For the most part, building operators place the emphasis on fire drill evacuations being smooth and orderly rather than speedy when occupants leave the building after the fire alarm system sounds. Equally critical is ensuring that all floor wardens or supervisory personnel are familiar with their fire systems first and second stage alarms, the associated audible signals, and the duties to be carried out at each point of the evacuation. Fire drill frequencies are listed in each building’s approved fire safety plan, as are the evacuation procedures to be implemented. Pre-planning includes establishing a committee of members from the building, with designated representatives for each commercial tenant. For the purpose of evacuations and drills, the committee will appoint a building emergency management coordinator and wardens from each floor. For larger buildings, consideration should be given to designating more than one warden per floor as well as alternates for each position to cover absences. In addition, special attention must be given to the evacuation procedures for occupants with special needs in the building. Should there be concerns regarding confidential papers or other materials, the evacuation plan should include securing articles in a lockable filing cabinet or desk.
It must be stressed to all occupants that the elevators must never be used during a fire emergency. All building evacuees should congregate at a pre-determined location away from the building, as indicated on the site drawing in the approved fire safety plan. Floor wardens must attempt to keep their group together, and conduct a “head count” at the congregation area to ensure that all evacuees have left the building. Evacuees are to stay well clear of the fire department entrance, access routes, fire hydrants and safety equipment. This reduces the chance of delayed access to the building by the first responders in an emergency. All activities during the fire drill are to be logged into an approved up-to-date fire safety plan, which is either kept in the lock box at the main entrance or other pre-determined location. Of course, as with any building documents of importance, backups of the approved fire safety plan are kept either in soft or hard copy formats. Even if a building fire safety plan bears a stamp of approval, its contents are to be reviewed by building management at intervals of no greater than 12 months. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that the plan continues to accurately reflect the current building layout, existing fire protection and life safety systems, staffing levels and assignments, emergency contact information, and use of the building. It is necessary to communicate with officials should any major changes occur in the building such as structural modifications, upgrades to the fire alarm systems, and building ownership transfers. These permanent changes require updating of the fire safety plan and re-submission to fire department officials for 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.