4 Tips to Make Your Workplace Safer through Fire Emergency Planning

Posted on: 29 July 2016

Fire emergency plans are an important part of disaster preparedness. Every business with physical premises should have a response system in place that includes required fire safety equipment in the right places and proper training of employees to respond to fire incidents when they happen. Your plan should be in writing and given to every employee, including those working on shift and independent contractors. Changes to your building that affect the plan should be updated as necessary. This article lists some tips for fire emergency response if you're creating a plan for your workplace.

1. Know where the equipment are

Ensure your emergency plan lists the location of all manual pull alarms, fire extinguishers, fire exits, emergency communication centres, stairwells to be used during exits, sprinklers and water pipes as well as smoke detectors. Aside from listing the equipment in the plan, employees should be trained to know how to use them e.g. operating fire extinguishers for small fires. In addition, they should know where to assemble following evacuation for headcounts.

2. Reduce fire hazards

Having fire detection systems, while not mandatory, is desirable as they can give you vital notice to evacuate a building before the fire goes out of hand. You should also reduce fire hazards in the workplace, such as the following:

  • Blocked fire exits and stairwells – make alternate arrangements if blocked for safety reasons or renovation.
  • Missing or spoilt fire extinguishers – arrange to have them replaced.
  • Spoilt exit lights – in dark offices, exit signs as well as stairwells should be lit. Having backup lighting systems can help in case electricity goes out following a fire.

3. Treat all alarms as emergencies

Employees should be trained to know the sound of the alarm (you can conduct periodic fire drills for this) and how to respond. Every alarm should be treated as an emergency – do not try to investigate the cause of the fire before leaving the building. Instead, exit the building safely and alert the fire department.

Once every employee is accounted for, you may investigate a non-progressive situation to determine whether or not there's a fire. If you find the alarm to be the result of defective equipment, notify the fire department. Keep the alarm ringing until you are certain the building is empty (employee headcounts can ascertain this) or have been allowed to do so by the fire-fighting personnel.

4. Assign and train floor wardens

Every floor should have an assigned warden to take charge and coordinate evacuation in case alarm is raised. The warden should check each floor room by room during an alarm to ensure that the room is empty. He/she should also close doors on that floor to limit spread of fire and smoke.