Fire Evacuation- Time to take it to the Next Level
You will have trained your ‘fire’ marshals to evacuate occupants when the fire alarm sounds but how will you use your marshals in an unplanned event for instance in a suspected or worst still, actual act of terrorism in or near to your premises? You certainly do not want occupants all congregating together at the assembly point – what a tempting target to a terrorist!
Of course this will never happen to you – until it does!
When you manage a single occupancy building it is relatively straightforward to brainstorm all the what if scenarios and put some preparations and precautions in place but with multi-tenanted properties it is very difficult to get tenants interested, so perhaps this is something landlords and/or the managing agents should be putting in place themselves. After all as a facility manager you arrange the fire drill and oversee maintenance of the fire alarm, etc. and probably take on the role of the responsible person so you can see fire evacuation management really pulls all of your fire precautions together.
With this news you probably want to delegate the procedures side of evacuation as fast as possible! However we advise that you keep a tight grip on it as it is not something an ‘outside creator’ will own and the best plans are created by people actually working in the building who know the ground.
By taking ownership yourself you can ensure that the plans don’t just get consigned to the top shelf to gather dust! Instead the planning needs to be periodically tested and adapted through perhaps table top role play team scenarios and definitely with real drills to see how people really react. At this point using an experienced person external to the organisation to run the drills is a good thing as it keeps the cost down, brings greater realism, they are usually respected by the participants and you get balanced feedback and unbiased advice.
Here is how to get started;
– Select able, suitably located and assertive people as fire marshals – who are not already designated as first aiders
– Train fire marshals and refresh at 12-18 month intervals – along with the Fire Safety Manager!
– Prepare the fire and ‘other crises’ Emergency Plan – get the fire marshals involved in the brainstorming process
– Make contact with your local Police Counter Terrorism Unit for advice
– Source and allocate marshals equipment e.g. tabards, go bags, reflective coats, clip boards, torches, walkie-talkies, spare batteries, etc.
– Test the plans through enacting different drills/scenarios and debrief fire marshals after the event
– Record the outcomes and use this information to keep improving the process
So you still think ‘it’ won’t ever happen to you? Good luck – but you need more than luck to get yourself out of a catastrophe. Prepare now before it’s too late.
For guidance and advice on preparing your own business fire and catastrophe management planning email Alan Palmer, Managing Director and owner of F.I.R.E LTD at email@example.com or if you prefer call him on 01932 222010.