If you held your last fire or emergency evacuation drill more than six months ago, it’s time to think about staging another. Careful planning and evaluation can help you get the most out of these exercises, enhancing your employee’s chances of a safe evacuation.
Bear in mind that unannounced drills give you an idea of how workers might actually react in an emergency situation. On the other hand, announcing drills offer them the opportunity to prepare for and practice specific skill sets they would need.
Before a fire emergency arises, workers need to know:
- How to activate the appropriate alarm system(s).
- How and when to contact the fire department.
- What to do before they evacuate—such as shutting down equipment.
- Their role in the evacuation. For example, they might need to assist disabled co-workers, help contractors or visitors on the premises, bring essential items such as visitor logs that can be used to verify that everyone is out of the building, provide first aid for injured co-workers, or act to prevent or minimize hazardous chemical releases.
- How to evacuate their work area by at least two routes.
- The locations of stairwells (workers should not use elevators to evacuate).
- Places to avoid – such as hazardous materials storage areas.
- Assembly points outside the building.
After the drill, evaluate the exercise to determine which problems need addressing. Ask such questions as:
- Did anyone ignore the alarm?
- Did everyone know what to do?
- Did everyone make it to the assembly point?
- How long did the evacuation take?
- Are there any gaps that need filling? For example, is at least one worker trained in first aid available on every shift?
If you’d like advice on implementing or reviewing your fire evacuation plans, our agency stands ready to help.