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Fire Safety Drills

Once you have ensured that your work place meets the requirements of the Fire Safety Act, you will need to put your fire evacuation routine to the test. Knowing your fire evacuation routine is absolutely necessary, but just knowing doesn’t necessarily mean that it is effective or practical. There is no room for mistake whatsoever when it comes to a fire in your workplace. If either you or any member of your staff makes a mistake during a fire evacuation routine, the results will be dire. So, how do you ensure that you and all your staff understand your fire evacuation routine? More importantly, how do you know your fire evacuation routine is effective and will save lives? The answer is a Fire Drill. Fire Safety At Work

What is a Fire Drill?

A fire drill is an emergency protocol that every workplace must have. A fire drill is the process of emulating the procedures whereby you would evacuate a building in the case of a fire or a similar emergency. It involves the simulation of a fire or emergency situation, often with the inclusion of fire-alarms, emergency lighting and other facets of your workplace’s fire safety equipment. Part of a fire drill procedure is the evacuation of staff from the workplace. Upon the sounding of the fire alarms staff will orderly evacuate the workplace in an orderly fashion, through fire escape routes and exits as specified. Staff will then need to assemble at the correct assembly point whereby a head count and register should be performed to ensure each member of staff has been safely evacuated. For buildings with more than one fire exit, measures should be practiced assuming that one exit may not be available due to fire. This will also encourage members of staff to use escape routes that they may not usually be aware of or use. Procedures that will need to be undertaken in the event of an injury or a member of staff having not evacuated should also be notified to the staff; this will include the contact of emergency services, first-aid procedures and any other measures that you have implemented as part of your fire evacuation procedure. At the end of the fire drill, staff will need to re-enter the workplace in an orderly fashion.

Why Perform a Fire Drill?

Firstly, it is a mandatory part of a fire safety routine. Secondly, it’s the perfect opportunity to ensure your fire evacuation routine is effective. By performing a fire drill you can assess whether or not your evacuation route and procedures will be effective in the event of a real fire. By performing a fire drill, you are essentially re-enacting a real life fire scenario. In doing this you will be able to identify weaknesses in your fire escape procedure; for example, are your exits sufficient enough for staff to escape easily and safely? Or, in the event of one exit being blocked, can you and your staff escape from another exit? It is also a good way to assess your staff’s knowledge of the fire escape routine. If your staff isn’t fully aware of the fire escape procedures; such as fire exits, assembly points and where alarms and equipment to tackle fires are, there is a much greater risk of severe harm coming to you or your staff. It is absolutely vital that every single member of a work team is fully aware of the fire escape procedure. A fire drill is also a fantastic way to test the working order of your fire safety equipment. Obviously, when it comes to fire safety equipment such as extinguishers and panels, it isn’t wise to test them during a fire drill, as this could affect the working order of the equipment if a real emergency were to occur; but equipment such as fire alarms, sprinklers and lighting are provided by a fire drill the perfect opportunity to assess their effectiveness and working order. Any problems that are identified in your fire safety equipment during a fire drill should be tended to immediately, that way, if an emergency situation occurred, you can be rest assured that your equipment will perform to its required level to ensure the safety of your work team.

How Often Should There Be a Fire Drill?

Fire drills should take place at the very least once a year. Results from the fire drill should be recorded and kept as part of the fire and safety evacuation plan. Fire drills should take place during work hours with all staff present.

Who is Responsible for Carrying out a Fire Drill?

In England and Wales, the person responsible for a fire drill in the workplace is the employer, owner, landlord or occupier of business. Basically, if you have the highest degree of power in a workplace, you are responsible for ensuring a fire drill takes place. Though the arrangement of the fire drill is the responsibility of the more senior members of staff, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the fire drill takes place and that any issues and problems are reported and dealt with in the appropriate way. Performing a fire drill is as important a part of a fire safety plan as having a fire alarm. Regular fire drills are vital to the fire awareness of the staff in a workplace. Failure to convey the procedures that should take place during a fire is as dangerous as being completely unaware that there is a fire itself. If staff in a workplace are unaware of what procedures to take in the event of a fire the results can be devastating. Unawareness of emergency evacuation procedures can result in serious injury, even death. So ensure that a regular fire drill takes place in your work place so that the risks are reduced to a minimum. Fire awareness saves lives; don’t take unnecessary risks in your work place.   Photo credit: MedEvac71 via photopin cc

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