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Fire Emergency Plans

Plan, prepare, practice, repeat

Do I legally need a Fire Emergency Plan?

Yes, let me explain how a Fire Emergency Plan fits into your overall fire safety strategy.  First comes the Fire Risk Assessment.  This looks at your building as a whole and identifies various issues which need resolving.  This makes you building as safe as it can be.  But next we have to come up with a plan detailing how everyone should react to either the fire alarm sounding.  Or someone finding a fire.  This is basically what a Fire Emergency Plan details. 

But do you legally NEED one?  Yes, in the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 it mentions :

 Article 8 - Duty to take general fire precautions  "The responsible person must take such general fire precautions as will ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of any of his employees..."

Article 10 - Fire safety arrangements  "The responsible person must make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate, having regard to the size of his undertaking and the nature of its activities, for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures."

Article 13 - Fire-fighting and fire detection  "The responsible person must...  

3(a) take measures for fire-fighting in the premises, adapted to the nature of the activities carried on there and the size of the undertaking and of the premises concerned 

AND 3(b) nominate competent persons to implement those measures and ensure that the number of such persons, their training and the equipment available to them are adequate..."

Article 15 - Procedures for serious and imminent danger and for danger areas  "1(a) establish and, where necessary, give effect to appropriate procedures, including safety drills, to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to relevant persons 

AND 1(b) nominate a sufficient number of competent persons to implement those procedures in so far as they relate to the evacuation of relevant persons from the premises 

AND 1(c) ensure that no relevant person has access to any area to which it is necessary to restrict access on grounds of safety, unless the person concerned has received adequate safety instruction

AND 2(a) require any relevant persons who are exposed to serious and imminent danger to be informed of the nature of the hazard and of the steps taken or to be taken to protect them from it"

Article 19 - Provision of information to employees  "The responsible person must provide his employees with comprehensible and relevant information on the risks to them identified by the risk assessment, the preventive and protective measures, the identities of those persons nominated by him in and the risks notified to him"

The best way to think of it is this.  The Fire Risk Assessment is there to make the building as safe as possible.  The Fire Emergency Plan details how you are going to react to a fire.

What information needs to be in a Fire Emergency Plan?

Typcially the common items are:

 - Actions people must take upon hearing the fire alarm
 - What to do if they find or suspect a fire
 - How to trigger the fire alarm is it's not already ringing
 - Identification of false alarms
 - How to contact the local Fire Service
 - What signs are used for escape routes
 - The buildings evacuation strategy (simultaneous, stay put, horizontal, vertical, silent)
 - How and when to fight a fire, and when not to
 - Assisting staff who are disabled and have PEEPs in place
 - Dealing with visitors or the general public, some of whom may also be disabled
 - Which routes are not available in a fire e.g. most lifts
 - How to shut off services such as gas, electricity, oxygen
 - Where smoke vents are and how they work
 - The location of the assembly point
 - The roles and duties of the trained Fire Wardens and Fire Coordinator
 - Performing a head count or roll call
 - Liaising with Fire Service upon arrival

Theses are the common items.  But every business any every building is different.  A petrol station would clearly have additional items to perform such as shutting off valves etc.  Whereas a machinery shop may require a detailed process for turning off various pieces of plant or equipment.  The key to a Fire Emergency Plan is you have thought all the through in advance and communicated it to everyone.  So that they all know what they have to do if the alarm sounds.  Some are simply tasked with evacuating themselves.  Others to assist someone else to evacuate, or to turn off various items.  Lastly there will be a team of people who make sure all this happens.  

Who creates the Fire Emergency Plan?

It makes the most sense that the person who creates the Fire Risk Assessment also creates the Fire Emergency Plan.  This is because that person has seen the whole site.  So they are best placed to then write the plan.  

Can you create JUST a Fire Emergency Plan for us? 

For Fire Safety to work, it needs to be a continuous thread that works throught the whole business.  Its starts with a Fire Risk Assessment.  This assesses the building on its own and notes where the fire safety can be improved or is not to standard.  

Next you have to consider any disabled employees via a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP).  Following that if you have lots of visitors or the general public comping to your site you'll need a General Emergency Evacuation Plan (GEEP).  These last two detail how you are going to evacuate disabled people if a fire breaks out.  This is not something that you should leave until the point a fire happens.  Nor should you rely on the Fire Service to handle the evacuation.  

Based on these 3 documents you are now able to devise a comprehensive Fire Evacuation Plan.  Taking account of the building, how its used and the types and numbers of people within it.  The plan details how you will respond to various scenarios and how you are going to get everyone out safely.

Finally you can now consider what training is required.  Everyone will need some basic fire training, mainly so that they can evacuate themselves safely.  But in a fire you will be relying on a Fire Coordinator and various Fire Wardens/Marshalls to assist in the evacuation and these will all need training to a higher level.  The Fire Emergency Plan is THE crucial document used in training.  At it explains in detail what everyone needs to do and what everyone else is doing.

At this point you have everything in place.  But fires don't happen when you expect them and as the army says "No plans survives first contact with the enemy".  So you have to do Fire Evacuation Drills.  Both to test your plan.  But also to make evacuating the building somewhat routine for its occupants.  So that if a real fire occurs, they won't panic.

Here at Fire Safety Specialists, we are a one-stop-shop for everything fire safety as we have decades of experience in both firefighting and fire safety. We have seen the devastation and cost to lives and property that fire leaves behind, and never want you to have to!

If you would like to discuss your Emergency Plan or any other requirement you may have, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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