Fire drills in the workplace – a quick checklist
Commercial buildings must perform regular fire drills as part of their health and safety regulations. It helps to keep everyone on track should a real fire occur and it is crucial to identify any potential faults or dangers with existing evacuation plans, allowing time to adapt if necessary.
There are a number of different elements to remember when carrying out a fire drill, so to help you run your drills more efficiently we’ll pulled together a quick checklist:
Before a fire drill
As fire drills are more about testing the efficiency of the route and helping people to understand their part, giving notice is important element so everyone recognises what to expect and what their role might be. Without giving notice, people might not follow their responsibilities to the letter. The more regular the drill, the more effective everyone will be, resulting in a more organised approach should a real fire occur.
You should always make sure there is an adequate number of trained fire wardens on site. Fire wardens not only help occupants to leave the premises, they also carry out the necessary checks to ensure the fire drills run smoothly and can highlight and document any potential issues with the evacuation process. The more fire wardens, the more efficient the fire drill.
Particularly in schools, but also in offices and workplaces, you should ensure you have a printed register on the day of the drill to make sure you have everyone accounted for. If anyone is missing you can quickly check on the list to see whether they perhaps don’t work on that day or if they were already absent, before going back into the building to find them.
During the fire drill
Carefully observe people’s actions as they exit the building to highlight any potential issues moving forwards. Make sure people aren’t collecting any belongings, are quick to exit, and that there aren’t any issues with their exit routes; including checking all fire doors are easily accessible. Fire wardens should be positioned throughout the building to ensure they can effectively observe everyone and everything.
There should be ample fire doors to exit the building and people need to be aware of their nearest fire door in order to leave the building as quickly as possible. It’s important everyone knows their nearest fire door to prevent being in the building longer than necessary. Ensuring all fire doors are used within a drill also helps to check they are all still in good working order.
Be sure to pay specific attention to anyone who might have mobility issues. Make sure they have a clear and safe route with adequate time to exit the building.
Now everyone has exited the building, it’s vital that you use the register to tick everyone off the list. With larger organisations and schools, you may find individual registers for each team/class help to identify people more quickly and efficiently. Time is of the essence at this point in case you need to re-enter the building to find someone.
This should only be initiated by a trained fire warden. You should not re-enter the building until the fire alarm has stopped, necessary checks have been made, and everyone has been cleared to return to the building.
After the fire drill
It’s important to document each and every fire drill, including any positive or negative results. These should be documents ASAP after the drill to ensure any findings can be remedied.
Using your results, you should take time to assess the fire drill and see if there is anything you could do to improve the evacuation process.
If there are indeed ways to improve the process; such as any hazards, failures, or issues with mobility, make sure you resolve them immediately. Fire can strike at any time, so you need to be ready!