When a fire breaks out in the workplace, it can be a terrifying experience, and there may only be minutes to ensure that everyone is evacuated safely and calmly. As well as understanding how to exit the building, employees and visitors need to be aware of where their assembly point is situated. When choosing an assembly point, it’s important to consider the location carefully.
Choosing an Assembly Point
The assembly point for an office building needs to be close enough to be easily accessible but far enough away that employees are a safe distance from the fire. Regulations state that the location has to be 50ft or more from the building. This will ensure that people remain safe, even if the building were to collapse.
The space also needs to be large enough to accommodate the required number of people. Larger office complexes may need different assembly points for the various floors and business tenants.
The location of the meeting point shouldn’t be in an area that could block access to the building for the emergency services. Car parks can’t be used, as these may be required by the fire service to tackle the blaze or for medical staff to treat injuries.
When you’re choosing a position, you also need to consider how it will be accessed. This will be included in your evacuation procedure. It needs to take into account where the emergency exits are and how a route could be affected by protection measures, such as fire curtains. You also need to factor in the panic that can arise during a fire. You should avoid having to cross roads, as this could be dangerous if people don’t think to look.
The route to the assembly point needs to remain unobstructed and be clearly signed, well lit and only use staircases if absolutely essential. If there might be problems for wheelchair users, you should ensure they have a safe location to wait, such as a space that is protected by fire curtains.
As well as a primary assembly point, you should also have a secondary location. This may be required if the first point can’t be used or accessed.
Spending time considering the ideal location for an assembly point and ensuring everyone in the building knows where this is could save time in an emergency situation. It may also make the difference between everyone evacuating the building safely or not.