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Carry Out a Successful Fire Drill

By: Freddy Flame
Fire drills should be carried out to check that staff understand the emergency fire action plan, to ensure that staff are familiar with operation of the emergency fire action plan, to evaluate effectiveness of the plan and to identify any weakness in the evacuation strategy.
The frequency of fire drills for each building will be different and should reflect the level of risk. Fire drills should take place at least once a year. Where there is more than one escape route, the fire drills should assume conditions in which one or more than one escape route are obstructed by smoke. In offices, a fire drill should involve occupant evacuation and should commence on operation of the fire alarm. In shops, fire drills should involve rehearsal for evacuation and will normally be scheduled when there are no or few shoppers in the premises.
Where there is a possibility that someone may misinterpret the fire drill and call the Fire and Rescue Service, it may be appropriate to inform the fire and rescue service prior to the commencement and on conclusion of a drill in order to alert them to the exercise and so prevent their unnecessary attendance. If the fire alarm system is connected to a remote alarm receiving centre, inform the receiving centre to ensure that the fire and rescue service is not inadvertently called out to the premises, and inform the receiving centre when the fire drill has been completed.
Within each building the fire drill evacuation should involve all occupants except those having a designated role such as the need to ensure the security of the premises, the safety of the occupants or where equipment or processes cannot be closed down.
When carrying out the fire drill it may be useful to:

  • Circulate details concerning the fire drill and inform all staff of their duty to participate
  • Ensure that any equipment which is in use, such as cookers, can be made safe by isolating or turning off controls, where appropriate
  • In larger premises, nominate observers that can assess the appropriateness of actions and identify problems
  • Inform visitors if they are present

A roll call should be carried out as soon as possible at the designated assembly point(s) and note any persons who are unaccounted for. In a fire evacuation this information would need to be passed to the fire and rescue service on arrival. The results of the fire drill should be recorded and stored with the fire risk assessment.

Throughout the fire drill, the person in charge and any nominated observers should pay particular attention to:

  • Inappropriate actions such as stopping to collect personal items, such as jackets and handbags
  • Difficulties experienced by people with disabilities
  • Communication difficulties with regard to the roll call and establishing that everyone is accounted for
  • The use of the nearest available fire escape routes as opposed to frequently used routes
  • Difficulties with the opening of doors and fire escape routes being blocked
  • Doors not being closed as people leave rooms to prevent smoke and fire spread

The significant findings of any fire drill should be recorded with the fire risk assessment and reviewed regularly.

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About The Author, Freddy Flame

Freddy Flame

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