Various fire and life safety studies have emerged over the last decade which outline the complexities and potentially dangerous tasks surrounding a building emergency evacuation, as well as providing the information, training and procedures that may be adapted to a variety of situations. The majority of people entering a building have the expectation that they can come and go in reasonable safety, and to a large extent this is justified. Nevertheless, incidents requiring rapid evacuation of buildings do occur and are not always due to a catastrophic event. For the most part, an evacuation is a response to guarantee protection against possible or potential harm. To avoid confusion during an actual fire emergency, it is essential for building operators and their supervisory personnel in the organization to know the precise roles they are responsible to fulfill. The approved fire safety plan clearly specifies these responsibilities and the nature of their implementation. One can count on a building emergency evacuation taking place at some point in time. Therefore, property operators should identify all potentially hazardous situations, assess the risks to occupants, and implement control measures to reduce or eliminate the chance that harm may occur during an evacuation. Key steps towards minimizing the risk to occupants are a review of the evacuation procedures outlined in the approved fire safety plan, and studying the escape routes on the floor plan drawings. To be fully effective, the fire safety evacuation procedures and fire drills should be an integral part of property management’s emergency management and response system, which is designed to deal with emergencies of all kinds. These procedures begin with measures to prevent fires and other hazardous events, and are further developed to reduce the level of risk to occupants, property and the environment.
As fire and building codes become increasingly advanced, more attention is focused on equipping buildings with voice communication systems similar to the customary public address systems installed in shopping malls, auditoriums, banquet facilities, and arenas. These emergency voice communication systems (EVCS) are designed to alert all occupants of the desired action and to provide clear instructions for evacuation of the building, with either live or pre-recorded messages in normal voice or synthesized tones. Building operators can rely solely on live messages if they have twenty-four hour staffing on-site, or they may consider pre-recorded messages which have been narrated in a studio environment. These systems are normally programmable in several languages, and enabled to broadcast first in the predominantly spoken language of the locale, followed by a message in the second most common language. Coupled with the evacuation procedures described in a building’s fire safety plan, the broadcasting of pre-recorded messages can enhance the handling of notices to stay in place and prepare to evacuate, or instructions to proceed with an evacuation. It is therefore critical that these systems are inspected and tested as outlined in the approved fire safety plan. As the technology has advanced, building codes have come to recognize voice communication systems as an important component of fire and life safety.
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.