Just another day – a fire evacuation story. It’s just another day at work. You’re mid-way through writing an email when you’re dragged back into reality because someone shouted something. What was it?
You hear it again and this time you brain starts to whirl as the deafening sound of the fire alarm attacks your senses.
There’s a fire somewhere in the building and you heard someone shouting, so it can’t be far away from you. Your nose starts to pick up the distinct acrid smell of burning and your brain struggles to recall where you’ve met that smell before, distracting you from what you need to do. Your eyes dart around, drawn to look for the smoke, almost hoping to see the flame to reassure you that it’s real. People are starting to get up around you; slowly at first, then with a more speed as they grab their possessions before leaving their desks, rushing for the exit.
You join them, heading for stairs, the way you’ve always walked out of the building. It’s the route that you’ve always taken to get to the car park. It’s the logical way to go. But there’s a queue of people at the top of the stairs. Nobody is going forwards. People are starting to come back towards you. You don’t understand. Someone pushes past you, shoving you out of the way. Disbelief turns to heightened reality as you realise that the fire is in the stairs & you can’t get out that way.
Other people have started to follow the one who barged into you. They’re running towards another exit. You start to follow them but stumble over the paperwork and folders that are now lying across the floor, knocked off the nearest desk by those panicking to escape the fire.
You pick yourself up and make your way after your colleagues, shoving office chairs out of the way as you go. As you pass your desk, you spot something on your desk that instantly transports you to a memory – a summer holiday with family and friends.
A voice calls out to you, snapping you back to reality. It’s the visitor that came in earlier this morning. You vaguely remember them as you only exchanged glances. Why hadn’t they started to get out of the building? Shouting at you, two people push past, making you stagger against your desk. You need to get out, but so does the visitor. Why haven’t they moved yet?
Looking at them you can see the fear in their eyes; wide with panic. They start to mouth something at you, pointing at their legs. You glance down at them but you can only see that they haven’t started to propel the visitor towards the fire escape. As you reach out to them their hand grabs yours in terror, pulling you towards them. You need to get away from this person, you need to get out, and so do they.
Just another day – a fire evacuation story!
While I may never be the next Tom Clancy, I do know that everyone needs to be able to evacuate the workplace safely in an emergency. Plus, they must be able to get to the muster point within a few short minutes of the alarm being raised; staff and visitors, able-bodied and disabled. UK fire legislation requires that all businesses have emergency evacuation plans in place. Where you have less abled people, businesses should also have personal emergency evacuation plans for both regular staff and occasional visitors.
Today might be just another day at work, but ask yourself these questions;
- Do you know what the emergency evacuation plan is for your workplace?
- Do you know how disabled and less mobile colleagues and visitors would get out in an emergency? Would they use an evacuation chair or sledge? Who helps them into it and then operates it for them?
- What about your colleague who is pregnant/broken their leg?
- Who is the fire marshal for your workplace/work area? When were they last trained? Do they actually know how to use a fire extinguisher?
- If the stairs that you normally use are blocked, how would you escape?
- When you’re out, how do you get to the muster point? Where is the muster point, because it may be different it you’ve used a different staircase?
- When was the last time you had a practise evacuation at your workplace?
To get your businesses fire evacuation training in place – contact us today.