All workplaces must put a plan together which describes detailed information of what actions must be carried out and by whom in the event of an emergency such as fire, it is the responsibility of the business owner either to create an emergency plan or designate this to a qualified assessor or manager to write up, the emergency plan in this article is specifically related to fire, depending on the size and nature of the workplace there may be nominated people to carry out specific tasks in the event of an emergency, for example, in industrial manufacturing plants designated staff duties might involve the shutting down of machinery by pressing the emergency stop button to instantly stop machinery and equipment, releasing safety latches to cover up flammable liquids or closing fire doors which houses flammable goods, in other workplaces such as offices there may be nominated fire wardens or marshals who have duties to ensure the building is clear of all staff, visitors, contractors and where appropriate the general public.
At this point it is worth reminding everyone that this is only a fire drill and it is a practice of what has been documented in the emergency plan, the outcome of the fire drills carried out will provide business owners and managers with vital information such as the time it took for the building to be completely evacuated from hearing the fire alarm, please don't confuse fire drills with fire alarm testing as they are two separate things in relation to this article, from the fire drill, managers must ask key staff with specific duties to observe and record timings, hazards or obstacles which may have been present during the drill and could have a factor on delaying the evacuation of the building.
Other things to consider during fire drills are catering for the disabled, whether visually impaired or mobility impaired it is vital you have their escape routes or refuge points documented in the emergency plan, are wheelchair user's provided with a designated fire protected refuge point? ask for their feedback, did they feel safe and comfortable? and also consider the people who have been evacuated, is the weather poor? if it is cold and raining considers issuing emergency foil blankets at the emergency fire assembly points. Ensuring all staff are accounted for is vital not only for missing people but for the emergency services, if someone is not accounted for but are safely out of the building it could put fire fighters lives at risk by looking for someone inside a burning building when they are actually safe and secure so consider tracking your staff as well as always keeping a created record of their presence or absence in the workplace is certainly one simple method of handling the accountability challenge.
Fire drills can be carried out as regular as you like, the exercise, following feedback from staff with designated fire duties and managers is vital and must be recorded and documented, where improvements can be made ensure one improvement does not have a detrimental effect on other people or areas of the workplace, share and discuss your emergency plans with your local fire authority, they may provide key advice and improvements which can help evacuate the occupants quicker and safer to improve any emergency evacuations.