control the fire within thirty seconds, you should stop immediately, secure the door, and then evacuate the building.
- Monitors of the ground level. Floor monitors are the last people to leave the area after making certain that it is clear. They will have a certain area to maintain, be responsible for ensuring that all personnel escape, and then report back to the fire marshal once they have reached a safe location.
When it comes to delegating responsibilities, there are a lot of crucial things to keep in mind. In the event of emergencies, you will want to verify that your fireteam is dependable, that they are present, and that they are ready to respond promptly.
In addition to this, check to see that the fire marshals at your company aren’t disproportionately assigned to a single department. For instance, employees of the sales team are often more extroverted and willing to volunteer, however, you should still make sure that the responsibilities are dispersed throughout your business departments.
3. Determine nearest exits and escape routes
Your company should have both main and backup escape routes planned out as part of a comprehensive fire evacuation strategy. All of the evacuation routes and fire doors need to be well marked with signage. These exit paths need to be maintained free of any furnishings or other things that can get in the way of your employees’ ability to leave the building in a timely manner.
If you have a big workplace, you should create various fire safety diagrams and display them throughout the building so that staff may learn their escape routes.
The development of a separate plan for those with impairments who might need more help is recommended as an additional best practice.
What are the next steps for your employees after they have exited the building?
Determine a location where workers may congregate as a point of assembly. At this stage, the fire warden needs to be present at the meeting point, doing a headcount while also delivering any relevant updates. Last but not least, check to see that the exits and the location designated for meeting are suitable for the anticipated number of staff members who will need to evacuate.
4. Create a plan for communication
Designate someone such as the alarm responder whose main duty is to contact the fire brigade during a fire exercise. This person should also be responsible for relaying information to important stakeholders, such as workers and customers. Consider if your emergency communication strategy should also involve outreach to the community, participation from suppliers and interaction with government representatives.
Make a thoughtful choice while selecting your communication strategy. If the principal office is damaged by fire, it is possible that this individual might need to operate out of a different location in order to ensure that communication is timely and accurate. Its also a good idea to train reserves in order to have someone to fall back on in the event that the person in charge of communication cant carry out their responsibilities.
After you have determined who will play this crucial role, you will need to make sure that they have access to a reliable communication system. When there is a fire, the response might be highly hetic. People might not be able to access their usual modes of communication, they could overlook checking their networks, or the networks might go down entirely.
You should have the ability to contact building occupants at their primary and secondary ways of communication if you are able to send alerts via email, phone, text, and a mobile app. This will ensure that your communications are sent to the widest potential audience. Additionally, this enables you to get in touch with the fire brigade and other emergency responders in the shortest amount of time possible. In the case that any personnel have fled without their mobile phones, the leaders of the fire team should perform a manual headcount in order to confirm that all employees are present and accounted for.
5. Examine and familiarise yourself with your tools.
Ever taken the time in the last year to clean and examine the fire extinguishers in your office?
It is recommended that fire extinguishers should be replaced after 12 years if they are disposable and refilled every 10 years if they are reusable. In addition to this, make it a habit to provide your staff with regular reminders regarding the placement of fire extinguisher. Make a plan to check that all of the additional safety gear, including the following, has been updated and in working.
- Alarm systems
- Smoke detectors
- Lighting in case of emergency
- Fire doors
- Escape ladders
You should also educate your team on the value of typical office supplies in an emergency. In the event that there is a real fire, for instance, you can use filing cabinets and office desks to smash windows or batter down doors.
6. Rehearse your fire evacuation process
If you’ve children attending school, you are probably aware that the schools conduct “fire drills” on a regular basis, sometimes even once a month. Fire drills in schools
Because doing frequent rehearsals cuts down on confusion and shows children how a proper evacuation practice should be carried out, which, in turn, lessens their level of anxiety in the event that a genuine emergency happens. Students who are able to remain cool and who are prepared in the case of fire are more likely to contribute to a positive result.
The same strategy of learning via repetition has been shown to be beneficial for adults, according to research.
The key executives in charge of the company’s fire evacuation plan have to get together once per quarter and make plans for a yearly or quarterly rehearsal of the evacuation plan. You should consult any applicable local fire regulations for your establishment to make certain that you are in compliance with all safety standards and that emergency staff are aware of the escape strategy for your organisation.
7. Follow-up and reporting
Your company’s leadership must communicate and monitor real-time changes. It only takes a few seconds for a fire to spread, yet every second counts.
Obtaining updates from your workforce is made simple with the use of surveys. To determine who is safe, the fire marshal just needs to distribute a questionnaire that requests an up-to-date status report and then watch the replies. Most significantly, the fire marshal is able to observe who hasn’t reacted to the emergency and may then divert resources to help individuals who are in need.
Receiving reports from individuals who aren’t physically present in the workplace is going to be the most difficult obstacle you confront. There is always going to be at least one person absent due to illness or vacation. Since it is evident that these individuals will not be at the meeting point, you may begin to question whether they were able to escape the workplace in one piece.
Be sure to offer answer alternatives in your surveys such as “I’m not in the office this afternoon” to cover this and explain the situation to everyone else.
Event pages are a helpful tool for keeping everyone in a big company up to speed with information that is current at any given moment. This will provide staff members with a link that they may monitor for changes in real-time.
Other Fire Evacuation Considerations
Some special situations will vary from business to business, but don’t leave these out of your fire evacuation plan.
If you find yourself surrounded by smoke, get on the ground and crawl, taking small shallow breaths in and out of your nose. Because heat rises, the air closer to the ground is often cleaner and cooler.
Run the palm of your hand over the door handle to get a feel for it. If it’s hot, don’t open it. If it’s cool, crack it open just a little to see if there’s any intense smoke or heat. In such a case, you should remain within the room. Should this not be the case, find the closest exit and make sure the door is locked behind you.
Proceed to the closest stairs, exit, or emergency escape route.
When evacuating higher levels, the stairs, not the elevator, should be used at all times. In the event that the elevator shaft fills with smoke or the power fails, you run the risk of being stuck inside of it, which puts you in a dangerous situation and puts you in harm’s way. The majority of fire doors are constructed in such a way that, when closed, they will prevent smoke and fire from entering the stairway and will shield you from harm until you are able to exit the building.
- Include independent contractors and those working on a temporary basis in your strategy. In addition, remote employees may not be immediately impacted by a fire, however, it is still important for them to be informed about what is happening with the company and the people they work with.
- Be careful to make preparations for any unique requirements, such as employees with disabilities or other individuals who might need help to safely exit the building. It is essential to have a strategy in place for anybody who could be temporarily using crutches or a wheelchair at your organisation, even if you do not have permanently impaired workers on staff.
In the event of any catastrophe, these people could need special assistance and need special equipment such as an Evac Chair. Every year, you should revise your company’s emergency fire plan to include how many employees with any impairments who could need additional help in a fire evacuation, as well as the principal location of their place of employment.
- Workers who stay behind should be trained in methods that allow them to operate fire extinguishers, shut down important equipment, or conduct other necessary tasks. It is absolutely essential that you set stringent standards for when to discard this equipment in order to protect personal safety while you are working on creating these processes.
- Do you have important assets that you have the ability to quickly protect or evacuate the building? You should give some thought to putting important objects that are excessively cumbersome in a room that is resistant to fire or in a safe.
- If your company does not already have storage for sensitive data, you should make protecting that data an urgent priority. Any kind of company, regardless of its size, it would be wise to make an investment in a storage solution that is hosted on the cloud because of the comparatively cheap cost of cloud storage.
Fire Evacuation Procedures in the Workplace UK: FAQs
If there is a fire, what is the most important thing for an employee to do first?
The employees need to maintain their composure and promptly begin implementing the evacuation plan. Be careful to utilise the approved evacuation routes as you make your way to the closest designated exit, and pay attention to any further directions that may be given by your fireteam.
Where should maps and preparations for the emergency evacuation be posted?
Put up signs and display evacuation diagrams and maps in places throughout the building that are immediately visible to everyone. Posting evacuation plans at important areas such as fire exit doors and elevators helps to ensure that personnel are aware of the correct path to take in the event of an emergency. In addition, make certain that any evacuation plans and diagrams are maintained kept updated to account for any recent alterations that have been made to the working site.
What should we take if there is a fire?
Throughout an evacuation, everyone’s primary attention should be on getting away from the fire and to a safe spot as fast as they can. This is the most critical task during the evacuation. If a worker is able to quickly access their mobile device, they should bring it along with them so that they can keep updated and respond to status checks. Employees should never hang around to gather personal stuff.
Preparing to get ready for an emergency evacuation in case there is a fire?
You should practice regular fire drills, instruct and train your personnel, and develop a comprehensive strategy for the evacuation of the building in the event of a fire. For more information, please see Fire Drill Training for more information.
A Few Parting Thoughts
You have made significant strides in protecting both your workers and the assets of your business by putting a fire evacuation plan into action at your company. Please get in touch with us if you are interested in learning more about workplace fire safety and fire safety training courses.