Having a company’s fire escape plan is one of the most important things to keep your business and employees safe. Unfortunately, fires are becoming an increasing threat as wildfires continue to grow yearly.
And in a large business, the chaos and panic during a fire can make the situation even more dangerous. Smoke alarms are an excellent alert tool, but aA fire escape plan can help your employees know exactly what to do for an orderly evacuation. These evacuation plans don’t just help during a fire; a comprehensive fire escape plan will cover many disaster scenarios.
Moreover, fire escape plans aren’t just for commercial properties. Home fire escape plans can be essential in protecting the lives of family members. They are very effective, especially if your family members practice your home fire evacuation plan.
Practicing a fire evacuation plan can increase the odds of survival in the event of a fire by up to 70%.
Fortunately, a company’s fire escape plan can be developed for the workplace without effort. However, there are several steps to creating a good fire escape plan for any commercial building.
1. Identify fire threats to your facility. The National Fire Protection Association identifies the five most common causes of fires in commercial buildings. They are cooking equipment, heating equipment, electrical and lighting equipment, smoking materials, and intentional fire setting. Start with these threats and identify any additional fire risks in your building.
2. Issue responsibilities. If the fire can be contained with fire extinguishers quickly, responders should use these tools. But if it cannot, then evacuation should begin. While most employees will only be responsible for finding their escape routes, some leaders must take on additional roles. These roles may be helping to direct emergency responders or assisting with the orderly evacuation.
3. Map out escape routes. You can map out the primary and secondary fire escape routes using a floor plan. These exit routes should be communicated to everyone working in the building. It is also good to practice these escape routes and post them in areas that can be easily seen during an emergency.
4. Create a communication plan. Many first responders will arrive during a fire, including the fire department and maybe police or ambulance assistance. Your fire escape plan should designate who will be responsible for communicating with these responders.
The plan should also identify who will be available to speak with media or business partners. Accurate information must be conveyed during an emergency, especially if people are still in the building. Precise and quick communication can save lives and minimize public panic.
5. Assess your fire safety resources. Most commercial buildings are required to have safety features for fires. This may include smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, fire sprinkler systems, fire doors, fire escapes, and communication systems.
In addition to identifying these tools, you must also ensure they are in proper working order periodically and train employees on their locations. Completing this task can help your team respond quickly in the event of a fire and minimize the risk of injury or death.
6. Practice escape routes. Many fire experts know that escaping in less than two minutes can be the difference between survival and tragedy. And while you may think it would be easy to evacuate in that time frame, it’s not always that easy.
People may begin to panic during an emergency, preventing them from thinking clearly. The best way to ensure everyone is prepared for an orderly evacuation is by rehearsing it regularly.
7. Follow-up and reporting. You must have a point person to get updates about employees. There is usually someone in charge of counting individuals and ensuring everyone is accounted for.
They will also need to communicate with HR if some employees are out of the office. You may also have to check in with administrative staff to determine whether any customers, clients, or delivery people were in the building when the fire started.
Commercial fires are dangerous and can be even more hazardous in crowded workspaces. However, having proper fire safety equipment, including smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, is no substitute for a well-thought-out and coordinated fire escape plan.