As a business owner, you should already be aware of the fire safety requirements linked to the company premises, especially if you run a busy office.
However, as you’ve probably not encountered a genuine fire drill, consider if you and your staff are fully prepared should one be required.
Practice drills are often viewed as an inconvenience by your team, disrupting the working day and forcing them out of the cosy office. However, it is a necessary step for running a company and all employees must participate.
Therefore, it’s best to tackle the issue head on and start organising fire drill practises throughout the year. Here are seven tips to help you get going.
Create a Routine
Ideally, fire drills should be organised two or three times per year. Set the dates well in advance so you’re fully prepared. For new members of staff who’ve missed the latest drill, walk them through the process so they don’t miss out.
Although there’s an argument for performing a spontaneous drill so you’re replicating a real fire, this may cause unnecessary panic and negate the benefits of practise in the first place. Let staff know specific details beforehand so they behave appropriately.
Know Your Exits
Signpost fire exits clearly and advise staff how to leave in a calm, composed manner. For larger offices, assign specific exits for separate groups to alleviate crowd pressure. Also specify the final meeting point outside the building.
Appoint a Coordinator
Assign fire marshals to act as guides during the drill. They will remain at the initial exit points, advising staff where to go and ensuring no-one is left behind. Additional fire safety training may be required.
It’s your duty to provide means of exit for all building inhabitants, including wheelchair users and the disabled. Check out the official government regulations concerning this here.
Complete Roll Call
You should know exactly how many members of staff are present when the drill is taking place. When they convene at the meeting point, take a register so you know everyone is safely out the building. Maintain a visitor log-in book to assist with this.
The main reason for performing a fire drill is to iron out mistakes that can affect the evacuation process. Ask your marshals to observe bad practice,
highlighting if someone uses the wrong exit, goes back for personal belongings or has trouble opening doors, for example.
The post-drill assessment is a vital aspect of the procedure. Any significant faults or errors should be recorded within your Fire Risk Evaluation and amended during the next drill. Ask staff for their input where necessary.
Although they aren’t the most desirable way to spend an afternoon, fire drills are a vital part of your overall safety responsibilities. When combined with effective smoke ventilation measures, they can save lives should a real emergency take place.
Further advice can be found with the Fire Safety Order of 2005, published by the government to help SMEs create a safer working environment.
Good smoke ventilation is required in non-domestic buildings to ensure statutory guidelines are met and to avoid potentially severe penalties. You can find out about the smoke ventilation systems we offer and get more information here.