Fire drills are as important today as they were when you were a kid. Remember lining up with your classmates and filing out of your classroom and into the playground, bus circle, or the parking lot? Fire drills in the workplace are vital to protect the safety of your employees. You must plan and practice regularly.
Did you know fire departments responded to 1,388,500 fires in 2020? Those fires caused over 3,500 deaths, over 15,000 injuries, and over $21 billion in property damage. Surprisingly, over half of these fires occurred in a building that did not have a functioning smoke detector or fire alarm system.
It’s imperative to have working smoke detectors in your buildings. Your employees are the heart and soul of your business, and they deserve to be protected. It’s equally important for them to know what to do in the case of a fire.
Here are five steps to follow in a fire drill at work.
Have a Plan In Place
Just like your school, every workplace needs to have a good plan in case of a fire.
It’s not just management’s responsibility to take care of this by themselves. Your fire alarm installation service provider can work with you to create a plan that keeps everyone safe and sound. Most workplace fires are caused by the same reasons as house fires. Planning and prevention are often the same.
When creating an evacuation plan, be sure all escape routes are clear and free of debris. Anything that could hinder someone from getting out of a burning building should be removed. Check all ladders, doors, and fire escapes. Ensure that all windows can be opened and screens can be removed.
Tell employees not to use elevators and take the stairs. You’ll need multiple escape routes available in case one is blocked. Plan for this possibility and practice using several evacuation routes. Everyone in the building needs to feel secure knowing there are multiple ways to get out in case of a fire.
Make Sure Employees Are Well-Versed in the Plan
Once the plan is in place, you’ll need to communicate this to your employees so they know exactly what to do and how to follow the plan. It’s not only your current employees that need to understand it, but you also need to explain it in detail to all new employees when they’re hired.
Any changes in the plan must be communicated to employees immediately. This will ensure that no one is confused and everyone is following the same plan. Safety is the number one goal if a fire starts, and confusion can lead to injuries or even death.
All employees need to be familiar with fire protection equipment and its location. Ensure that all fire and smoke alarms are functioning properly. This is commonly overlooked – it’s very easy to assume that fire and smoke alarms work. Regular inspections are crucial.
Create Goals & Track Results
You’ll want to explain to your employees that it’s important to create goals for your fire drills and then track the results. Tell them that the goals should include the following:
- The amount of time the evacuations take. This is key as the speed at which you can orderly let employees out of a burning building absolutely saves lives.
- Reporting that the drill has been completed,
- If/how long it took for essential equipment to be shut down and secured. This will show how much time it takes to get your equipment and your employees safely out of the building. Organization is everything here.
Run Drills Regularly
Practice makes perfect. It’s important to explain this to your employees.
I know people may get tired of having to get up from their jobs and go outside. And hopefully, all you ever have to do is practice. No one wants to do this for real. But if a fire ever occurs, you need to know that everyone is on the same page and can get out safely in an organized manner.
When running through your fire drills, have your employees practice different scenarios. Fires happen unexpectedly and situations will arise during evacuations that you might not be able to predict. Everyone needs to be calm, cool, and collected. Practicing different exit strategies and evacuation routes will help to reduce panic and poor judgment in the event of a fire.
Actively Look for Improvements
Fire drills will never be perfect – nothing ever is. Just like anything else, there are always ways to improve fire drills. You might need to pick different routes, different exits, or different meeting places outside the building. It’s a good idea to work with your fire alarm system installation service provider to work out any kinks in your evacuation plan. This will help keep your employees safe and sound.
Have a system in place so that managers can check in at each rally point and make sure that all employees have gotten out safely. Designate a couple of people to have a comprehensive list of employees, their evacuation routes, and meeting spots to make sure everyone is out of the building safely.
No one ever wants to think about a fire at their workplace. But unfortunately, they happen – resulting in injuries and deaths. They cause damage to buildings and can lead to the loss of jobs and important services to their communities.
That’s why it’s important to have a working fire alarm system and drill plan so everyone knows what to do in case of a fire.
Prepare an evacuation plan; communicate it to all employees; rehearse the plan; have a rallying point for employees to meet. Finally, evaluate the fire drill and continually work on making it better. This is how you protect your most important asset: your employees.