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Fire Evacuation Dos and Don’ts – What to do if a fire alarm goes off?

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In the event of an emergency, it can be difficult to keep our wits about us enough to remember what to do and how to do it correctly. Imagine a fire alarm sounding off in your building and the smell of burning wafting along the corridor to your office. At the first hint of danger, your brain will go into panic mode, and you’re going to forget half the things you thought you knew about fire safety.

However, if you make fire safety a priority in your workplace, a real-life emergency shouldn’t have to end in disaster. In fact, regular fire safety training can help you to react to a real fire with an educated response, giving you and your colleagues a greater chance of making it to safety faster, and even lowering your building’s chances of being seriously damaged in a fire.

Here are our top Fire Evacuation Do’s and Don’ts to help you know what to do when a fire alarm goes off in your workplace.

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DO: React quickly

There’s no time to waste when it comes to a real-life fire. This is an emergency situation, so as soon as you hear a fire alarm, get yourself out of your seat and exit the building via the fire exits as quickly as possible. Fire spreads fast, and you don’t always know how long you’ve got before your means of escape are blocked. This means there’s no time to go back for any personal items or to grab your lunch out of the fridge—grab whatever you need that is within reach and evacuate the building immediately.

DON’T: Ignore a fire alarm

No matter if you’re used to hearing the fire alarms being tested or getting set off by someone in the kitchen burning their toast—if you hear a fire alarm, you should never ignore it. Treat every alarm as a real fire and evacuate immediately. Ignoring a fire alarm could quite seriously cost you your life.

Did you know that based on a workplace experiment, 13% of people ignored a fire alarm and carried on working, around a quarter would look to others to see their reaction before acting out, and only 4% would attempt to find the fire?

DO: Practice fire evacuation procedures regularly

It isn’t enough to simply test your fire alarms regularly. You also need to make sure that everyone in your workplace is familiar with the evacuation process in the event of a fire, so practice evacuating regularly too. Every time you hear the fire alarm go off, your immediate response should be to evacuate to safety without stopping to wonder if today’s alarm is a fire drill or the real thing.

DON’T: Leave fire doors open

This advice should be taken at all times, not only in the event of an evacuation. Do not leave fire doors open for any length of time. They must always be kept closed. Most fire doors can hold a fire back for around 30 minutes, buying you valuable time during a real-life evacuation. This is why you should close every fire door you walk through at all times, but especially so in the event of a fire.

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DO: Have a designated fire warden or marshal

Every workplace should have at least one designated person who is responsible for fire safety, typically referred to as the fire warden or fire marshal. This individual will be the one who takes a register in the event of a fire evacuation and liaises with the emergency services about all necessary fire-related information. Where possible, they will also be responsible for ensuring that everyone evacuates the building safely.

To become a fully qualified fire marshal or fire warden, we recommend taking the face-to-face fire warden training course.

DON’T: Block fire escape routes

Although fire escape routes might not be used often, you should never block a fire escape route or otherwise make it inaccessible in the event of an emergency. At all times, keep fire exits clear of obstacles. This includes any pathway, room, or corridor leading up to the fire exit, both inside and outside the building. You will need clear access in the event of a real fire. If the room was full of thick smoke and there was no light to see, would you be able to get to the fire escape routes quickly, safely, and without obstruction?

DO: Create PEEPs for vulnerable individuals

A PEEP (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan) is a plan designed for individuals with disabilities or vulnerabilities who might not be able to evacuate a building via the regular fire escape routes in the event of an emergency. Everyone this applies to in your building should have a tailor-made PEEP, which the fire warden/marshal and any other responsible persons should be aware of in order to pass the information on to the emergency services when they arrive at the scene.

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DON’T: Return to a building that is on fire

Under no circumstances should you ever re-enter a building that is on fire. Doing so could seriously endanger your life, as there is no way of being certain that you will find your way out of the building again. Evacuate to safety and remain out of the building until either the emergency services arrive and declare the building safe to enter, or the evacuation is confirmed as a false alarm.

DO: Have a clear assembly point

You should have an assembly point for everyone in your building to gather at in the event of a fire. This should be a safe distance from the building and should be clearly signposted to avoid confusion. Make sure that everyone in your building assembles at this point when the fire alarm goes off, at least until a register has been taken, so that there is no confusion over anybody’s whereabouts.

ALWAYS: Take fire safety training

Fire safety training can prepare you with life-saving knowledge about what to do and how to act in the event of an emergency

Click here now to browse our available online fire safety courses, or if you would like to learn in a face-to-face environment with an experienced ex-emergency services trainer, please click here to learn more about our face-to-face fire safety training courses.

For more information about our accredited fire safety training courses, or to speak to a member of our friendly customer support team, you can get in touch by calling the office on 01327 552160, email us at help@firetrainingcompany.co.uk, or use the live chat feature available on this website to chat to us during office hours.

The Fire Training Company is open from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.