Maximizing the effectiveness of fire drills in your business

Maximizing the effectiveness of fire drills in your business

fire alarm fire drill emergency evacuation plan heading with pencilUS office properties see some 3,340 fires break out every year. Both the fiscal cost–$112 million annually in property damage—and the human cost—an average of 4 deaths and 44 injuries—provide more than enough reason for business owners and operators to implement serious fire prevention procedures in the workplace. However, even with the most stringent preventative measures, fires can still break out without warning, endangering the lives and livelihoods of employees and office tenants.

business fire statisticsThis ever-present risk of catastrophic fire is what led to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) requiring any company with 10 or more employees to have written emergency exit plans posted in the workplace. Even companies with fewer than 10 employees are required to verbally communicate their plans to employees. These plans are also required by federal OSHA regulations, which also dictate that companies must provide emergency exit routes in addition to the written procedures.

Even with all of these rules and regulations in place, a company’s emergency evacuation procedures only work as intended if they are practiced regularly by employers and employees alike. While fire evacuation drills aren’t legally required by existing legislation, most occupational safety professionals encourage workplaces to rehearse their evacuation procedures in the form of fire drills. By ensuring your workforce is well-versed in the practical application of your company’s emergency exit procedures, your workplace—and everyone inside—is better protected from the devastating consequences of business fires.

hand pull and fire extinguisherPerfecting your fire drills

Fire drills are essential for company safety. As such, it’s vital to maximize their effectiveness while limiting their disruption to the flow of business. Focusing on a few key points can go a long way in bolstering both the efficiency and strength of your fire evacuation procedures.

Preparing your staff

Fire evacuation procedures should be posted in the workplace, but it’s unlikely that staff members have spent a great deal of time standing in place and reading them. Some combination of brief in-person safety meetings and online training classes can be used to remind employees of existing procedures to lay the groundwork for calm and quick evacuation.

Holding multiple fire drills throughout the year can serve different purposes. Planned, announced fire drills can be used to give staff the chance to practice procedures to ensure they are done safely and correctly. By contrast, unannounced fire drills can test these skills by simulating an unexpected and realistic environment. By increasing the frequency of your fire drills, you can maximize staff preparedness and minimize the amount of time it takes to safely evacuate the building.

Vetting your plan

An emergency evacuation plan aims to get employees out of the building as safely and quickly as possible. Holding fire drills can help employers detect kinks or holes in their evacuation plan, whether it’s an unexpected traffic jam or the realization that the location of a simulated fire eliminates a necessary evacuation route. It also helps to identify which employees may need to brush up on procedure and serves as a way to show newer hires the best evacuation practices.

Testing your equipment

Fire drills are excellent times to examine not only your existing evacuation procedure but also the state of your fire alarm system. Fire drills activate the “sights and sounds” of your fire alarm system (horns and strobes) or the audible emergency instructions of your voice evacuation system, so it’s a great time to have the required-by-law annual fire alarm system testing done by your security provider. In the event you’ve already completed your annual test, it’s still an excellent time to test devices such as smoke detector for battery life and general functionality.

eps security fire alarm keypadWorking with the professionals

Business fires are deadly serious, and business fire alarm systems can be incredibly complex. Having appropriate fire prevention and emergency evacuation procedures in place—and practicing them regularly—can go a long way in protecting your business and everything inside it, but in the event of an actual fire, you need to be able to trust your fire alarm system.

Luckily, EPS Security has more than six decades of experience in protecting Michigan businesses. Although we’re pros in all kinds of security—burglar alarms, video surveillance, card access systems, and more—we’re especially well-trained in fire alarm technologies. From smoke detectors to heat detectors to mass evacuation systems, our FAST– and NICET-licensed technicians know the ins-and-outs of protecting businesses of all shapes and sizes. Our security consultants and engineers are well-acquainted with fire codes and laws in various local jurisdictions to help make the engineering and installation process as painless as possible. At EPS Security, our business has been securing Michigan businesses for 66 years, and we’d love to help protect yours.

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