Fire drills make it possible for workers to practice exiting the workplace in the case of an emergency. A practiced exit program will allow all to respond quickly, calmly, and safely in the event of a real emergency. Periodic drills may also be necessary as part of your insurance coverage.
Fire Drill Objectives
The Primary Purpose of your fire drill should be to get everyone out efficiently and safely in the event of an emergency however, as part of that, your objectives should include:
- Giving employees an opportunity to practice emergency procedures in a simulated environment
- Assessing whether workers can carry out assigned emergency duties
- Understanding whether the evacuation procedures were effective
- Contemplating any changes or alterations to improve performance
- Complying with any fire code or insurance requirements
How frequently you hold fire drills should be decided by the local fire code and your office fire hazards. Flammable materials) or complex exit processes (eg. A high-rise building), fire drills should be conducted more frequently. For these types of workplaces, fire drills scheduled every three weeks may be appropriate, whereas other workplaces might just need drills every six months.
Announced vs. Unannounced
The type of drill may also depend on your purpose for the event. For example, an announced drill may be preferred if you’re introducing a new evacuation process. If workers are learning a new process, a scheduled drill will allow them to learn more efficiently. But since emergency situations are never intended, you also want to use unannounced drills to see how people will react and to be sure everyone can exit efficiently and safely.
Your safety team should debrief after every fire drill to evaluate how it went and whether any changes to roles or procedures are necessary. They should consider things like:
- Did the fire alarm go off?
- Did all workers hear the alarm?
- Did all workers evacuate?
- Did workers shut down equipment before they evacuated?
- Can the designated employees carry out their safety duties?
- Did workers follow evacuation routes?
- Did any workers need assistance?
- Did workers go to meeting areas after they exited?
- Why was everyone accounted for?
Using these questions, you are able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your evacuation plan and make improvements. These are a critical part of workplace safety and will help protect employees from not only fire but also other scenarios that require a fast exit from the workplace like power outages