Although each fire safety plan outlines the procedures to follow in an emergency, it is critical to managethe hazards in a building prior to a crisis. Each building workplace has varying processes and environments but, for the most part,there are common principles inthe overall pre-evacuation planning process. Theseinclude the implementation of standard control measures to reduce risks to occupants in the event an evacuation is required. Equally important is the training of the chosen building personnel to ensure that they understand their responsibilities in an emergency situation. Evacuation proceduresand tasks are listed and described in the building fire safety plan, and must be regularly reviewed by supervisory and floor warden personnel.These are to be upheld as part ofthe company safety policies, and includedetails regarding individualswho require assistance to leave the premises in an emergency.
In addition to occupant evacuation procedures, the fire safety plan lists theearly detection devices and alerting systems in a building. This relates to legislation that specifies engineered controls must be incorporated in a building’s structure to limit and slow the spread of fire and smoke. Examples of automatic or semi-automatic means of fire control are engineered fire suppression and sprinkler systems. Codes do stipulate the maintenance ofclearpaths of escape and the provision of sufficient emergency lightingand signage. This will ensure a safe means of evacuation for building occupants once an emergency is underway. If a rapidly-spreading fire occurs, all occupants must be able to leave the building without injury or risk of being trapped by the fire. Occupants must know the locations of all of the emergency exits. Alternate paths to safety are to be clearly marked, unobstructed and unlocked. If an emergency exit door must be locked from the exterior for security reasons, it must be equipped with a “panic hardware” type latch so that it can be opened from the inside without unlocking it first.
When the fire alarms sound in a building, it should never be assumed that all occupants can be safely evacuated immediately. The means by which occupants in a given emergency manage to vacate a building is always difficult to predict. It depends on physical abilities of the current occupants, the location of the nearest exits, and the cause, source and composition of a fire. To ensure adequate preparation for any emergency, regular fire drill evacuation exercises are to be conducted as outlined in Section 2.8 of the Ontario Fire Code. The frequencies the fire drills are also listed in each building’s approved fire safety plan. Fire drills should involve all occupants, as everyone must leave the building when the fire alarm sounds. It is critical for building personnel and floor wardens to be familiar with the fire alarm sequence, including the first and second stage alarms, their associated audible signals, and the duties to be carried out at each point in a fire emergency. Emphasis should be placed on a safe and orderly evacuation, rather than speed.
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.