Fire drills can often be seen a way to get away from our work for a few minutes but they are an important part of workplace safety. We look at what the law says about fire drills and why it is vital to have them on a regular basis.
We all know the process.
It’s Friday, the fire alarm goes off and everyone knows it’s ‘just’ a drill. We trudge out to the assembly point (probably the car park) and wait to be allowed back into the building.
It might be a tinge of excitement on an otherwise boring day waiting for the weekend to begin but fire drills are generally seen as a waste of time by a lot of staff.
The reality is that fire drills are a vital part of health and safety and, as we will see, they are crucial to complying with the law too. No-one truly knows how they will react in an emergency situation – that first-floor window by your desk could be jumped out of without much harm, couldn’t it? – but having a well-executed fire drill can be of massive benefit to everyone involved.
Does an employer have any legal responsibilities?
‘The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005’ sets out the legal responsibilities that an organisation must take for fire safety.
Not only must you have a fire risk assessment, fire safety signs and fire extinguishers on your premises but you also need to carry out a fire drill once per year and record the results. There are some exceptions to having a fire alarm system, however, for the most part, a business needs one.
Keeping every safe at work is enshrined in law and fire safety is an important component of this.
How to carry out an effective fire drill
The fire drill we described at the start of this blog is fairly indicative of how most fire drills are carried out – this doesn’t mean that it’s useful.
Carrying out a proper fire drill can allow you to see any potential problems that may arise in the real (and hopefully unlikely) event that a fire breaks out at work. Looking for things such as hard to open doors, slow movers and how long the whole evacuation takes can help to create an effective fire drill assessment.
Even though that Friday morning alarm can be met with eye rolling and groans from those that are strenuously trying to meet a deadline before the end of the day, it is important for new workers. In fact, new employees have to be trained and informed of the procedures and any fire risks when they start work.
Brushing up on our fire safety training
Fire drills might only have to be carried out once per year by law but having them on a regular basis can greatly increase the chances of everyone doing what they are supposed to if a real fire occurs.
It is always a good idea to refresh yourself with fire safety training to ensure that you know exactly how to act in this kind of situation.
We might hate the Friday morning alarm going off but if carried out correctly it may just save our lives.