What is a fire evacuation strategy?
The primary objective of an evacuation strategy is to make sure (in the event of a fire) the occupants of abuilding can reach a place of ultimate safety outside the building. Evacuation procedures are an essential part of the overall fire strategy.
What is a FEEP?
A Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan (FEEP) is a document which explains what actions are to be taken by staff in the event of a fire alarm actuating.
A FEEP should be a clear and logical plan that can be remembered and followed by all employees or residents in the event of a fire incident. All employees or residents should be informed of the plans during their and induction and reminded regularly and the plan should be displayed. The plan should be tested by means of fire drills with the results monitored and any improvements made to the FEEP if needed.
Why do I need a fire evacuation strategy?
The short answer is it saves people's lives. Many people simply do not know what to do during an emergency, so having a clear evacuation strategy means that people are more prepared.
What is a fire evacuation strategy and what are the best strategies?
The primary objective of an evacuation strategy is to make sure (in the event of a fire) the occupants of a building can reach a place of ultimate safety outside the building. Evacuation procedures are an essential part of the overall fire strategy.
What Is Total Evacuation?
Total evacuation entails moving all the occupants in the premises to a location of ultimate safety. This movement of occupants away from danger can either be simultaneous or phased.
Simultaneous evacuation will be the evacuation plan that the majority of establishments will employ, especially small businesses, given how they’re not that big and have few storey floors. It will see everybody exit the building – in reaction to the alarm signal given when a fire erupts – in a calm and collected way.
Phased evacuation can be incorporated where there are fire-resisting materials included in the building’s architecture. In this strategy, the first individuals to move out of the building are those with impaired capability and those in close proximity to the fire, unless their PEEP mandates otherwise.
The remaining places are then cleared out in phases. The phase intervals can either be ‘vertical phased’ or ‘horizontal phased’ evacuation. In a building employing the phased strategy, avoid evacuating simultaneously to avoid the escape routes exceeding the capacity population of efficient movement.
What Is Progressive Evacuation?
Progressive evacuation involves first moving inhabitants to a relatively safe location within the premises where they can stay or, if needed, finish the evacuation procedure safely as per their personal emergency evacuation plan. Progressive evacuation is split into:
Progressive Horizontal Evacuation
Progressive horizontal evacuation entails moving people to an adjoining fire section on the same floor, from where they can clear out to a location of ultimate safety.
This evacuation strategy may be suitable for institutions such as care homes and hospitals, where fire-resistant rooms are available or locations where treatment can proceed until the fire has been put out.
You should note that horizontal evacuations are risky and take time, so extra fire precautions may be needed. This includes fore control areas, voice alarm systems, fire extinguishers, sprinklers distributed appropriately, or compartmentation of the building(using fire-resistant materials).
Zoned evacuation is accomplished by clearing out occupants from the affected area to a nearby controlled zone as the fire is being brought under control. At this juncture, you can do a head count to see if everybody is present.
What is Two-staged Evacuation?
Certain instances where triggering an alarm for instant evacuation are not the right call, like in theatres and cinemas. This is because of the large number of people and the need for personnel/stewards to implement protocols set for the safe evacuation of people from the premises; overcrowding and panic will only mess up the whole evacuation process, which is dangerous for everybody.
In these cases, a ‘silent’ staff alarm system should be issued to employees, such that they only are aware of the imminent threat. The alert can prompt staff to start executing fire evacuation protocols and set the main alarm when everything is ready.
What Is Defend in Place?
Certain situations may need the inhabitants inside the building to remain right where they are and allow the firefighters to put out the fire. This approach depends on fire fighting measures undertaken to protect the delegated areas.
This strategy is perfect for healthcare facilities where occupants don’t have the ability to move. In most cases, the occupants in question may rely on life-supporting machinery and other essential equipment. The ‘defend in place’ approach of handling fires enables the hospital staff to keep patients where they are as they continue to receive treatment.
What is Stay Put?
In a ‘stay put’ approach, when there’s a single flat fire, the inhabitants of that flat will clear out, and all the remaining occupants in the flat will be safe only if they remain where they are
A ‘Stay Put’ policy approach entails the following:
- When a fire erupts in a flat, the inhabitants warn other occupants inhabiting the flat, get out of the premises calmly and call the fire brigade for immediate help.
- If a fire erupts in common areas of the building, anybody in that area should get out of the building and call the Fire and Rescue immediately.
- All other occupants not in immediate danger of the fire would preferably remain where they are unless otherwise instructed by the Fire and Rescue Service
However, this doesn’t suggest that inhabitants not directly affected by the fire who want to get out of the building should be impeded. Nor does it stop those clearing out of a flat that’s on fire from warning their flat neighbours of the danger, allowing them also to evacuate if they don’t feel safe.
There isn’t any Building regulation in place that provides passive or active fire protection guidelines, which would enable another option to the Stay Put Strategy.
What is the best fire evacuation strategy?
The question of what the best evacuation strategy is to employ in your premises is entirely contingent on the nature and size of your establishment and the occupants within it.
In general, there will be some components of fire evacuation strategies that will apply to almost every establishment, like having fire marshals or wardens take charge of the situation. This is because having a calm and level-headed mind in that scenario is key to guaranteeing the safety of everyone in the building at the time.
One of the key responsibilities of the fire marshal or warden is surveying the escape routes; before they lead people in that direction, they must first ascertain the escape route is free of smoke and safe to pass through.
For instance, if the fire marshal or warden notices that the stairwell is hastily filling up with smoke or the door knobs have become red-hot, they will know they have to look for another escape route that hasn’t become compromised.
Who is responsible for implementing, managing, and enforcing the strategy?
The person responsible for ensuring a suitable strategy is in place, managed, and enforced is the 'Responsible Person" as defined under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 - as is the case with the majority of the requirements of this legislation. This tends to be the property owner or, the employer where they have control of the premises.
However, while the Responsible Person may be accountable for all of the above, they may not be suitably trained, experienced, or knowledgeable enough to complete this alone. Hence why "Competent Persons" are required to assist the Responsible Person where they do have the skillset to ensure the appropriate preventative and protective measures are implemented. There's no specific requirement for a competent person, only that they should have the appropriate level of experience, training, and knowledge to advise on the matter. Often this is afire safety consultant or managing agent.
How to write a Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan (FEEP)
The main priority when writing a Fire Evacuation Plan is ensuring that you are considering all possible routes and precautions for any circumstance. This could be anything from making sure PEEPS and GLEEPS are in place for all those who may not be able-bodied, to recognising and indicating where features such as emergency lighting, stairs, ramps and the evacuation point are located.
Start with writing down the route that occupants should take to ensure the quickest escape. Walk around your building and take note of whether that route is obstructed, or does not have sufficient emergency lighting, and make sure to amend these issues immediately.
Next, implement a strategy such as Velcro sheets. This tool allows dedicated Fire Wardens/Marshalls the opportunity to sweep each room for occupants who are struggling to escape the building promptly.
Once you have covered the above, make sure to train your staff & occupants on the fire evacuation plan and allow the practice of it at least every six months.
What to consider in an Evacuation?
When a fire occurs in your premises or place of work while moving out of the building, there are certain things you should bear in mind if you and others are to reach your designated area safely for a headcount to ensure that nobody has been left behind.
- If you are the first to identify fire, you must signal a warning by using the nearest fire alarm installation point.
- Make sure to secure any guests on the premises and ensure they have been escorted from the place of danger.
- Move out of the building and head to the designated assembly point.
- When you arrive at the allotted safe location of the building, stay put.
- Only get to the building when you’ve been given the go-ahead.
- Get into the lift (unless it has specifically been chosen as a secure place of refuge or a viable escape route).
- Run during escape protocols since this will create panic and likely result in accidents as people frenzy to escape safety.
- Go back into the building to collect personal items.
- Try firefighting unless you are certified to do so. E.g. a fire marshal or warden.
How can Summit Environmental help?
· Fire evacuation strategy
· Fire Risk Assessments
· Fire marshal training