Designing an Evacuation Strategy for Your Business
Between June 2020 and June 2021, the UK Fire & Rescue Service attended 149,779 fires. These events resulted in a total of 249 deaths, and 6387 injuries. It is clear that more needs to be done to reduce risk.
The good news is that, since the horrific Grenfell Tower tragedy, fire protection has become a firm priority. More and more buildings are being fitted with equipment such as dry & wet risers. These facilitate the rapid extinguishing of fires, especially in high rise buildings which are often more complex.
However, relying on firefighters and equipment alone isn’t sensible. While our fire service is exceptional, the average time it takes an engine in the UK to reach an emergency is 8 minutes, 39 seconds.
As well as focusing on ways to tackle fires, businesses must also be focusing on ways to swiftly evacuate staff and visitors, reduce personal risk, and keep everyone as safe as possible until help arrives. The best way to achieve this is by designing a thorough evacuation strategy that’s tailored for your premises.
What is an evacuation strategy?
An evacuation strategy is a plan of action that details how everyone in a building can leave quickly and safely in the event of a fire. It details where they will go, and who will be responsible for overseeing the process.
Unfortunately, there’s no single strategy that will fit every business. There will be significant differences in requirements, depending on building design and construction, available fire escapes, occupancy levels, and occupancy type. However, all strategies should cover the following points:
- Overview of designated emergency routes and exits that directly lead to safety
- Confirmation of which routes should be used depending on a person’s location in the building
- Confirmation of secondary routes to be used should primary routes be blocked
- Information on the dedicated assembly point
- Details of appointed fire marshals and their role in facilitating a safe evacuation
- Confirmation of what will be used to trigger an evacuation. e.g. fire alarm sounding
- Instructions for evacuating vulnerable people or those requiring assistance
- Instructions for evacuating those who have suffered an injury during the process
A good fire evacuation strategy should be designed with input from your employees and the building owner or the facilities manager. However, as an employer, you will have a number of responsibilities:
- Working with the building owner or facilities manager to examine methods of making evacuations safer. This may include the addition of extra fire protection equipment such as sprinkler systems.
- Determining a safe assembly point. Ideally, a fire assembly point should be undercover in case of an emergency in adverse conditions, and be a safe distance from the building. A register should be taken.
- Ensuring that any door that is to be used during an emergency situation can easily be opened quickly. These doors should be secured, but not locked or fastened in a way that prevents immediate opening.
- Keeping all primary and secondary escape routes clear at all times. Encouraging employees and visitors not to store items or leave personal belongings in areas that could slow down foot traffic.
- Making sure that all escape routes can be illuminated as needed with emergency lighting. This can help to reduce the risk of trips and falls during an evacuation.
- Communicating the evacuation strategy clearly and effectively with everyone; including it as part of new staff training, and ensuring the plan is easily accessible, at any time, to those who need it.
Protect your business, and your people
An evacuation strategy isn’t just critical for getting people to safety during a fire. It can be used for quickly evacuating people in any emergency situation, including weather and building hazards.
For more information on how you can make your evacuation plan more effective through installation of the right fire protection equipment, contact Eversafe online, or send an email to email@example.com.