Many firms do everything they can to prevent a fire. It’s right that they’d wish to protect everybody on their premises.
However, despite their best efforts, bad luck can still strike. Moreover, people can underestimate the damage fires can cause to businesses. Because these premises are often full of flammable materials and hazardous substances, a blaze can tear through these areas rapidly. Such instances aren’t all that uncommon, either.
Consequently, it would help if you had a plan for an emergency exit strategy in place. They’re not easy to put together, especially if your commercial premises is rather complicated in design. So, without further adieu, here’s a quick guide to creating a safe fire exit route in your business premises.
Evaluate Your Building
You can’t create a safe fire exit route on a whim. You need to completely understand the assignment, and that means thoroughly understanding the layout of your commercial building.
Questions you should be asking here include:
- Which areas of the building increase the risk of fire? Electrical outlets, flammable substances and materials, and areas where trips could occur all heightened present risks in a fire-related emergency.
- Are any access points too narrow for all to pass through? Older buildings, in particular, can be harder to navigate and may cause congestion during an escape.
- If you’ve established a primary fire exit route, can you establish a secondary option too? There can be many reasons the main route becomes inaccessible during a fire, so backup plans are essential. If the building is large enough, multiple exits must also be established.
- Is disability access sufficient? Perhaps some routes involve stairwells while others don’t. Ramps may need to be installed and protected. Fire safety wardens may need areas to help and coordinate any disabled people.
Your safe fire exit route should ideally be one of many, with the specific needs of individuals taken into account at every stage. Keeping the layout of your business premises is the first step in that process, as those considerations will help you account for everybody.
Look Into Fire Stopping
Some people think fire exit routes are just regular passageways leading to an assembly point outside. However, you can do more with them than that.
LFS work with London businesses to provide fire stopping services. Fire stopping equipment is installed throughout a building to contain a blaze and stall its spread. It can make walls, floors, and roofs more resistant to flames. In turn, fire stopping equipment help creates a safe fire escape route, as well as a secure passage for emergency services. These providers work closely with top-tier manufacturers to ensure everything is up to standard.
We’re mentioning fire stopping early because it’s a legal requirement in the UK’s Passive Fire Protection laws. Usually, the owner or landlord is obligated to carry out these measures, but as you can see, they keep people safe too. So, if you don’t occupy either of these roles, and things aren’t up to standard, it’s recommended that you speak up and highlight your concerns.
Clearly Display Fire Signage
Your staff may have familiarised themselves with the designated fire exit route in your commercial building. Still, that’s not enough.
People can be very forgetful in an emergency, despite training they may have done months prior. Moreover, guests to your premises may be unfamiliar with the procedure too. So, fire signage becomes integral here, serving useful reminders of many factors like:
- Discouraging people from using lifts while a fire is underway.
- Sounding the alarm if one is part of the fire exit route.
- Leaving the building by the nearest available fire exit only.
- Directing people to the nearest assembly point.
- Instructing people how to use fire safety equipment in the unlikely event they’re in immediate peril along the safe fire exit route.
Some of the information can seem like common knowledge, but it can be immensely reassuring during extreme stress. At that time, people need clarity of thought to exit the building calmly and safely, and that’s what notices can provide. Keep the area around fire safety signs clear and clean.
Install Easy to Open Fire Doors
While the doors can be heavy and hard to shift in some settings, it’s vital that different types of people can use these doors without issue should an emergency happen. Otherwise, their escape may be stalled with perilous consequences.
In 2018, reports surfaced about fire doors that older people couldn’t open in Honely, West Yorkshire. Even if your staff is made up of younger people, older clients and customers may still be occupying the same building. Obviously, 2018 was awhile ago now, but it’s hard to imagine every business out there has accessible fire doors.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to assess the accessibility of yours. Remember, it’s not just about people getting out, either. Opening these doors can sometimes trigger fire alarms, which makes everyone else safer, too, if they can get out sooner for hearing it.
Establish the Assembly Point
You won’t be shocked to learn that fire assembly points should be established outside the building and away from fire hazards. The ideal location should be large and at least 50ft away from the building. More needs to be considered here, though.
Emergency responders may need to urgently give workers and guests medical attention at the assembly point. It is essential to ensure they can easily find the place and have easy access and enough room to provide that care. If an assembly point is a small tucked, away area with no road access, it’s a bad move. You shouldn’t use car parks, either.
Signs should clearly mark the area as a fire assembly point ahead of time. That way, there’s no doubt about where people should be. People will learn that soon enough if they follow the signs mentioned earlier in the article, but nevertheless, that final confirmation is essential for all.
Fire assembly points should always have storage areas with water and first aid kits on standby. Fire and health and safety officers may not be able to treat everyone effectively after a fire, depending on the severity of their condition. Still, there should be enough supplies for people to provide the best care they can until emergency services arrive.
Author: Ryan Byrne