The importance of fire safety cannot be underestimated, and fire drills in the workplace are a crucial part of an employer’s responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005 (RRO).
Why are Fire Drills in the Workplace Important?
If you ever need to rapidly evacuate a building in an emergency, it is important to understand how people react in a high-pressure situation. By regularly rehearsing with a workplace fire drill you can understand how your staff behave and identify opportunities to improve. When people know what is expected of them the procedures become ingrained and the likelihood of panic is greatly reduced. A fire drill also affords you the opportunity to review exit routes, assembly points and plans so you can improve your fire safety strategy. Most importantly of all is the fact that fire drills are a legal requirement for businesses under the RRO.
How often should you hold fire drills?
Employers are legally obliged to carry out a fire drill at least once a year. If your workplace has additional risk-factors such as machinery or flammable items then it is a good idea to carry them out more regularly. More frequent fire drills are essential if you have shift-workers as you should aim to include all personnel in an evacuation each year.
Should staff be informed about fire drills?
Staff should be informed that a fire drill will be taking place soon, so they understand what their roles and responsibilities are, but it may be worth keeping the precise time and date of the drill a secret so that staff do not become complacent.
How should you prepare for a fire drill?
There are a few key stages in fire drill preparation:
• Ensure you have the right number of trained fire wardens. Fire wardens should be competent staff who have undergone training from a company like EFL Fire & Security. There should always be at least one fire warden on duty – don’t forget about shifts, holidays and sickness.
• Maintain a register of staff. If you know who is on the premises, then you can be sure that the building has been cleared of all of its occupants. Consider keeping a signing in book at your reception.
• Make sure evacuation routes are clear. Your fire wardens can help by continually monitoring corridors and exits.
• Make sure your fire safety equipment is operational. Smoke alarms, call points and extinguishers must all be in working order in case there is a fire. Contact a company like EFL Fire & Security to ensure they are all properly maintained and working.
What should be in a Fire Drill Procedure?
An effective fire drill procedure requires some key components:
• Keep a record of how long it takes for the premises to be evacuated completely. Only stop the clock when everyone has reached the assembly points. Afterwards, investigate ways to increase the speed safely.
• Observe behaviour: Because fire drills do not happen often, it is important to take the opportunity to observe how people behave and the effectiveness of the procedure. You may identify issues with escape routes or fire doors and you might need to reiterate rules such as not collecting belongings before leaving the building.
• Keep records: Evidence of your fire drills being completed and the people involved may be asked for by a Fire Safety Inspector.
EFL Fire & Security
Never underestimate the importance of fire safety. For advice, training and fire safety equipment supply, installation and maintenance in Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, contact EFL Fire & Security & Security on 08446 449821.