Thursday, 10 May 2012

Improving fire safety with effective Fire Escape Plans

Fire Escape Plans

If there is a fire in your workplace, would you know where the fire extinguishers are?

Can you locate the safest route to a fire exit quickly, and do you know where to meet your colleagues after exiting the building?

Whilst all companies should organise regular fire evacuation drills, these normally follow a calm, orderly exit of the building using the persons most familiar route into and out of the building. During a real fire, people in a burning building are likely to be under significant psychological and even physical stress.

A successful evacuation is partly dependent on physical values such as the means of escape and partly on psychological values, such as communication processes, understanding, evaluation and decision. A disorganised evacuation may result in confusion, increased evacuation times, injury and potentially loss of life.

To help reduce confusion in these situations, a properly designed fire escape plan should be drawn up and displayed in prominent locations around the building. This not only provides key information in time of an emergency, but also acts as an excellent pre event training aid, helping members of staff and visitors to become familiar with equipment locations and all available fire exits.

Whilst the concept of fire escape plan design is simple to understand, there are several key points that need to be included to ensure the success of any escape plan. These include:

You Are Here

An evacuation map must contain an accurate diagram of corridors, rooms, exits and the location of fire and evacuation equipment within the building. The readers's location must be clearly marked so employees can quickly know where they are in the building and easily identify the route to the closest fire exit or fire fighting equipment.

Secondary Exit Routes

An evacuation map must display one primary exit route and at least one alternate route. Wheelchair accessible exits can also be clearly marked on the floor plan.

Stairs and Elevators
Evacuation maps of multi-story buildings should indicate the location of stairwells and elevators. Stairwells that lead to fire exits should be clearly marked as such. However, evacuation routes should designate stairs as exits during an emergency, whereas elevators are clearly marked as not for use during an emergency.

Safe Refuge
Areas of safety for mobility impaired personnel and guests are becoming more common place, as are Evacuation Chairs. Employers are introducing safe areas, and evacuation equipment, but their location is not always well communicated. Clearly identifying these points on the escape plan will help to reduce the time taken to locate and reach safe refuge areas, and support your Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEP).

Assembly Area

An area away from the building should be designated for employees to meet after evacuating in order to account for all employees. The area should be large enough to accommodate all employees and should be clearly marked on the emergency evacuation map together with the assembly points location in relation to the building. Where practical, external references such as road names should be provided.

Ultimately, the ability to quickly identify the safest, quickest escape route is critical to ensuring safe egress from the building.

From Silver Bear.


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