Ideally, it would be very convenient if all buildings had the same set of fire evacuation procedures. While there are common elements in all fire evacuations, the actual procedures will almost always need to be customized for each building. This is due to the fact that there is such a diverse range of buildings and types of occupancy. A chosen fire evacuation strategy reflects the nature of the activities in the building, its classification, and the type of fire safety systems present. Although it may seem a daunting task to develop the best possible fire evacuation procedures for occupants, these can be determined and clearly outlined within each city-approved fire safety plan. A fire safety plan for a building outlines how to raise the alarm, notify the city fire service and the best means to quickly vacate the premises. Following an evacuation, all occupants for each company or organization of a building should be accounted for: the evacuation procedures will describe the means of achieving this. Normally, it would be the responsibility of the fire warden of each company on a floor, who then reports to the B.E.C. (Building Emergency Co-ordinator) as to the status of their floor space. Pre-planned arrangements for providing assistance to occupants with special needs and visitors are also included as part of the procedures. Usually, persons with special-needs are accompanied by their assigned buddies to the stairwell, if safe to do so, where they would wait for the alarm to be resolved. Then, if necessary, one or two buddies will carry people as required down the stairs. The buddies will report to the B.E.C. following the evacuation.
The principal 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 (as long as it is safe to remain in the area). They will report to the B.E.C. at the assembly point to either confirm that their area is clear or if anyone is still in the building. Fire wardens are not expected to try to determine the source of a fire or attempt to extinguish it. Fire wardens are always designated for a specific area of the building, which does not extend beyond one floor. Each floor, or company space on a floor, must nominate and assign their own fire warden. All fire wardens should be reminded of the importance of notifying their appointers should there be a change in the location/hours at their place of work. 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. The identity of each fire warden and the extent of their area must be fully-described and provided to the B.E.C., who maintains an updated list of key personnel in the event of an alarm. 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. Buildings with security personnel 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, preventing re-entry into the building by occupants, and assisting the first responders in gaining access to secured areas within the building upon request.
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.