A guide guide for businesses in creating an effective fire escape plan.
Fire is one of the many risks that may cause significant damage to a business and the causes can be varied, ranging from electrical, chemical, accidents, or even external factors such as bushfires. Fire is devastating. It leads to:
- Loss of life
- Serious injuries
- Loss or damage of property
- Loss of important documents
- Damage to the surrounding community and the environment
For these reasons, every office and business operation in Australian should have an established fire escape plan so that it does not become necessary to leave the business premises, employees, and everything that has been worked so hard for in the wake of a blaze.
Establishing a fire escape plan and investing in evacuation training can save the lives of the heart of the business: Its people. Additionally, it can help reduce damage to property and diminish the risk of business disruption.
Fire Escape Plans are law
Under the law, it is the duty and responsibility of the employer to ensure the safety of all employees. The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 2004 states that an employer must make sure to eliminate risks to the health and safety of his personnel. An employer, at all times, must maintain a safe and healthy working environment and provide sufficient information, instruction, training, and supervision so that all employees can work safely.
But what makes an effective fire escape plan? How can a fire escape plan be useful in the event of a fire emergency on the premises?
A quick guide to building effective Fire Escape Plans
While there is no single perfect fire escape plan, it is possible to create one that is business specific. Every business is different, so copying a fire escape plan and emergency procedure manual created for another is not in the business’ best interest. Here are some factors to consider when forming a business fire escape plan:
1. Follow Legal Standards
The legal standards were formulated to enforce safety regulations and to minimise the presence of risks and hazards in the workplace as much as possible. Here are a few of the Acts and Standards to consider when drafting a business fire escape plan:
- The Occupational Health and Safety Act
- The Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations
- The National Construction Code of Australia
- Australian Standard 3745 Planning for emergencies in facilities
- Australian Standard MP 24 Use of lifts in emergencies
- Australian Standard 1603 Automatic fire detection and alarm systems
Ensure the escape plan is based on generally accepted facts and research and ensure to check out other related standards, acts and regulations that may apply.
2. Get expert help
Safety is not something to be taken lightly. An effective emergency response cannot just be left in the hands of an inexperienced employee. As such, a consulting company can help immensely.
Hiring a consultant with vast experience in safety and evacuation planning will make for a fully effective fire escape plan. Since they have been in the business for years, Adair Evacuation Consultants can see details that others would usually miss. These professionals will work with you, understand your operation, and even provide training for your employees on the proper fire emergency response.
3. Identify fire hazards
Make sure to look for potential fire hazards on the premises, identifying them and their locations to build the framework for a successful safe escape route. Also, discuss identified hazards the whole team, or at least a designated fire safety team. Ensure that flammable substances are properly contained and labelled and isolate them from workers or invest in a storage facility that will reduce fire risks and hazards. Regular maintenance and housekeeping will also help to avoid accidents that may result in a fire.
4. Identify escape routes and safe areas
Mark the exits and escape routes properly. During emergencies, panic can set in. Guide workers during this time with visible signs that direct them toward safety. Access ways and exits must be marked and must always be free from obstacles.
Fire escapes and access ways must also comply with the Australian Standard and the Building Code of Australia. They must be well-lit and lighted if necessary. This will allow employees to see them even when the power goes out.
Identify safe areas that are away from the identified fire hazards. These should be marked in evacuation diagrams and maps, which are then posted in places where most employees have access.
5. Include Emergency Response Team names and contact details
Selecting individuals who will have the critical role of coordinating and leading on site stakeholders during an emergency is a vital part of the planning. Employees should know who these coordinators are and must accept and understand that these coordinators have the authority to make decisions for the safety of everyone, during emergencies and evacuations.
6. Include Emergency reporting methods
In the event of an emergency, the company should have an established and preferred method of reporting and everyone should know who to contact and how to contact them. The earlier that an accident is reported, the better it is for everyone on the premises.
7. Be inclusive
All fire escape plans should consider persons with disabilities, seniors, pregnant women and employees who speak a different language. Exits should be accessible for everyone and signs must be understandable by everyone, in a universal language (symbols and images).
8. Include training and annual fire drill provisions
Emergency coordinators must be trained on how to respond to all emergency situations and employees must also be well-informed on what they should do in case of an emergency. Emergency training and regular fire drills can help align everyone on their roles and responsibilities in the event of a fire in the vicinity.
Let Adair Evacuation Consultants help you.
We at Adair understand that you want to protect your people and your business. We will help you create a fire escape plan that will ensure the safety of your men and women. From risk management to training, education, and emergency procedure documentation, we will help you create a safe and productive working environment. Visit us at adairevac.com.au or call us on 1300213000 today, to grow and maintain the fire safety of your business.