Fire drills ensure that everyone prepared to act safely, calmly, and quickly to reduce panic in an emergency
When is the last time you conducted a workplace fire drill?
If you can’t remember, you’re overdue!
Fire drills should be conducted at least every six months. In workplaces with serious fire hazards, the recommendation is more frequent. Best practice for all workplaces is at least once every quarter.
A workplace fire drill plan is an essential component of your workplace emergency response plan
Emergency Response Plans
Most businesses have emergency response plans so that all employees know how to handle serious emergency events, including fires.
The emergency response plan should include specific fire safety information, including:
Planning Fire Drills
Fire drills are important because they ensure that in the event of an emergency, everyone is prepared to act safely, calmly, and quickly to reduce panic. Good fire drills do require planning.
✔ Contact the Fire Department
Most fire alarm systems are connected to the local fire dept. If the alarm is activated, the fire department is normally notified right away, so that they can dispatch emergency services. If you plan to activate the fire alarm as part of your drill, let the local department know. They’ll be able to save valuable emergency resources and avoid dispatching services that aren’t needed.
✔ Nominate a Fire Marshal or Committee
The fire marshal will be responsible for activating the alarm, timing the evacuation efforts, taking a headcount at the meeting place, and evaluating the effectiveness of the drill. In some cases, the marshal will be a committee of employees instead of a single person. The Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) should be at least represented or comprise the entire committee. Where a single marshal is sufficient, consider a member of the JHSC.
Let workers know there’s going to be a fire drill and ensure that they all know the evacuation routes. Or, don’t tell them! Sometimes it’s the surprise drills that are the most telling. Even when you do surprise drills, there is some pre-planning required, and the fire department should be notified.
✔ Change it Up
Keep your drills interesting, and relevant, by changing the scenario. After all, fire is unpredictable, and your drills ought to be as well. For example, block an exit and force workers to use the alternate route. Or, try having a drill during a hectic time, such as shift changeover, or even during lunch!
Once the fire marshal or committee has evaluated the effectiveness of the drill, identified deficiencies, and have some corrective actions prepared, be sure to debrief all who participated. It’s important that workers understand the deficiencies and corrective actions if they’re going to be more efficient during the next fire drill.
Be sure to document each fire drill. Recording each fire drill, including deficiencies and corrective actions shows due diligence.
To make it easy, MidSouthWest is giving you a FREE Record of Fire Drill Form.
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MidSouthWest Training and Consulting has an extensive catalogue of fire-safety training products and solutions. To learn more about MidSouthWest Training and Consulting’s online training options, including Fire Safety and Emergency Response Planning, contact us online or call 289.309.1143. Visit us 24/7 on the web at midsouthwest.ca.
Last updated August 21, 2020