Bulletin 160 June 2012 Preparing for an Emergency Fire Evacuation
- Posted at: September 25, 2021 03:06:09

The start of any fire must be detected as quickly as possible, and certainly before it can make all means of escape impassable. In some circumstances, particularly where building occupants are located away from the origin of the fire and there is a reasonable possibility that it could spread, this means that the fire must be detected and occupants alerted within the first minute of ignition. This will allow everyone enough time to safely leave the building. Regardless of the location, once occupants become aware of a fire, they must be able to proceed safely along recognizable escape routes to a designated location. In order to achieve this aim, it is mandatory for building operators to provide training to support personnel, such as elected fire wardens, and to conduct fire drills in accordance with the fire code. Fire warden training ensures awareness of potential difficulties that may be encountered during an evacuation and reduces the possibility of accidents. Fire drills are essential for every occupied building and must be conducted at least annually, or at the intervals specified in the building’s approved fire safety plan. From the stand point of the building occupants, they rely on the fire wardens to plan, implement, and help them practice evacuation procedures prior to the fire drill. This will ensure that they are ready in the event of a real emergency situation. Fire drills should involve all occupants: everyone should leave the building as soon as the fire alarm sounds. The emphasis should be on a safe and orderly evacuation, rather than a speedy one. Attention must be given to the physically-challenged to ensure that any special evacuation procedures are followed as outlined within the approved fire safety plan. Legislation for special needs occupants includes specific requirements regarding the means of escape in case of fire. Building operators must make any necessary adjustments to their premises to ensure that no occupant is at a disadvantage during an evacuation. The buildings approved fire safety plan identifies special needs occupants with physical and/or mental limitations, the nature of the assistance they may require, and specify customized emergency evacuation procedures.

Ideally, an evacuation during an alarm condition should proceed in a manner that is efficient and without any incident other than having to deal with the fire itself. As with any building evacuation, elevators must never be used by occupants during a fire emergency. The elevators must be grounded upon activation of the fire alarm system and ready for use by the Fire Services, should they choose to do so. Occupants should close but not lock doors as they leave their room or office. After exiting the building, occupants should avoid blocking paths to fire hydrants or access roads. They should congregate at a pre-determined location away from the building, as indicated in the approved fire safety plan. Each floor warden must attempt to keep their group together and conduct a “head count” so as to ensure that everyone has left the premises. Fire safety planning works best when you establish a committee of building members, including representatives from each floor, and then appoint a building emergency management coordinator and floor wardens. If the building has large floors, consider appointing several wardens per floor. Choose alternates for every position to cover absences. If there are several companies on a floor, each firm is normally responsible for their own space and must delegate a fire warden.
This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.

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