Why do you need a fire evacuation plan for your business?
Every type of business can have some degree of fire risk. An office that has a cafeteria area may have cooking appliances or stoves that can catch fire. A building may have an electrical closet that could be overloaded and an electrical fire could spark. Any small warehouse may have cleaning chemicals where the fumes could ignite. Storage areas could be too close to heating systems or other equipment that could cause boxes to catch fire.
With fire risks everywhere, your business needs to have a plan in place that includes a fire evacuation plan. Before it is too late, review the following tips to help you assemble the best fire evacuation plan for your location:
- Know your risks – a fire risk assessment is a good way to start your emergency plan. By knowing your levels of risks and the types of fires that could occur at your business, you can better tailor your plan so that it is most effective. Some locations may have a higher risk of a grease fire from a kitchen than others. Hospitals or schools may have issues with electrical closets, switchboards, or cleaning chemical storage. All types of fire risks should be assessed so that you can be informed on how to construct your plan.
- Reporting the emergency – one of the most important parts of your emergency plan should be the process for notifying others of the emergency. Is there a fire alarm that should be triggered? Is there a phone number that should be called? Include this as the first part of your emergency plan.
- Where to evacuate – once an emergency occurs, personnel need to know where to exit in the safest way possible. Your plan needs to include maps and instructions on the evacuation procedures showing the safest routes to take. Also signage should be posted to indicate exits and maps showing the nearest exits should be easily available.
- Fire safety equipment – locations of fire safety equipment should be easily identified. Fire extinguishers, hoses, hydrants, blankets and other safety equipment should be accessible to help in fighting any fire. Note that the types of fire extinguishers should coincide with the types of fire risks. An electrical fire, for example, would need a specific type of fire extinguisher, and not a water hose.
- Contact information – key contact names and numbers should be available in the fire evacuation plan. This will facilitate communication and keep everyone properly informed. Also a checklist of employees and any visitors should be available so that all personnel can be accounted for during the emergency.
- Operating equipment – if there are any types of equipment that is running, the emergency plan should indicate if the machinery should be shut down and what the procedures are to shut down the equipment. Also personnel should be educated on when to abandon equipment in order to save their lives.
- Gathering point – a specified location should be indicated in the plan that is a safe distance away from the building and allows personnel to gather and report their status.