A fire evacuation plan is an essential document that ensures the safety of those in the workplace.
It comes as a surprise that many people would not know what to do in the event of a fire or emergency. Did you know that less than 50% of building occupants feel confident of knowing what action to take and where to evacuate to during an emergency? (*)
So, ensuring that you have a clear and simple evacuation plan in place will make all the difference if a fire were to occur – giving you and others a grasp of control should the situation arise.
Creating a fire evacuation plan is also necessary in order to comply with UK Fire Safety Legislation. Many benefits express the importance of a fire evacuation plan, here are just a few:
Establish a clear team of leaders
When an emergency occurs, most people in the workplace will likely be in a panic to leave the building as quickly as possible. However, being in a rush risks the possibility that people could injure themselves or cause damage to the property in the process.
An identifiable team of responsible leaders, who can coordinate everyone into a routine and ensure the evacuation is orderly and safe, need to be at the forefront of an evacuation.
Generally, four main roles will be required:
- The main point of contact: This is a role that includes communicating with emergency services and is the person who decides when an evacuation should take place.
- First aid assistants: Any injuries that can be treated with a first aid kit should be treated on-site by a first-aid assistant. This helps keep people safe before emergency services arrive, and there should be several appointed first aid assistants at hand to help.
- Dedicated coordinator: When an evacuation takes place, the coordinator is responsible for completing the list of tasks, which include double-checking bathrooms and rooms for stragglers, and securing the site overall.
- Head counter: Head counters are responsible for making sure everyone is accounted for. If the workplace is large, it is recommended that you have several head counters, one for each department, that can report to a higher authority.
All workplaces will require each position, but one person can account for multiple roles within smaller buildings.
A designated location for evacuation
Every evacuation plan needs to clarify an outside meeting place where everyone in the building can go in the event of a fire. This detail will ensure everyone knows exactly where they need to be (and when) after an evacuation.
Staying in a group during the evacuation is crucial because it allows head counters to gain an accurate account of everyone who has left the building, also helping emergency services know whether there is anyone left in the building to rescue.
Simple, straightforward procedures
An outdated evacuation plan that hasn’t been reviewed for some time is not going to keep employees safe. Holding practise fire drills and regularly reminding everyone of the plan will help gain an understanding of exactly what they need to do during a real situation. A straightforward, up-to-date fire evacuation plan will encourage everyone to limit the chaos and cooperate with one another.
Keep calm and avoid chaos
If employees are unsure of their next move after an evacuation, they run the risk of entering ‘panic’ mode. This could cause everyone to act irrationally out of fear, causing more danger than necessary. An evacuation plan will set a clear checklist of what is required of everyone in the building, calming any anxiety and keeping employees calm and focused on getting out of the building safely.
Adapted for visitors
Not only should you consider your employees, but you also need to consider adapting your evacuation to suit the safety needs of your visitors. Visitors are going to be unfamiliar with the building, so a clear and precise evacuation plan is needed to ensure everyone understands the next steps during an emergency.
Make sections safe
Fire safety calls for clear pathways and unobstructed emergency exits to ensure everyone can evacuate the building safely. An evacuation plan requires everyone to be calm and collected – so if numerous pathways are obstructed the entire process will be slowed down. Consider whether any hallways need lightbulb replacements or if there are insufficient first aid kits at escape routes that need to be refilled.
Keep your evacuation plan up to date
As we mentioned previously, an outdated evacuation plan is useless to those who need to follow it. An evacuation plan is an essential part of an organisation’s risk assessment and it is something that needs to be updated or reviewed every time there is a change to your building, whether that be additional employees or to the overall structure.
A fire evacuation plan will have different elements, depending on your business or building. Each will have its unique requirements, and it should consider all necessary factors in a way that is safe and easy to follow.
Installing smoke or fire curtains can help protect escape routes from being damaged by heat and prevent the spread of fire and smoke throughout the building. Coopers Fire can install fire or smoke curtains in your building to make the whole process safer and easier to follow. Get in touch with us today to find out more.