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This article contains two sections; one for the home and one for businesses.
The following guide is aimed at helping you to create and raise awareness of your fire escape route, so whether you are at home or at work, you have a greater chance of escaping a fire unharmed.
A successful escape plan depends on the full understanding from everyone in your household. Make sure that everyone understands the escape plan to help minimise uncertainty and avoid life-threatening errors.
1. Establish accessible, uncluttered escape points so that your family knows where they should aim to reach. Choosing several of these will help to keep their options open, depending on where the fire starts.
2. Establish an outside assembly point. This might be a neighbour’s house, a streetlamp, a local shop. Most workplace fire procedures outline one or two assembly points; your home fire escape plan should be no different. Choose somewhere nearby, a safe distance from your home.
3. Remind everyone of the importance of calling the Fire Service at the earliest safe opportunity. This could be from a mobile device or a neighbour’s phone. The timely arrival of emergency services can mean the difference between a kitchen fire and a condemned house.
4. If your household includes children, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities, establish beforehand who is going to assist them. Assign more than one person, so that you always have a backup. Make sure that everyone is accounted for.
5. Be sure to include house guests in your considerations. You might plan how you would evacuate visitors in the event of a fire, or better still mention the escape plan to guests when they first visit.
However you choose to address the situation, make sure that your guests are well-informed. In the event of a fire, plan to vacate the building quickly and calmly. Do not stop for personal belongings but follow your predetermined fire escape plan to the best of your ability.
Note: Under no circumstances should you re-enter the building until it is safe to do so. This means receiving the approval of the Fire Services. If one of your family members or guests have failed to make it out of the building, inform the Fire Services as early as possible.
As a business owner, manager, or designated FSO (Fire Safety Officer), it may well fall to you to design the fire escape plan for your business. If this is the case, you will need to give your fire escape route extra thought, in order to take into consideration your employees, visiting customers and the legalities surrounding fire safety in the workplace.
Your fire escape route will depend hugely on the kind of business you operate, as well as the size and scale of your operations. GOV.UK offers some excellent advice on fire safety in the workplace; a comprehensive examination of their guidelines follows:
1. A clear passageway to all escape routes. Escape routes need to be clear of obstacles in order to be effective. Most businesses incorporate this into their fire training, ensuring staff members know not to block escape routes with stock, stacks or other shop floor debris.
2. Clearly marked escape routes that are as short and direct as possible. Escape routes should provide the best possible means of safe access in the event of a fire. Choose locations that will connect people quickly with exits, away from high risk fire hazards. Ensure signage is used where necessary.
3. Enough exits and routes for all people to escape. This will depend on the size and popularity of your business premises. If you experience large volumes of footfall or employ a generous team of staff, make sure this is reflected in your fire safety measures.
4. Emergency doors that open easily. Source your fire exit doors from a reputable company with genuine concern for the safety and security of their customers. Look for high quality fire exit doors. Do not settle for anything less than 4 hours’ flame protection, in order to keep your staff and your business as safe as possible.
5. Emergency lighting where needed. In darkened areas, make sure there is enough light for your employees to exit the area in a safe fashion.
6. Training for all employees to know and use the escape routes. Proper training is essential to ensure your staff know how to react in the event of a fire. Advise your team of all escape routes and fire exit door locations. Familiarise them with assembly points and correct conduct for evacuating the building. Proper understanding and training will reduce instances of panic.
7. A safe meeting point for staff. Find a suitable location far enough away that your staff will be safe from the burning building, but near enough that they can reach it quickly and easily. Agree on a back-up assembly point, should the first be unavailable for whatever reason.
Planning is key to a calm, controlled situation. In the event of a workplace fire, this is vital to ensuring the safe evacuation of your staff and any potential customers from your premises. For residential properties, it should be second nature to want to protect your loved ones.
It’s easy to overlook fire safety, but proper fire safety precautions are a legal requirement throughout commercial buildings, non-domestic buildings, and multi-occupancy buildings in the UK.