Fire drills are a legal requirement under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and if you think about it, it makes perfect sense to practice your evacuations in case you ever need to carry out the real thing!
As the old saying goes “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Unfortunately this also true when thinking about your fire safety measures. Having a sound evacuation plan is step one, step two is sharing that plan with your staff and conducting periodic practice drills.
By practising your evacuation, you will be testing it for flaws and weaknesses. When any evacuation strategy is first constructed on paper, it looks sound – however, there will almost certainly be lessons to be found by carrying out a practical demonstration of your strategy. The drill will provide the perfect practice opportunity for your fire wardens to get carry out the evacuation plan. Use the drill as a serious tool for improving your evacuation strategy, record your findings and make time to analyse what went well and what didn’t.
The second reason involves your staff and their attitude towards fire safety. By carrying out regular drills you will be reinforcing your commitment to their safety and they will take your safety strategy more seriously. If staff are well practised in what to do during a fire emergency, they are far better placed to act responsibly, efficiently and safely should an emergency ever occur.
The frequency of your drills will vary and should be identified in your fire risk assessment. A good rule of thumb is to start with two per year.
There are arguments for and against making staff aware of fire drills before they happen. Some argue that not informing the staff gives an element of surprise so that people take drills more seriously. However, the advantage of informing staff beforehand means that should the alarm ever sound, staff will know it’s a real emergency situation and they should evacuate immediately.