Under UK law, all employers are responsible for the health and wellbeing of their staff. Fire safety certainly falls under that remit, and fire drills play a key role in ensuring employees at all levels of the organisation know what is expected of them in the event of a fire breaking out.
Home Office data reveals that the emergency services attended 153,278 fires in England in 2020, a 3% decrease in comparison to the previous year. Those numbers relate to incidents across all locations, not just workplaces, and the fall in cases represents a positive trend.
Even so, businesses must do all they can to protect workers, and regular drills can improve their knowledge and understanding of the protocols involved. This is the ultimate guide to carrying out an effective, efficient fire drill.
What is a fire drill?
A fire drill is essentially a practice run of what would happen if a real fire broke out in the workplace. To signify the start of the drill, the alarm will be sounded, which is the cue for all members of staff to evacuate the premises in a calm, orderly fashion.
Why is it necessary?
No matter what the setting – whether it be an office, a warehouse or anything in between – site safety products from retailers such as RS, are absolutely paramount and fire drills can help to ensure the wellbeing of all employees. They offer the opportunity for businesses to review their safety protocols by identifying areas that could be improved and implementing changes so that if a real fire did break out, staff would be in a position to leave the building as quickly as possible.
Who is in charge of a fire drill?
Legally speaking, the ‘responsible person’ is the owner, occupier or manager of the building. This means they are in charge of ensuring all the guidelines are strictly followed. In most cases, one or more fire safety officers will be appointed. They are usually provided with a high-visibility vest to wear during the drill, for which the proper undertaking is their responsibility.
How often should they be undertaken?
Fire drills should be carried out at least once a year, although many workplaces choose to hold them more frequently. Fire alarms are usually tested on a weekly basis, although this is only done very briefly and does not require an evacuation.
How to conduct a fire drill effectively
Before the drill, it may help to inform staff and any visitors that it is about to take place. When the alarm sounds, fire safety offers should direct their colleagues to the fire exits, making sure everyone follows the guidelines and heads to the correct door.
All rooms should be checked to ensure they have been vacated and a head count and roll call should be conducted once everyone has gathered outside at the designated point. Once the drill has finished, staff should be encouraged to head back inside while the fire safety officer records a log of the drill and makes a note of any problems or issues.