How to create a fire escape plan for your business

Disasters can strike at any time. For example, if there is a fire on your business premises, it can not only cause property damage and financial loss, but also lead to potential fatalities. And as a business owner, part of your responsibility is to provide safe working conditions for your employees and to ensure their safety and well-being at work.

One of the key elements to creating a safe workplace and ensuring fire preparedness is having clear policies and guidelines. For starters, you can hold fire evacuation seminars to educate your employees. This way they can be guided on what to do or where to go during such an emergency.

For example, each team member should be familiar with emergency equipment such as SCSR and SCBA (self-contained lifeguards and self-contained breathing apparatus), which can help your employees in the event of a fire. Additionally, having a fire escape plan to share with all team members is also essential.

What is a fire escape plan?

A fire evacuation plan is a detailed document explaining all the procedures employees must follow in the event of a fire. But in addition to facilitating the actions of your team members during a workplace emergency, an emergency action plan is also required by law.

Importance of a fire escape plan

Creating a fire escape plan after careful consideration of the various risk factors in your premises is beneficial in the following ways:

  • Improves fire preparedness for employees and other occupants, preventing injuries and saving lives during fires.
  • Improves your compliance levels, protecting you from potential penalties.
  • Helps prevent fire damage to your property by protecting various company assets from loss or damage.
  • Demonstrates a level of care, improving overall employee job satisfaction.

Your Fire Escape Checklist

An evacuation checklist can help increase the chances of achieving the overall goal in an emergency: getting people safely out of the building as soon as possible. Therefore, to help you get started, you may consider the following tips to guide you in developing a comprehensive fire escape plan:

  • Establish a chain of command

Ideally, your evacuation plan should include an evacuation team with different roles, including a workplace safety manager, a communications manager, route guides, and floor managers. This is essential as an organized team during any emergency, including a fire, can help eliminate confusion and ensure a smooth evacuation process.

Your workplace safety manager may be given primary responsibility for planning and preparing the entire plan, including conducting regular fire drills. The communication wire activates the mass alarm system which signals the start of a fire, while the route guides can calmly direct people to safety zones. On the other hand, floor supervisors ensure that everyone is evacuated from the premises and counted by providing a count to the team leader.

Although you can assign these roles to anyone in the organization, consider assigning responsibility to the most responsible members. Also, make sure they receive ongoing training and seminars to understand and be able to perform their duties and obligations during a fire.

Once your evacuation team is in place, members must determine the risk factors within your premises. For example, if you run a hotel or hospital, would a fire be more likely to come from the kitchen or boiler rooms? Or would it come from an electrical fault in a server room?

Understanding the areas most likely to start a fire can help your team map evacuation routes.

Your evacuation plan must also take into account the possible scenarios during a fire. For example, are there employees with unique medical conditions that can be triggered by the slightest change in the air caused by smoke? In such a case, you may need to prepare essential medicines and supplies for these team members.

Essentially, a scenario plan allows you to foresee what could go wrong and work to avoid it in advance.

  • Overview of emergency guidelines

This step involves listing all evacuation guides, including mapping your floor plans to determine where emergency kits and equipment should be placed and other firefighting essentials. This should also involve identifying all possible escape routes and determining the safest exit points and meeting places.

  • Make sure your building’s fire-fighting system is in good working order

Another critical step when creating an evacuation plan for your business is determining the fire suppression and prevention equipment needed on your premises, including fire detectors, alarms, fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems. You should also make sure that your fire suppression system has regular inspection and maintenance routines.

  • Regularly monitor and evaluate your policies

As you begin to rehearse your escape plan, it’s a good idea to get input from all team members at all times. This can highlight areas for improvement in workplace safety and what measures you can implement to shorten the time during evacuations.

Last words

Your business depends on your workforce and various physical assets to operate and succeed in a competitive environment. A fire can cause irreparable damage and loss that can set you back considerably, forcing you to close up shop in the worst case scenario.

Although a fire evacuation plan is a legal requirement, it should be treated as a bare minimum as it provides preventive measures against a fire outbreak and protective procedures in the event of a fire.

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