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Steps to Improve Your Organisation’s Fire Evacuation Plan

Introduction: Steps to Improve Your Organisation’s Fire Evacuation Plan

Poor evacuation planning can cause your business to suffer far greater losses than a fire itself. Investing in an improved fire evacuation plan will pay off in the long run, but can you afford to do so? Here’s a look at some of the steps you can take to optimize your evacuation strategy and save big on potential fire damage.

Imagine various fire related scenarios.

When it comes to fire safety, preparation is key. Just as a little precaution can make the difference between having a safe and successful evacuation of your organisation in the event of a fire and… well, not, so too can the process of preparing for such an event be the difference between you being prepared and you not.

We’re here to help. This guide will give you everything you need to know to prepare your organisation’s fire evacuation plan.

First, imagine various scenarios that could happen in your facility, including fires in various locations throughout the building.
Who would bring it to whose attention?
Who would call 000?
How would people be notified?
How many exits are there?
What if those exits were blocked or impassable? Would elevators be used?
How should people with disabilities be accommodated?

Next, designate specific tasks to specific people.
Consider who should report fires and how they should do it;
how the building should be evacuated;
who should maintain exit routes;
what equipment may need to be moved if an evacuation order is given; and even what time employees should arrive at work if there’s been a fire.

Once you’ve taken this information into consideration, it’s time to put it all together into a plan that works for your organisation!

Establish roles and responsibilities.

Establishing the roles and responsibilities of each person in an organization is the first step to making any emergency evacuation plan effective.
The following are the roles and responsibilities of each role:

Fire Warden – Oversees the development of the emergency action plan, implements and tests it, conducts fire drills, and provides training to occupants.

Deputy Fire Wardens – Assists with fire prevention, provides additional leadership during a fire emergency, and assists with training if necessary.

Emergency Team Members – Provides assistance during emergencies, including evacuations.

Building Occupants – Participates in fire drills and evacuations.

Determine escape routes and nearest exits.

Determine escape routes and nearest exits: Fire can spread quickly through a building, cutting off access to some exits, so it’s important to have at least two escape routes from every room in the building.

Make sure all employees are aware of escape routes and exits: You should periodically remind employees about evacuation plans. You may also want to hold a practice drill.

Take special precautions for people with disabilities: If any employees or visitors use wheelchairs or have other mobility impairments, you should develop an evacuation plan that takes into account their needs.

Identify an assembly point outside the building: When evacuating, everyone should move to that area and stay together. This will help you determine who’s absent and may still be inside the building.

Create a communication plan.

1. Evaluate your channels of communication

Your organization needs to know how to send and receive messages in the event of an emergency. This means taking a look at pre-existing communication methods and seeing if they’re up to snuff, as well as exploring additional options if they’re not.

For example, you may have a phone tree system where select employees are responsible for calling a certain number of other employees in the event of an emergency. A problem with this may be that some people don’t have the right phone numbers or are no longer employed by the company, so messages won’t necessarily get through. In this case, you may want to look into a system like Slack, which is designed for employee communication. Or maybe your office already has such a system in place, but not everyone is aware of it—in that case, it might be time to do some training on how to use it and why it’s important.

2. Look at any potential barriers to communication

In order for your plan to work, you need to think about what could go wrong. Imagine every possible scenario and try your best to prepare for them—it’s better safe than sorry! For example: if someone has speech impairment, or hearing loss? Think about naming someone to look out for those employees who might be hard of hearing or otherwise unable to hear alarms and sirens. Who will provide sign language interpretation? Do all your employees speak English? If not, who is responsible for translating messages?

Know your tools and inspect them.

If you’re like most people, you can’t remember the last time you checked your fire extinguisher—and that’s not good. When the time comes to use it, you may discover it doesn’t work, or worse, is empty or covered in cobwebs. You need to make sure your fire extinguisher isn’t expired and that it works as intended.

In addition to your fire extinguisher, you also need to keep track of your organisation’s fire suppression system. Make sure the system hasn’t been disabled for any reason, and have a technician visit at least once a year to inspect the system and its components.
Inspecting your tools regularly as per AS1851 is one of the best ways you can improve your plan.

Rehearse fire evacuation procedures.

When the alarm rings, it can be hard to know how to react. Should you run out of the building as fast as possible? Or should you take your time and calmly walk out?

Here are some easy steps to help make sure everyone knows what they should do if there’s a fire in your building:

A fire evacuation plan is a key part of any organisation’s safety procedures. But if you don’t practice it, how will your team know what to do? For most organisations, the best way to practice is by conducting a “fire drill.” Here are the steps to take:
First, pick a day and time when your building will be mostly empty. This makes it easier to get everyone outside at once.
Assemble your team and go over the plan. Make sure everyone understands what to do in case of an actual fire.
Next, have someone on your team play the role of “fire chief.” This person will act as though they have discovered a fire and will lead the evacuation. When they give the signal, everyone else should follow the directions in the evacuation plan. Have someone else on your team confirm that everyone evacuated safely. If people aren’t following protocol (for instance, if they’re going in an unsafe direction or ignoring safety procedures) make note of it so you can address it later.
Finally, get together with your team and discuss what went well—and what didn’t go well.
Make improvements so that next time goes even better!

Follow-up and reporting.

You can’t just have a fire evacuation plan: you have to make sure the plan works. This means scheduling regular tests and then providing a follow-up to those tests.

The most important thing you should do post-evacuation test is record where people were standing and whether there was an alarm or other notice of the evacuation test. If there wasn’t a notice, have someone go around and ask each person if they received the notice. If they didn’t, find out why not, and how you can fix it so that everyone gets the message next time.

Once that’s done, compare the results of your test with the ideal results: did everyone get out?
Did everyone get out in enough time?
Did everyone know where to go?
Did everyone know what to do?
Did it take too long for them to get there?
Did everyone actually follow procedure?

If you can, try to find out why certain things went wrong, even if it wasn’t anyone’s fault:
For example, if no one heard the alarm because of construction noise, try to figure out how you can solve that problem in the future.
If people took too long to get from point A to point B because they had trouble navigating the route or didn’t know where they were supposwed to go..

An effective fire evacuation plan will make sure that everyone is out of the building safely, and that any precautionary measures are already taken before a problem arises. By investing in the right strategies, you can save your business from potential destruction and its harmful effects on your company.

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Yours in Fire Safety

Alex

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