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The Ultimate Fire Drill Guide

A fire drill is an integral part of any commercial or industrial building’s fire safety plan. Drills are legally required to be carried out regularly, but what does a full scale fire drill include? This fire drill guide should cover all you need to know.

Why are fire drills necessary?

Being a legal requirement, fire drills are necessary for a number of reasons. Running a fire drill allows employees to become familiar with an evacuation routine, with the aim being to make evacuation simple and efficient. Without regular fire drills, staff won’t be able to follow fire safety procedure, which increases risk during an emergency evacuation.

Drills will also highlight any improvements you might need to make to your fire safety plan. This could include improving access to evacuation routes, getting rid of clutter in the office, or perhaps the need for more fire wardens. Running regular simulations gives you chance to iron out any issues and perfect your evacuation plan in a controlled setting. This leaves you as prepared as possible in the event of an emergency.

How often should a fire drill be?

Legally, you should perform a full fire drill at least once a year. However, this could change depending on how you company operates, or following the results of a fire risk assessment. Businesses that operate on shifts will likely need more than one drill a year, to ensure all employees take regular part in the practice.

Who is responsible for a fire drill?

Overall responsibility of an effective fire safety plan falls to the manager or owner of the building. The organisation of a fire drill will fall to your company’s fire warden, who works with their superiors to ensure regular fire drills are carried out.

The warden will record evacuation time, note any issues which occurred during the drill, take a roll call once everyone has safely reached the allotted assembly point, and begin re-entry once they are satisfied the drill has been completed. The head warden will have undergone required fire safety training, and may have other trained wardens throughout the company depending on the size, layout or evacuation procedure.

The Ultimate Fire Drill Guide

Conducting a safe fire drill

To ensure a safe and effective fire drill, it’s important to make all employees aware of the location of fire exits and the chosen fire assembly point. This should be done on induction, so that no employee is left stranded or confused as to how to respond to a fire alarm. The following is a run down of a safe, effective fire drill:

  • Inform all employees – and any on-site visitors expected during the chosen time – that a fire drill will take place
  • The warden will initiate the drill and employees will move calmly to their nearest fire exit
  • Fire wardens will observe for any issues during evacuation, such as people stopping to pick up belongings
  • Wardens will help to guide employees to the nearest fire exit, where necessary, and should ensure their designated area is clear once people have evacuated
  • Employees will evacuate to the fire assembly point, and await roll call
  • Fire wardens will carry out roll call, ensuring everyone is accounted for
  • Once satisfied that the evacuation is completed, it’s up to the fire warden to initiate re-entry to the building
  • Employees will re-enter the premises in a calm manner

The fire warden needs to record the results of the fire drill, paying close attention to any  issues that might have occurred, so they can action any improvements needed to make the evacuation more efficient and safe. Things to pay attention to include:

  • Any problems with fire exit doors, or hazards en route to the assembly point
  • Any problems with staff who have disabilities or mobility issues – wardens should assist these employees during the evacuation
  • Any personnel who seem confused or don’t know where their closest fire exit is – this could suggest problems with communication or signage

What happens after a fire drill?

Once the drill is over and everyone has returned to their work, the fire warden should have a complete record of the drill, including any issues that may have arisen. These can then be researched and rectified. Additional fire wardens or training courses may be needed, a more efficient route might be necessary, or the drill may have been a resounding success. Whatever the results, it’s important to keep a record and plan for the next fire drill so you maintain a high level of awareness and preparation for any potential emergencies in the future.

Target Fire Protection works throughout Manchester, Rochdale, Bury, Oldham and across the UK to provide fire safety training, advice, assessments and equipment to commercial customers. Our fire safety training course will arm your employees with the knowledge and confidence to help them respond effectively during an emergency, and our range of fire alarms, fire extinguishers and suppression systems will help to protect your premises in the event of a fire. To find out more about our services, simply contact us today.

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