Despite the false fire alarms which occur in buildings throughout the year, management personnel must ensure that the tenants/occupants are regularly made aware of the evacuation procedures outlined in the their building’s city-accepted fire safety plan. Although much of the responsibility for the safety of occupants during an evacuation lies with the local first responders, a well-written and fully implemented fire safety plan undoubtedly can mean the difference between organized escape and panic. When the fire alarm sounds or a building-wide emergency is otherwise announced, all occupants must immediately leave the building by proceeding in an orderly fashion to the nearest exit. If fire or smoke blocks this exit, occupants should proceed to an alternate exit. The first priority is to ensure that occupants can safely leave the building without becoming trapped or overcome by smoke. For this reason, the fire alarm system, public address system, or other means of alerting occupants must be in working condition at all times.
In addition to their regular responsibilities, the roles of elected fire wardens and supervisory staff are to be implemented as described in the safety plan. In most cases, the primary role of a floor warden is to conduct the evacuation of occupants from their own floor during a fire alarm. With clear thinking and calm leadership, floor wardens must quickly tour the floor and alert all occupants that a fire alarm has sounded and an evacuation is required. The prime objectives are motivating those who are hesitant about evacuating, as well as reminding everyone to use the designated exit stairwells and not the elevators. While checking the floor and alerting occupants, floor wardens must close the doors to all rooms once they have been vacated. This will prevent the spread of fire and limit the migration of smoke and toxic gases. As occupants leave each floor, it is critical for floor wardens to clearly announce that they must use the right side of the stairwells, and that once the ground landing is reached to proceed to their designated outside meeting place. The outside assembly areas must be established so as to avoid undue congestion and to allow the fire warden, emergency director and building managers to easily account for all of their occupants. Special-needs persons remaining on the floor or in a stairwell must be reported to the building’s Fire Safety Director who will ensure that, if a full evacuation is required, fire responders can be sent to assist. For individuals with limited mobility that prevents them from evacuating by way of the exit stairwells, planning is imperative. Supervisory personnel and their replacement alternates must be familiar with the necessary course of action and procedures to follow. The city-accepted fire safety plan does have sectional contents pertaining to occupants with hearing or vision impairment, or those who are physically limited, wheelchair bound, etc. Specific procedures are listed to assist with their evacuation from the building.
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.