A Guide to Effective Fire Drills

Fire drills are a vital safety precaution and legal necessity, for any building. Like fire prevention products, fire drills are an indirect and significant form of fire protection. It protects everyone who works or resides within a property from the devastating consequences of fire.

What is a Fire Drill?

A fire drill is a simulated emergency operation that replicates the procedures to be followed in the case of a fire. It entails simulating what would occur if a real fire broke out in your property.

Fire drills are a good way to assess your evacuation plans. They’re a great way to see how effective your emergency preparations are since they allow you to immediately spot any weakness or flaw and make any necessary changes as a result.

Why Do You Need a Fire Drill?

The main reason for fire drills is to find out how people behave in high-pressure situations and whether they know what to do in case of a fire. Fire drills allow occupants of a property to practice evacuation procedures in a realistic environment. This ensures that they are completely informed about the fire escape processes.

The more familiar you are with the fire drill protocols, the more likely you are to be safe and sound if an emergency occurs. Regular fire drills can reinforce proper procedures, alleviating anxiety and uncertainty for all parties involved. Fire drills also allow you to assess how effective the evacuation method and exit routes are and this will help you identify whether any improvements are required for the property or the fire safety plan. 

The most important thing to remember is that it is mandatory to conduct fire drills at your building on a regular basis. 

What to Do Before a Fire Drill?

The Fire warden for the building or the floor must ensure that each member in his team:

  • Is aware of the building’s evacuation procedures, nearest exits and assembly points.
  • Is familiar with the location of the alarms and the procedure for evacuating in the case of an alarm.
  • Receive some basic instruction in the usage of fire extinguishers.

What to Do/Not Do During a Fire Drill?

Behaving properly in a fire drill will prepare you to respond calmly and safely in case of a real fire.

  • When you hear the fire alarm, don’t panic. It’s crucial to maintain calm so that you can hear any instructions given.
  • Treat any fire alarm (whether or not you know that it is for the purpose of a fire drill) as an actual fire occurrence.
  • When you hear the alarm, you must immediately stop whatever you are doing. It is recommended you leave everything behind if possible and walk towards your nearest exit.
  • Begin evacuating the building. Consider the location of the nearest exit. As you leave the room, try to leave in a tidy manner if there are other people with you. 
  • Once you exit the room, form a line. Do not begin to run. Before a fire drill, if at all possible, learn how to go to the nearest fire exit.
  • When you’re in a new facility, it’s always a good idea to double-check your route. Your fire warden should also be able to guide you. Remember that you should never use an elevator in an emergency escape.
  • Close the door behind you if you are the final person out of the room. Ensure the door is not locked. Closing the door can help delay the fire. This is because less oxygen may enter the room and it also reduces the amount of smoke and heat that enters adjacent rooms.
  • Keep the lights turned on. As you leave the room, do not turn off the lights. Leaving the lights on will make it easier for firemen to see.
  • When it’s time to escape, metal clad doors give a safe and quick means of escape. During a fire, fire-rated doors are important for keeping people safe. They also reduce property damage. Fire steel doors prevent the spread of fire and smoke for up to three hours. 
  • When there’s a genuine fire, you have to check the doors for heat as you approach them. Place your hand near the door to test if it is radiating heat and look for smoke coming from below it. If neither of these symptoms are present, gently touch the door handle to test if it is warm. If you see any of these signals in a real fire, you must take a different path.
  • If there is a real fire, the structure may collapse. You need to ensure that the sidewalks are clear so that the firemen can do their job. Firefighters cannot get through if there are too many people crowded on the walkways.
  • If there is a real fire, you should go as far away from the building as possible. If required, cross the street. Your fire warden will guide you to an evacuation point or assembly area where you would be safe if anything major happened. 
  • You should not think that just because the fire alarm has stopped that you are free to enter the building. Wait until the firemen or another authority figure such as the fire warden informs you that it’s safe to return inside. You can continue your usual activities after you’re given the all clear. 
  • Depending on the type of the alarm system in place, there may be a wait for the alarm to fully reset before the building can be securely re-occupied.
  • Always stay calm and pay attention to those in positions of authority and their directions.

How Long Will a Fire Drill Take?

There is no exact time limit on how long a fire exercise should last. It is determined by the number of individuals engaged, the building’s size, layout, and other factors. 

Someone in charge of fire safety will keep track of the entire response time. They would provide input on what might have been done better to keep the timing at a minimum.

It is not uncommon for certain fire drills to run far longer than usual. Unfortunately, this merely highlights the need for more frequent training. 

How Often Must Fire Drill Be Conducted?

To some extent, this is determined by the working environment. If you work in a workplace where substantial fire hazards exist most of the time or all of the time, then it’s a good idea to practice drills at least once every three months. But, if reaction times are slow, it may be essential to conduct them more frequently until everyone understands and responds appropriately.

In lower-risk locations, on the other hand, it’s acceptable to conduct fire drills on a less frequent basis. Every business, including every department, building, location, and so on, should perform at least one fire drill each year, and if response times are inadequate, this should be repeated until everyone responds successfully.

It is important to have hard copies or images of emergency response procedures at key locations to guarantee that all people are familiar with exit procedures. In the case of a work environment, employees and employers must be aware of a number of factors to effectively deal with a workplace fire. Fire drills and training help staff members respond swiftly, calmly, and safely in the event of a fire.