Fire Evacuation Training: Why It’s Important for Facilities
Facility managers are responsible for ensuring the safety of occupants and visitors in their facility for all emergency types. One of the most common emergencies that can happen to facilities is a fire emergency, where being prepared for fire evacuation can be the difference between occupant safety or disaster. Fires can happen in any type of building, so it’s important to have fire evacuation training and an evacuation plan in place even if you may not think it is necessary to your facility right now – that’s where fire evacuation training comes in.
Fire evacuation training prepares occupants and visitors for what to do if there is a fire in your facility; where to assemble, how to safely remove themselves from the situation and how to respond if things go wrong. This kind of training is also necessary for your Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) so that they are prepared to fulfill their necessary duties and ensure occupant safety.
Table of Contents
- The dangers of fire and the importance of fire evacuation training
- How to develop a fire evacuation plan for your facility
- Implementing the plan – what to do and when to do it
The dangers of fire and the importance of evacuation training
Fire is one of the most dangerous things that can happen in a workplace and when it does happen the situation can escalate extremely quickly and without warning. The rapid spread of fire can cause extensive damage to facilities and present danger to occupant safety, so it’s essential that everyone knows how to evacuate your facility safely in the event of a fire.
Fire evacuation training and exercises are the penultimate method to making sure occupants are as safe as possible during these frightening scenarios. Additionally, evacuation exercises are also required for ensuring your facility’s compliance with AS3745:2010 – Planning for Emergencies in Facilities and must be completed annually.
Just recently, a fire broke out in an elevator in the South32 building in South Australia where 3 floors of the building were required to evacuate for occupant safety. The fire was so extreme that 14 fire trucks were called to the building. Thankfully there were zero casualties from the fire emergency, further highlighting the importance of fire evacuation plans in facilities.
How to develop a fire evacuation plan for your facility
Assess the current fire risk environment for your facility
- Contact public emergency services to find out their response time to your location, knowledge of your worksite and its hazards, and their ability to handle a fire emergency at your facility.
- When it comes to fire emergencies, the most common areas in facilities where emergencies break out include:
- Cooking areas
- Kitchen utilities
- Rubbish bins
- Electrical sockets
- Cooking equipment
- Reach out to the appropriate bodies to find out if there are any rules or regulations applying to fire evacuation training & planning at your facility and address any regulations that apply in your plans.
- Establish a clear chain of command for your occupants and ECO members. It is imperative to make sure everyone knows their role in a fire evacuation.
- Ask yourself the ‘what if’ questions that can help prepare you for as many fire emergency scenarios as possible. Questions may include:
- What if we evacuate the facility but not everyone is accounted for at the assembly area?
- What if there is a blockage in one of the evacuation routes that forces us to go elsewhere?
- What if our firefighting equipment in the facility fails to work properly during the fire emergency?
Prepare your plan of action
- Your fire evacuation plan must include both primary & secondary escape routes. Clearly lay out where occupants should go depending on where they are, making sure all exits, and fire escapes have clear signage for easy recognition during the chaos of an emergency. Also make sure that all floors of the facility are included in the plan and any new additions to your facility are accounted for.
- Ensure your occupants have access to all the necessary safety equipment. Make sure any safety and health materials you need are in working order and easy to access. You can discover our range of high-quality equipment here.
- Assign an assembly area for everyone to gather once they have been evacuated.
- Establish a process to account for all visitors and occupants after an evacuation. This may include visitor logs, personnel records, or attendance records.
Implementing the fire evacuation plan
The implementation of your fire evacuation plan will occur if your facility undergoes a fire emergency. The first responders to the fire emergency should be your Emergency Control Organisation who will lead your occupants to safety according to the processes outlined in your emergency plans and fire evacuation plan.
The best way to instil confidence in your ECO to properly carry out these duties if an emergency strikes, is to practice your emergency evacuation plan using drills and keep all relevant records and plans up to date. By performing evacuations when stress levels are lower, ECO members will have greater confidence they can lead occupants to safety when stress levels are much higher in real fire emergencies.