Putting Together an Effective Fire Evacuation Plan

In 2020/2021 alone, there were 4,057 reported primary fires that involved an emergency evacuation and 240 fire-related fatalities. Not only do these figures indicate the importance of making sure your fire and electrical safety measures are up to scratch, but also that your evacuation plan should be completely faultless.

What is a fire evacuation plan?

Your business’s emergency fire evacuation plan is an integral part of your Fire Risk Assessment so it needs to be robust and well-rehearsed so your employees and anyone else on the premises can reach a point of safety as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.

What should be included in my fire evacuation plan?

The information included in your fire evacuation plan will depend on the size and complexity of your building. Because your emergency fire evacuation plan plays such a vital role in supporting the safe evacuation during a fire, there are a couple of key parts that make up an effective one:

1.   Fire evacuation strategy

You will need to consider how your premises will be evacuated in an emergency which should have already been identified in your Fire Risk Assessment. It’s important to remember that no premises’ evacuation plan is the same and that the complexity of your premises will determine how straightforward or elaborate your emergency fire evacuation plan needs to be.

For example, a single storey building with no sleeping risks or a building that doesn’t store chemicals or other hazardous materials will have a much simpler evacuation plan compared to say, a high-rise chemical plant due to the obvious risks and hazards that are present.

2. Established roles and responsibilities

To be effective, your emergency fire evacuation plan should clearly outline who has specific duties and certain levels of responsibility in the event of a fire. A few examples of the responsibilities that should be considered in your fire evacuation plan include someone who:

  • Liaises with the fire rescue services
  • Supports with evacuating everyone on the premises (these are likely to be your appointed fire wardens and marshals)
  • Meets all evacuated people at the designated assembly point and carries out a roll call to make sure everyone is accounted for
  • Has overall responsibility of completing and updating the emergency fire evacuation plan

To find out more about the certain responsibilities that play a key part in a safe evacuation, check out our fire safety roles and responsibilities article.

3.   Clear emergency lighting

If a fire breaks out on any premises, people will search for the nearest escape route and well-maintained emergency lights will make them easier to spot – especially if the fire causes a power outage. There are four kinds of emergency lights that can be found across different types of businesses:

  • Escape route lighting: Also known as ‘exit route lighting’, this type of lighting illuminates the way through fire escapes and emergency exits so people are clearly directed to a point of safety.
  • Open area emergency lighting: This type of emergency lighting can also be referred to as ‘anti-panic lighting’ and helps people find a safe escape out of the building. Businesses tend to install these lights in open areas so people can still clearly find a point of safety almost straight away.
  • High-risk task area lighting: This lighting is commonly found in factories, workshops, and warehouses where high-risk tasks are taking place. This lighting indicates to employees that they need to stop working and close their stations as efficiently as possible. It’s especially effective in these types of settings because employees might wear ear defenders to protect their ears if they work in a noisy environment, so they need emergency lighting to grab their attention as listening out for fire alarms may be a challenge.
  • Standby lighting: This kind of lighting kicks in when the power goes out and is fuelled from a diesel generator until the technician comes out to restore your business’s main power.

It’s important to note that these four types of emergency lights might not all apply to your business, but there’s a chance you might have more than one kind installed in your premises.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, business owners are legally required to make sure their fire safety measures are up to date and well maintained and that includes your emergency lighting. To make sure your emergency lights are up to scratch and up to the job should they ever need to be, check out our guide on Emergency Light Testing.

4.   Determined escape routes, nearest exits, and assembly points

What use is an evacuation plan if your employees, customers, and visitors don’t know where to evacuate to? Depending on the size of your business, you might have more than one assembly point so it’s important everyone on the premises knows where their nearest one is so they can evacuate to it safely.

You might communicate this key bit of information through your fire safety training, floor plan diagrams, or clear signage across the workplace.

5.   Considerations for vulnerable people

If your business has vulnerable employees or you’re a public building that opens its doors to new people every day, and therefore possible vulnerable people, it’s essential they’re considered when putting your emergency evacuation plan together. To make sure they can evacuate safely, a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) should be put in place to outline:

  • The assembly points, safe escape routes, and nearest exits
  • Who’s responsible for supporting the vulnerable people in an evacuation
  • Any equipment that might be required to help with the evacuation such as evacuation chairs, lifts, or pager systems for example.

How do I know if my evacuation plan is up to scratch?

Practice makes perfect! Your responsible person should carry out routine evacuation drills and regularly reviews your business’s fire safety procedures to ensure that an emergency evacuation runs smoothly should one happen.

What else can I do to achieve a smooth evacuation process?

Along with making sure the above points are ticked off, checking all your fire prevention and protection equipment are up to date with their servicing will help guarantee they’re up to the job should they need to be.

How Citation Fire & Electrical can help

As a BAFE registered fire safety compliance provider, we work towards fire safety standards so you can rest assured you’re receiving the best service possible.

If you need support checking your fire protection and prevention equipment complies with safety regulations and can protect your business and people in the event of a fire, our highly skilled assessors can offer Fire Alarm Maintenance, Fire Extinguisher Servicing, Emergency Light Testing and support with your Fire Risk Assessments. To get in touch with the team, call 0800 055 6559 or just fill in our callback form to find out more.

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