There’s a reason most schools are required to hold regular fire drills: these simple procedures could help save lives. Not only do they familiarize students and teachers with basic fire safety and evacuation procedures, but they get people actively thinking about safety. But what about the workplace?
If you own or manage a large workplace, should your office start holding fire drills? Is this a juvenile waste of time, or a vital safety precaution? It depends on how you go about it. If executed properly, a workplace fire drill can be extremely effective in communicating expectations in times of crisis.
A successful fire drill requires careful planning. There are several steps that must be executed correctly for everyone to be on the same page. Try to follow this agenda:
- Designate a group of people to be in charge of planning the specifics of when the fire drills will happen, what exits people should use, and where the safe meeting place should be.
- Break down your workplace into groups or departments, and assign a team leader for each.
- Make sure everyone knows the escape plan and provide the team leaders with stopwatches to monitor their exit times.
- Set a specific exit time goal. Anyone who doesn’t make it out by the set time is considered unsuccessful.
- Offer incentives following successful fire drills (‘successful’ meaning that everyone escaped within the time limit). Any extra motivation is encouraged and will improve exit times.
Once you’ve had a number of successful fire drills, increase the difficulty by blocking certain doors and exits to simulate the potential pitfalls of a real fire. You can even turn certain lights off to simulate loss of electricity. Being unable to access certain exits is a very real circumstance you may encounter during an actual fire.
Finally, make it fun. Most employees will enjoy the extra movement and activity in their day. Make sure to keep the weather in mind, though — nobody wants to go stand out in the rain or snow if it’s just a drill.
There are many things to consider when preparing for a fire in the workplace. You can practice drills all you want, but it’s critical to look at different fire alarm systems to find which will be the safest and most effective in the event of an actual fire. In fact, the combination of automatic sprinklers, early warning systems and other fire alarm systems in all buildings can reduce injuries, deaths, and property damages by 50% or more. There are many different types of fire alarm systems, fire sprinkler systems and fire protection systems. If necessary, have a professional fire protection service assess your building and install the system that best fits the needs of your workplace.