Yes—even though your building might have fire sprinklers, extinguishers, and suppressants installed to diffuse a fire as quickly as possible at the source, sometimes the safest way to handle a fire emergency is to get your employees out as fast as possible. Having an emergency evacuation plan and instinctively knowing how to execute it is crucial for these situations—without help from professional firefighters, stopping the fire might be too dangerous.
If only one or two managers know your office’s fire evacuation plan, it does little to help the rest of your employees. What if those workers are out sick or on vacation? You can’t plan for a fire, but you can plan your response. With regular fire drills, you can train all of your employees to be prepared in the event of an emergency. All of your employees should be familiar with multiple safe evacuation routes.
While you may not know how everyone will respond in the event of a fire in your office space, you can help with regular fire drills. This will help prepare everyone within the building for a fire at any time. They might know the safest route from their office to the stairwell, but will they know the best route from the kitchen or conference room? Has that group of new employees that you hired last month participated in a drill? Would everyone be able to escape safely if you or the other bosses were at a conference?
In sports, they say “practice makes perfect,” but when it comes to fire protection and response, practice can make everyone safer.
Fire drills are not mandated for all buildings and office spaces, but NFPA 101: Life Safety Code suggests that workplaces, healthcare centers, and educational facilities provide evacuation plans and information. The NFPA also suggests that such buildings routinely schedule and hold drills when practicable.
You should never use an elevator in the event of a fire in your building—whether you are on the second floor or the 23rd. Mechanically, elevators are programmed to bring the elevator to the ground floor in the event of an emergency, but sometimes it may malfunction and cause the elevator to travel to another floor—including where the fire started, putting the occupants at risk of injury or death from smoke or fire. By taking the stairs, employees are in control of their evacuation route and don’t have to work about a mechanical malfunction.
It is always better to be safe than risk injury or worse. If you don’t own the entire building, but notice that the space next to or nearby your workplace is requiring evacuation, you should have your employees safely evacuate as well. Even if it is a false alarm, you avoided any risk and also practiced an impromptu drill!
Writing down a building evacuation plan and filing it away in a cabinet or folder does no good for saving the lives of the people inside the office space. In addition to practicing regular fire drills and evacuations, the plan (with multiple escape routes) should be posted throughout the office.
Yes—you should never treat an alarm as a drill and ignore it. Always assume the situation is a real threat and not a false alarm. The fire alarm system was most likely installed to alert your building’s occupants of a fire as quickly as possible to increase their chances of evacuating to safety, so listen to the alarms!
You should contact a local fire protection company to help you design an effective and safe evacuation plan for your building. If you are located in the Houston, Texas (TX) area, contact Kauffman Co. today! We have been helping property owners throughout the area for years. If you need any sort of fire protection assistance—from fire system installation to fire suppression inspections to fire evacuation planning—our expert technicians can help!
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