Every workplace should have a fire evacuation plan in place to ensure every employee, regardless of their age or physical or mental ability, can escape the premises quickly, calmly, and easily in the event of a fire. But the thing about evacuation plans is that even the best plan will fail if it isn’t practiced regularly. And that is what a fire drill procedure is for.
Routine fire drills help ensure that your employees know how to leave the building and where to assemble once they are outside. It is the most important factor in helping to maintain control and order during a situation that could easily spiral into chaos.
Here are some tips for how you can conduct fire drills at your workplace.
Step 1: Create Your Evacuation Plan
Your evacuation plan needs to be as detailed as possible and should contain multiple exit routes from your workplace. It also needs to clearly outline whatever actions your employees need to take to get to the designated gathering point.
Keep in mind that a fire can occur anywhere inside, or even outside of, your office, so you need to have a plan to address all manner of potential fire locations. Communication also needs to be a core component in your evacuation plan. Depending on the size of your company, an emergency mass notification system may be recommended. This type of system sends out alerts in multiple languages, so all employees, including those not on-site, can be informed about the fire quickly.
The final component in your plan is to designate your gathering point. This spot should be away from the building where all your employees can safely gather, so an accurate head count can be performed by the employee designated as the fire drill leader.
Step 2: Provide Fire Protection Training to Your Employees
Once your evacuation plan is created your next step is to train your employees to properly introduce them to fire safety and what to do in the event of a fire. Take this time to go over the evacuation plan in full and prepare them for an upcoming fire drill procedure.
Never conduct a surprise fire drill before first training your employees or this will cause mass panic and result in nobody following your evacuation plan. Inform your employees in advance before organizing your first fire drill. Determine what your goals for your fire drill will be and share them with your employees. Creating such goals and measuring the results will help you identify how well your evacuation plan works. Sharing these metrics with your employees will help them feel more involved with the process and help ensure that they take the fire drills seriously.
Step 3: Rehearse the Fire Drill
Before having your first official fire drill, you should rehearse it. This will help prepare your fire safety team and employees for the real drill. By first rehearsing it, you and your fire safety team will be able to better identify and understand any potential weaknesses. During these fire drill rehearsals, you can routinely change the variables, so your team and employees will know how to react during different scenarios.
During the rehearsal, place neutral observers at various points in your evacuation route. These people should not be those in your fire safety team. Their sole role is to observe the entire drill from start to finish, and to help you identify any loopholes in your plan or incidences of non-adherence to it by employees.
Practice Makes Perfect
Routine fire drills are an essential part of your office fire safety strategy. They are designed to ensure the safety of your employees in the case of a fire and to help improve your response to such situations. They need to be taken seriously by everyone in your company.
Eventually there will come a time when a surprise fire drill, or even an actual fire, will occur. How well your employees are trained and prepared for that day will be instrumental in your success.