Although a fire safety plan that is implemented properly can mean the difference between organized escape and panic, the local fire department is ultimately in charge of ensuring occupant safety. Despite false alarms due to building activities and equipment failure, building management may still question the value of providing funds for evacuation planning and emergency training. For this reason, the Fire Code has specific requirements to ensure that building tenants and occupants are regularly made aware of the evacuation procedures outlined in the each building’s approved fire safety plan. Once the fire safety plan has been approved by the local fire department, training of fire wardens and supervisory staff is to be implemented as described in the plan. The primary role of floor wardens is to conduct the evacuation of occupants from their floor during a fire alarm. Quick action, clear thinking and calm leadership are vital to ensuring the safety of occupants during an emergency. Upon activation of the fire alarm, floor wardens should immediately tour the floor and alert all occupants that a fire alarm has sounded and an evacuation is required. Particular attention should be paid to isolated offices and individuals who may be deaf or hard-of-hearing. An assertive manner and authoritative voice will help motivate those who are hesitant about evacuating. Instruct occupants to use the designated exit stairwells and not the elevators to evacuate the floor.
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 are to remain ready for use by the Fire Services, should they choose to do so. Occupants should close but not lock doors as they leave their rooms or offices. 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 ask their group to stay together, as well as conduct a “head count” 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 designate a fire warden. Without extensive planning, conducting a full fire evacuation drill for a large building or facility can prove very disruptive and disorganized. In most cases, partial evacuation drills will promote the required level of awareness. However, a facility operator must always follow the fire department’s approved fire drill procedures as specified in their building’s fire safety plan. Conducting fire drills can trigger a variety of emotions for tenants and occupants, which can affect the evacuation. This makes it even more important for the facility operator to ensure that the building’s fire alarm and/or notification systems are fully operational, and without malfunctioning audible devices or other failure issues.
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.