FIRE DRILL: When and Why

September 26th 2019

Fire drills can be a matter of life and death and because of this it is essential to know the following:

What is a Fire Drill?
Why is it important?
How often should a fire drill take place?

First things first!  A fire drill is the practice of an emergency procedure that involves an evacuation process that must be followed in the event of a fire. It is an important requirement that shouldn’t be neglected. A fire drill can prepare and educate a company’s employees or students in education facilities so that they are equipped to respond in a calm, safe and quick manner in case of fire. Businesses and Facilities have the responsibility to provide a safe environment where individuals are protected.  

Fire Drill Objectives

  • The employees or students have the opportunity to practice the whole procedure in a safe environment
  • Check and determine whether the supervisory staff can actually carry out their duties in an emergency
  • Determine if the supervisory staff are sufficient
  • Evaluate if the employees and the students understand the procedure
  • Ensure whether the evacuation procedure is effective and if there are any adjustments that should be implemented for improving the procedure.
  • Ensure the fire drill complies with the local Fire Code.

How Often Should Fire Drills be Conducted?

Fire drills should be scheduled regularly in order to achieve the objectives mentioned above. The fire drill frequency can vary depending on how high the fire risk of each workplace or school is. For example, in case of a workplace with serious fire hazards, it is important to have announced and unannounced fire drills at least once every 3 months. On the other hand, it is best for organisations to run a fire drill once a year, although twice is recommended. Don’t forget that every time a fire drill takes place the results should be recorded and evaluated.

Announced and Unannounced Fire Drills

Most employees prefer fire drills to be announced so that they can minimize their workflow interruption. However unannounced fire drills can help determine whether the evacuation process or the emergency planning of each workplace or school works effectively or not. Therefore, there is no right or wrong answer to this matter since each fire drill, announced or unannounced, serves a different purpose.

Preparing for a Fire Drill

A fire drill can be more successful when there is the correct preparation and planning. There are many different factors that should be taken into consideration when planning such as the scale and the layout of the building.

Firstly, ensure you have a sufficient number of fire wardens. The fire wardens are the people that you can trust to be responsible and competent during a fire drill. They should always be correctly trained by professionals. You can check our professional Fire Safety Program here or contact us for any more information.  Also, make sure you have enough fire wardens in case of annual leaves or sickness.

Secondly, the importance of keeping a register of who is in the building including visitors is essential. The reason behind keeping a register is to know if the building is completely evacuated or if a person is missing.

Lastly, you have to make sure that all evacuation routes are clear of any obstructions so that injuries can be prevented.

Evaluating Each Fire Drill

At the end of each fire drill the supervisory staff should evaluate the procedure assessing the following:

  • Did the fire alarm work?
  • Were the corridors or the stairs clear?
  • Was the fire alarm loud enough to be heard by everybody?
  • After the evacuation did all employees or students go to the assembly point?
  • Did the voice communication systems function correctly?
  • Did the students or the employees check for fire in the work areas?
  • Were there any appointed people to count the individuals in the fire assembly area to see if there was anyone missing?
  • Did everybody from the company or the school participate in the drill?
  • Did the employees or the students carry out the emergency duties in the correct way?
  • Did everybody use the evacuation routes?