Fire drills make it possible for employees to practice exiting the workplace in the event 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 main objective of your fire drill should be to get everyone out efficiently and safely in the event of an emergency but, as part of that, your objectives should include:
- Giving employees an opportunity to practice emergency procedures in a simulated environment
- Assessing whether workers can execute assigned emergency responsibilities
- Understanding whether the evacuation procedures were effective
- Considering any changes or adjustments to improve performance
- Complying with any fire code or insurance requirements
How often you hold fire drills should be decided by the local fire code and your workplace fire hazards. If your office presents serious fire hazards (eg. Flammable materials) or complex exit processes (eg. A high-rise building), fire drills should be conducted more frequently. For these kinds of workplaces, fire drills scheduled every three weeks may be appropriate, whereas other offices may just require drills every six months.
Announced vs. Unannounced
The type of drill may also depend on your purpose for the event. By way of instance, an announced drill might be preferred if you are introducing a new evacuation procedure. If employees are learning a new process, a scheduled drill will enable them to learn more effectively. But since emergency situations are never intended, you also want to use unannounced drills to see how people will respond 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 if any changes to procedures or roles are necessary. They should consider things like:
- Did the fire alarm go off?
- Did all employees hear the alarm?
- Did all workers evacuate?
- Did employees shut down equipment before they evacuated?
- Did fire doors release?
- Can the designated employees carry out their safety duties?
- Did workers follow evacuation routes?
- Were evacuation routes clear?
- Did any workers need assistance?
- Did workers go to meeting areas after they exited?
- Why was everyone accounted for?
These are a critical part of workplace safety and can help protect employees from not only fire but also other situations that require a fast exit from the workplace like power outages.