Fires can destroy homes, forests, and even businesses. Every 63 seconds, there’s a structural fire in the USA. While they lead to the loss of life, fires across the U.S. have led to an estimated loss of $25.6 billion in 2018 alone. To avoid such losses, you need to be prepared to deal with workplace fires.
One of the best ways of fighting fires is by conducting fire drills regularly at your workplace. Not only does this prepare your employees for such a situation but it also helps you identify ways through which you can reduce the damage to life and property.
Fire drills are not only helpful in case of fires. They can also prepare you for other unforeseen emergencies, such as earthquakes or active shooters. Your employees will be well-versed with the evacuation routes and procedures as a result of the fire drill and will be able to stay away from harm’s way too. Let’s now take a look at how you can conduct fire drills at your workplace.
1. Prepare An Evacuation Plan
Before you can conduct your fire drill, you need to sit down and create an evacuation plan. This must be as detailed as possible and should contain all the exit routes from your workplace. It should also clearly outline the actions that your employees need to take to reach the rally point.
You may need to consider multiple causes of fires, such as a wildfire, short circuits, etc. and plan for each of them. The plan must also name the fire marshal and other key people who’ll help in carrying out the evacuation procedures. You should highlight their responsibilities in your evacuation plan too.
The plan must also include a communication plan for emergencies such as using an emergency notification system. It can help you send out alerts instantly in multiple languages so that your employees can be informed about the fire quickly.
2. Train Your Employees
Once you’ve prepared your evacuation plan, you need to train your employees and introduce them to fire safety. You must put effort into helping them understand the importance of a fire drill, else, they may not take it seriously.
Additionally, you should ensure that your entire fire safety team is well-trained to handle the fire drill. Having a surprise fire drill without preparing anyone will lead to no good as people may start rushing through the doors without following the evacuation plan.
3. Communicate The Drill In Advance
When you’re about to organize your first fire drill, you should communicate this to your employees in advance. This will prepare them to act in accordance with the procedures that have already been set. You could use a two-way mass notification system to effectively send out these notifications to your employees to demonstrate how active you will be in soliciting feedback to better direct resources and assistance in the case of a fire.
You must also set goals for your fire drill and share them with your employees. These goals can help you identify how well your evacuation plan works. They could be on the lines of the time taken to evacuate or the time taken to complete the drill. By measuring these metrics, you can improve your performance each time you conduct a fire drill. When you share these metrics with your employees, they’ll feel equally involved in ensuring their safety too.
4. Rehearse The Drill
Before conducting a full-fledged fire drill, you should consider rehearsing it. This can help in preparing your fire safety team and employees for the complete drill. The fire safety team will be able to understand their weaknesses by conducting these mock drills.
Employees, on the other hand, will be able to master the basic fire drills before moving on to the more complex ones. You can keep changing the variables during these mock drills to train your staff on how to react during different scenarios.
5. Rally Point
Rally points are of prime importance during any fire emergency. These are safe points where employees need to gather after evacuating the premises. Here, the fire safety team needs to cross-check if every employee has made it out of the fire area safely.
This rally point is typically placed outside the building to ensure that it’ll be away from any fires. In the case of a large organization, it’s common to have multiple rally points with different leaders from the fire safety team at each point.
After the counting of employees has been done at the rally points, the leaders should ascertain if any employees are missing. These should then be reported to the professionals in charge immediately so that appropriate action can be taken according to the established protocols.
6. Place Observers
The last step in conducting a fire drill at your workplace is that of placing neutral observers. These people shouldn’t be a part of your fire safety team and their role would be to observe the entire drill. They can help you identify loopholes in your fire evacuation plan or non-adherence to it as well.
Employees who are moving slowly in groups or are on their cell phones during the evacuation process can be identified by them. These observers can present their observations post the fire drill and based on these, appropriate actions can be taken.
Fire drills are necessary to ensure the safety of your employees in the case of fire emergencies. By conducting them regularly, you can improve your response to such situations. For that, you must have an emergency evacuation plan and a fire safety team in place.
It’s also essential to train your employees and inform them about the drill before actually conducting it. You should conduct a few rehearsals to ensure that your employees and the fire safety team are well-versed with the processes involved in the full-fledged drill. It’s also necessary to set a rally point and account for all your employees there. Lastly, you must place observers who can analyze the performance of your fire drill to help you improve its effectiveness.
What are the other things you need to keep in mind while conducting a fire drill at your workplace? Let me know in the comments.