Tips on How to Write a Fire Evacuation Plan for Your Business
Commercial fire damage is a big deal. It can lead to the disruption of work and financial losses, and, in worse case scenarios, loss of life. If a fire occurs in your business, are your employees educated on fire prevention methods and prepared if one happens? Is your business set up with the proper escape plans and tools in case of a fire? Creating a fire evacuation plan with your employees is the first step to keeping everyone safe, minimizing damage, and allowing your commercial property to be rebuilt to pre-loss condition faster
The most important part of creating and implementing a fire escape plan is that you include your employees. They’re the people who run your business day-to-day and most likely be the ones present should a fire occur. It’s vital that they know the fire safety plan, are comfortable with their roles within the plan, and take ownership of it.
- Identify potential fire hazards.
Inspect areas of your building and makes notes like: Does your commercial property have a kitchen? Do areas of your building have microwaves? Are people daisy-chaining their power strips? Are employees running personal heaters or mini refrigerators at their desks? Once you identify all of the potential fire hazards, create and post rules about safe use of the microwave, power strips, and fridge. Consider banning hot plates and non-business run cooking appliances. Post no-smoking signs where applicable or consider making your campus smoke-free. Educate employees on the rules to prevent fires in emails, meetings, and in signage throughout your commercial property.
- Assign emergency preparedness plan roles and responsibilities.
During a fire, it’s key to have some employees assigned to leadership roles to help others safely evacuate the building. Employees in these assigned roles should attend regular fire safety meetings, understand their role, be able to lead others during fire drills, and feel confident in their role during an actual fire event. Roles to consider assigning to your employees include:
- Chief fire safety warden. The person in charge of the business fire safety plan.
- Assistant fire safety warden. The person in charge of calling the fire department, alerting employees, and gathering all the reports and paperwork necessary to file a claim.
- Route guides. These employees are especially important if you have a larger building. These people makes sure that safety routes are clear and that employees remain calm while moving toward the exits in an orderly manner.
- Floor monitors. Every floor monitor ensures every person is accounted for and safely out of their floor before leaving the building themselves.
- Make a fire escape plan for emergency evacuation.
Use this printable fire escape planning template as a starting point to create your business fire escape plan. Draw out each floor of your business, marking possible escape routes, fire extinguisher locations, first aid kit locations, and the meeting area. Pick a meeting place that’s far away from your building or other potential danger areas (like an attached parking garage). The spot should be out of the way for emergency services. Make sure you have proper emergency evacuation routes for differently abled employees. Inspect your commercial property often and keep up on maintenance of safety equipment: Check fire extinguishers to make sure they’re up to date, ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working, and that your sprinkler system is in good shape. Keep your emergency safety kits stocked with the proper burn gel, gauze, scissors, band aids, and both aspirin and non-aspirin products. Update your plan as your business and building conditions change.
- Create an emergency communications chain.
When a fire occurs, it doesn’t only affect people within your business’ four walls. Keep a list of contacts and their phone numbers in key designated areas. Add outside emergency contact information, like local medical centers and hospitals. But don’t limit the list to just local police and fire departments. Also include information for your suppliers, distributors, and clients (if applicable) to keep everyone informed. Make sure the packet of phone numbers can be grabbed before exiting the building to be used by your company’s assistant fire safety warden.
- Practice your fire evacuation plan regularly.
By practicing, your employees will gain confidence in their roles and learn the safest routes to exit the building in the event of an emergency. If a fire ever does happen, they are more likely to leave the building calming, orderly, and most importantly, safely. It allows employees in fire safety leadership roles to practice their parts and other employees to recognize who those leaders are. Seeing their peers in action will also give employees a greater sense of security that your business is prepared.
By following these tips to create a fire protection plan and evacuation plan, you are helping your employees feel more educated, valued, and safe in their work environment. And should your commercial property ever have a fire, they will be more prepared and safe.