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Fire Drills – All You Need to Know

Whether you work in an office, retail outlet, school or factory, fire drills are a vital part of your workplace fire safety.

As important as fire alarms, fire extinguishers and fire safety signs, fire drills are an indirect, but equally significant, form of fire protection and aim to protect everyone who works within your commercial building from the devastating consequences of fire.

Therefore, we’ve compiled a quick and simple guide as to why fire drills are so important and how you can carry them out effectively within your workplace.

A Quick Look at Fire Regulations

Fire safety in business or other non-domestic premises typically comes down to the employer, the owner, the landlord, an occupier, or anyone else with control of the premises.

As a responsible person, it’s important to be aware of what your responsibilities are, ensuring that any risks to the health and safety of you, your employees, and anyone visiting the premises are minimised as much as possible.

It is your responsibility to conduct the following practices:

✔️  carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly

✔️  tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified

✔️  put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures

✔️  plan for an emergency

✔️  provide staff with information, fire safety instructions and training

The law requires you to have a fire detection and warning system, however the type of system you need will depend on your business and premises. Maintenance and testing of these systems is also required by law, including regular fire drills. But how many fire drills are required by law each year?

How often should a fire drill be performed?

Ideally you should aim to have two fire drills a year, although this may vary depending on what has been set out in your company’s risk assessment.

As a legal minimum, you should carry out at least one fire drill per year and record the results. You must keep the results as part of your fire safety and evacuation plan.

You also need to train new staff when they start work and tell all employees about any new fire risks.

What should a fire drill involve?

Before carrying out the drill it’s often useful to:

  • Inform all employees that a fire drill is going to happen
  • Nominate observers to assess the fire drill, paying attention to the appropriateness of actions
  • Additionally, if there are likely to be any visitors present at the time of the fire drill you should also pre-warn them

Throughout the drill, the ‘responsible person’ and any nominated observers or fire safety wardens should:

  • Keep an eye out for any inappropriate behaviour, such as stopping to collect coats, bags and other personal belongings
  • Closely observe any difficulties experienced by people with disabilities, such as an inability to get out of an exit or get downstairs easily
  • Make sure employees are using the nearest fire escape route, rather than just the exit they’re most familiar with
  • Pay attention to any difficulties experienced because of the chosen escape routes, such as doors being difficult to open, or exits being blocked
  • Listen closely to the roll call taken once the evacuation has been completed, making sure everyone is present and accounted for and checking for any issues which may arise

After the drill, it’s important the person in charge:

  • Thoroughly and comprehensively logs all details of the fire drill, including how the evacuation procedure went and any inappropriate actions or problems which were noted as a result
  • Any significant findings of the drill should be recorded within the Fire Risk Assessment and reviewed regularly as part of your workplace fire safety
  • Remedial action deemed necessary, such as the installation of additional fire safety signs or fire alarms, should be undertaken by a professional, reputable fire safety company

What is the purpose of a fire drill?

Fire drills are an important part of fire safety procedures for many reasons. Not only do they ensure that all your staff, customers and visitors understand what they need to do if there is a fire, but they also help you test how effective your fire evacuation plan is and to improve certain aspects of your fire provisions.

As well as testing that your fire alarms are working, carrying out a full fire drill will help you to check other equipment such as fire door retainers, and LED emergency lighting.

What to Do Next

Now you’re properly informed about fire drills, isn’t it time you organised your next one?

After the drill, if you notice any faults in your fire alarms or equipment while conducting a drill, TIS can help.

We believe in giving you control. Securing lives and livelihoods, processes and profitability, by building integrated solutions that you can trust.

Working as your partner we share our expertise and deliver the right solutions, built for today and prepared for the future.

Let’s protect what matters, get in touch with TIS today.

5th December 2019

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