Bulletin 162 August 2012 Utilizing Current Technology for Occupant Evacuations
- Posted at: September 25, 2021 03:00:44

An approved fire safety plan clearly defines the evacuation procedures and processes which are fundamentalin preparing for an emergency fire situation. The safety of building occupants is the primary consideration during any evacuation, including safe passage through the maze of demising walls or equipment layout, which can vary with the nature of the business. Although modern buildings have the capacity to significantly reduce the risk to their occupants through well-chosen construction materials and alert systems, a proactive and consistent approach to fire safety planning remains essential.Training of floor wardens and supervisory personnel is a vital element of this planning,emphasizing preparation for a fire emergency in the building. Training increases awareness in other areas, such as the fire code requirements to minimize opportunities for carelessness, keeping exit paths clear of obstructions, and advising building managers that an exit fixture is not illuminated. Even with extensive training of the building’s elected fire safety personnel, instructing occupants who are unfamiliar withthe building duringa fire emergency can be a challenging task. Supervisory personnel need to effectively convey the related procedures without becoming overwhelmed and putting themselves at risk.

Older buildings equipped with simple tone audible devices, such as fire bells, certainly do have some disadvantages when it comes to instructing occupants during an evacuation. As aging fire alarm panels deteriorate over time, they become more prone to false alarms, leading some occupants to assume every alarm is not a real emergency – a hazardous assumption at best. Fortunately, today’s technology has progressed to ensure that fire alarm systems sound an alarm tone and then broadcast a pre-recorded spoken warning, instructing occupants that the building is to be evacuated to the relevant assembly point. Voice evacuation warnings and address broadcasts increase the probability of safe and orderly evacuation of occupants from affected areas. This has a distinct advantage over bells and other mechanical or electronic sounders, which are often ignored or misunderstood. Integrated with building fire detection systems, voice notification systems can be customized for a variety of building occupancy classifications.In some cases, buildings operators of premises without voice communication system capability in their fire alarm system have opted to use Short Messaging Service (SMS). By making use of web-based SMS platforms for transmission, building administrators can use this technology to broadcast emergency alerts to fire wardens and floor supervisory teams. With a simple push of one button, a text message can be sent to one individual or thousands, and can be sent simultaneously in several languages. Message templates are created in advance, ensuring clear, concise wording to be delivered to all buildingoccupants in times of need. Another advantage is the ability to broadcast status updates during the emergency, including the arrival and deployment of emergency services personnel. Text messaging eliminates the need for “runners”, accelerates recovery from an emergency and saves both time and money for tenants and residents. It is being implemented by numerous corporations operating residential, commercial and industrial occupancies. With the ability to send effective and consistent messages when emergencies strike, SMS provides major benefits in terms of security, cost-saving and ease of use.

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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