Your emergency plan needs to be tested and you can do this by running a fire drill. Ideally, this should be carried out every 6 months, particularly if you have new staff joining.
Staff require training on the emergency procedures and the fire drill will confirm their knowledge.
The typical aims of the fire drill can include:
- Reinforce procedures to new employees
- Find potential weaknesses relating to the evacuation strategy
- If any practices or procedures have occurred, this will test them
- Test procedures for disabled people and others who may be on short term contracts
Who should be involved?
Fire drills should be run at times when most people are on site. Drills to cover various shifts including night shifts should be run. If appropriate and safe, include members of the public for added realism.
Running a fire drill
Where a specific building has more than one escape route, the evacuation procedure must allow for the evacuation of occupants on the basis that one of the exits or stairwells is inaccessible due to fire or smoke. To achieve this you can have a staff member blocking the exit. This encourages people to take routes they would not normally take.
When carrying out the drill it may be useful to:
- Circulate information concerning the fire drill and inform all employees of their obligation to be involved. 'Unexpected drills' may be counterproductive in some cases for safety reasons
- Appoint observers
- Ensure that work equipment can be safely left / left running
- Inform the alarm monitoring company if the fire-warning system is monitored (if the fire brigade is normally called directly from your site, make sure that this does not occur)
- Notify all visitors and members of the public if they are on site
- Ask an employee to set off the alarm by operating the nearest alarm call point using the test key or similar device
More detailed information on fire drills and test evacuations is given in appropriate British Standards.
Carry out a roll call as soon as practical at the signed assembly point(s) alternatively, receive reports from trained fire marshals designated to ‘sweep’ the premises. You need to note any people who are unaccounted for. In a real evacuation this data will need to be passed to the fire brigade when they arrive.
As soon as the roll call is complete or all fire marshal reports have been received, let people return to the building. If the fire-warning system is monitored by a company, inform them that the drill has now been completed and record the outcome of the fire drill.
Monitoring and debriefing of the drill
As part of any fire drill, the responsible person and other 'observers' should focus on;
- Difficulties in communication regarding the roll call and confirming that everyone is accounted for
- Use of the nearest available escape routes as opposed to routes used for general circulation
- Problems encountered by people with disabilities etc.
- Roles of specified people, e.g. fire marshals
- Inappropriate actions, e.g. collecting personal items and trying to use lifts
- Doors and windows not being closed as staff leave their areas.
Immediate debriefs are an excellent way of involving all people and this should be supplemented by formal debriefs including reports from fire marshals, observers and the responsible person. Conclusions should be collated and lessons implemented.
Our dedicated fire drill training course is uniquely designed for staff who have fire drill and evacuation responsibilities within the workplace. To book our fire drill training course, please call 0800 216764. Alternatively, complete our contact form for more details.