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Planning and Evaluation–The Keys to Effective Fire Drills

Originally posted by Chris Kilbourne on http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

When was your last fire or emergency evacuation drill? If more than 6 months ago, it’s time to think about staging another. Careful planning and evaluation can help you get the most out of your drills.

Some types of occupancies like schools and healthcare facilities are required to conduct periodic fire drills. Industrial workplaces are not required to have fire drills, but they are required to have an emergency evacuation plan and to train workers in that plan.

A drill gives workers valuable experience that will enhance their chances of getting out alive in an emergency.

When you plan your drills, consider that:

  • Unannounced drills give you an idea of how workers might actually react in an emergency situation.
  • Announced drills give workers a chance to consciously prepare for and practice specific skill sets they might need.
  • Workers in all departments and on all shifts need to practice emergency evacuations.

Preparing for Emergency Evacuations

Before an emergency arises, workers need to know:

  • How to activate the appropriate alarm system in an emergency
  • How and when to contact the fire department
  • What to do before they evacuate—for example, initiate equipment shutdown
  • What their role in the evacuation will be—for example, do they need to assist disabled co-workers, assist contractors or visitors in the building, bring essential items like visitor logs that can be used to verify that everyone is out of the building, provide first aid for injured co-workers, or act to prevent or minimize hazardous chemical releases?
  • How to evacuate from their work area by at least two different routes
  • Locations of stairwells (workers should not use elevators to evacuate)
  • Areas to avoid—for example, hazardous materials storage areas
  • Assembly points outside the building

After the Drill

Evaluate your drills and determine which deficiencies need to be addressed. Ask:

  • Did anyone ignore the alarm?
  • Did everyone know what to do?
  • Did everyone make it to the assembly point?
  • How long did it take?
  • Do any gaps need to be filled? For example, is a worker trained in first aid available on all shifts?