Planning for Building Fire Evacuations
While there are common elements in all building fire evacuations, the actual procedures will almost always be customized in each fire safety plan to be submitted for approval. The reason for this is the diverse range of buildings and types of occupancy.
When a fire safety plan is developed, the fire evacuation strategy is designed based on the nature of the activities in the building, the building classification, and the type of fire safety systems present. Once approved, these procedures are the responsibility of the elected fire wardens to implement, along with the pre-planned arrangements for providing assistance to occupants with special needs in the event of an emergency. Procedures to assist occupants vary from being accompanied by their assigned designate to the safe haven area, to awaiting further instructions from the arriving fire services. An additional duty of a fire warden or their designated team member is to check every room during an evacuation, including utility rooms and washroom facilities. Fire wardens must be very familiar with the fire procedures and escape routes in their building. They will be the last person to leave the floor for which they are responsible but will remain in the area only as long as it is safe to do so. Normally, fire wardens are not expected to try to determine the source of a fire or attempt to extinguish it. In most cases, fire wardens are designated for a specific area of the building which does not extend beyond one floor. Their training must ensure they are familiar with the fire evacuation procedures in their building, the nature of the alarm signals, the location of the fire exits in their area, as well as the locations of refuge for people who may require assistance during an evacuation. In some cases, building operators recommend fire wardens wear an orange or red baseball hat so that they are clearly identifiable in their floor area. If a building has security personnel, they may be assigned the responsibility of summoning the city fire services, grounding the elevators and investigating the alarm signals. Their role may also include manning the vehicle entry access point(s), preventing re-entry into the building by occupants, and assisting the first responders in gaining access to secured areas of the building upon request.
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