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Fire Evacuation Procedures in the Workplace

fire evacuation drill

November 9, 2021 Posted by in Crisis Communications, Mass Notification, Other

Fire evacuation procedures in the workplace should be a top priority for business owners, but it often falls to the middle or bottom of the priority list. Fire may be one of the most dangerous safety threats to your staff, and can happen at any time, even if you are prepared. However, preparedness could be the strategy that saves life and property. That’s why an effective fire evacuation procedure in the workplace is so important. A staff that is prepared could be a staff that can survive such an event.

Often, without a plan, panic and chaos ensue. The best way to prevent this is to have a prepared, detailed, and well-practiced plan in place. In fact, a good, solid fire evacuation plan could also help your staff in other emergencies that would require them to leave the premises quickly.

Here are just a few considerations when planning your fire evacuation procedures in the workplace:

First, take an inventory.

Does your staff know what to do in the event of a fire emergency? Where may a fire most likely break out (the break room, or an electrical room, for instance?) Do they know where to go and how to stay in contact with you in case you are not on the premises? Do you have a mass notification system that can best help navigate your staff to safety and keep them informed? Are there any impediments to an evacuation that need to be addressed now?

Make a “what if?” list

Try to imagine every scenario that could happen and then figure out how an evacuation can happen from there. Keep in mind that an evacuation should take place with very little warning and should happen as quickly as possible. Of course, this is easier said than done, and will require regular drills, practice and discussion in advance. However, this action plan that comes from your “what if?” list may wind up saving lives. Think it through.

Assign roles and responsibilities 

In a mass panic, people often look to leaders. Have them ready in advance. Create a chain of command (and a backup chain if possible). This group could include floor wardens who are responsible for gathering the staff and getting them to the fire evacuation route, as well as guides who can help specific people along and keep them calm. Ask for a volunteer who can stay behind long enough to make sure that the last person is off the premises (a true hero!).

Plan your fire evacuation procedure. 

Your best bet for a good fire evacuation plan is to invite your local fire department to your space. Let them look around and make suggestions. They may even point out some impediments that may not have even occurred to you. Ask them about safety requirements. Make sure you plan both primary and secondary (alternative) routes. Post signs that lead your staff to exit routes and other fire escapes. Post a floor plan with a fire evacuation procedure clearly listed. Keep your hallways and stairs clear at all times.

Make sure your staff can locate and operate fire extinguishers. 

Not every fire emergency will be put out by a fire extinguisher, but it will only help that your staff can grab them and operate them if a small fire starts and can be prevented from spreading.

Be sure that your mass notification system is high quality. 

Look for a mass notification platform that specializes in helping you send mass messages in real time — at every stage of the fire evacuation procedure. Your technology should keep staff informed and safe at every stage of the emergency. The platform should be user-friendly, flexible and able to provide you with efficient 24/7/365 customer support. It should also offer world-class protection that keeps your data and business safe. Your platform should be reliable and fast, even if you are experiencing an emergency other than a fire, with two-way chat, polling and acknowledgements to let you know where you stand with your people at every stage of the crisis.

Having a tool that allows you to communicate with your staff through email, phone, text and other devices can get your urgent messages to the most people in the fastest way possible. You should also be able to alert your local fire department and other emergency responders with this technology (by programming their contact info ahead of time).

Bottom line

By giving thought to fire evacuation procedures in the workplace, you’re taking the proper proactive steps to help protect your staff and your business.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has an informative brochure on this subject. Click here.

Find out more about how RedFlag can help you during your fire evacuation. Click here.


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