Bulletin 211 October 2016 Occupant Evacuations from Buildings
- Posted at: September 25, 2021 03:53:31

The one of the first priorities of building operators is to ensure that all occupants have safely exited the building in the event of a fire emergency. It stands to reason that the fire code regulations direct so much attention to the safe means of occupant evacuation, maintaining clear paths of escape, ensuring there are a sufficient number of suitably protected exit ways and emergency backup lighting to illuminate the building exit routes. Without question, building occupants must know the location of all emergency exits and alternate paths to safety. It is critical to review the fire and life safety equipment listed in the audit summary of the approved fire safety plan (fsp). This includes re-reading sections pertaining to the sequence of operation of smoke control devices, fire dampers and any automatic or semi-automatic means of fire control in the building. Equally important is implementing the sections of the fsp that pertain to the maintenance of the fire alarm system, its detection devices, public address system, or other means of alerting occupants so they remain in top working condition.

Understanding the sections with the fsp which pertain to the occupant evacuation procedures and the advance preparation required for the activities is critical as the time between the actual raising of the fire emergency and commencement of evacuation is very brief. These sections include floor warden and supervisory personnel roles and responsibilities, as well as the drawings indicating the placement of exit routes to the outside assembly area or pre-designated meeting area(s). The outside meeting areas must not hamper access by fire-responders and must allow fire wardens, supervisory staff and building managers to easily account for all of their occupants. If there are any occupants with hearing or vision impairment, or persons who are physically limited, wheelchair bound, etc., special procedures are to be outlined within the approved fsp. Ultimately, the main goal is that when the fire alarm sounds, all occupants will immediately leave the building by proceeding in an orderly fashion to the nearest exit. In addition, should fire or smoke block an exit, occupants must know where to find the alternate exits. All building fire safety plans must be updated at intervals no greater than 12 months. In the event major changes have been made to the premises, the fire safety plan must be updated and re-submitted to the City for re-acceptance and/or re-approval.

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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