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Difficult Fire Drill

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Grand Shidoshi
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Difficult Fire Drill

Post by Messy »

I have a difficult issue re a fire drill that I cannot go into in any real detail due to customer confidentiality reasons.

The Law

The Fire Safety Order 2005 says in paraphrase .... 'where necessary .... (apply)..... safety drills'. The where necessary bit allows some wriggle room which I want to exploit. The law states:

Procedures for serious and imminent danger and for danger areas
15. —(1) The responsible person must—
(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;

The Problem

I am looking into cancelling an annual fire drill this year for a large(ish) building, which due to its location and work carried on, creates an unusual and particular special set of circumstances that will mean an evacuation drill will create a risk of staff and others evacuating being unable to comply with the emergency plan and maintain social distancing.

During a real evacuation - which would only ever happen due to a confirmed fire - the risk of fire is likely to be greater than potential CV-19 contamination, so the status quo would apply in relation to the evacuation plans. But the question I am considering is should we put staff at that risk for a training exercise, or is there another way as an emergency provision just for 2020?

The difficulty here is that due to special CV-19 measures, many staff are either working in a different office, on a different floor, with a different team and perhaps with different emergency plans. The building will only ever be partly full at any one time which adds to the fire risk, although perhaps makes an evacuation easier in terms of traffic flow.

The Plan

Instead, I propose a 4 phase plan for the many thousands of staff present.
1) A summary of the emergency plan is sent to all staff who sign (electrically or otherwise) they have read the plan and understood it
2) Managers of Depts will discuss their emergency plan at Team Meetings and provide a list of staff who attended
3) An offer will be made for 'walk throughs' of the evacuation plan to Fire Wardens, those with PEEPs and other staff who request one.
4) A table top exercise(s) for security staff who run an evacuation and usually benefit most from the drill - therefore would have most to lose from any cancellation

Managers of staff displaced from their usual place of work already have duties in relation to staff induction including fire safety
This will be for 2020 only and a 2021 drill will take place, if lawful and safe to do so.

Any comments?
I may take this to the enforcement authority, but having worked in that role, I know that often there's a 'frightened rabbit' approach to anything left field like this, which makes for an 'The answer is no, what is the question?' which puts me off that route

So any glaring mistakes or any views would be appreciated

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Re: Difficult Fire Drill

Post by StupidQuestions »

Not sure if it states anywhere a "safety drill" must be physical. As you have planned out, a discussion over how employees would exit the building and what difficulties there may be / where they need to go and what to expect to happen could constitute a safety drill. Certainly testing of emergency procedures can be desktop. It might even through up some points that do not normally get raised. Remember to tell them that if there is a real evacuation they must get out and should not let social distancing stand in the way!

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Grand Shidoshi
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Re: Difficult Fire Drill

Post by Blackstone »

Interesting one.
I'm by no mean a fire expert but here's my thoughts.

The fact that the staff may be in different offices, unfamiliar surroundings, different people or managers, I guess makes it more important that they know what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency.

I think your plan is sound and reasonable given the circumstances and key that people working in the building know what is different in the emergency plan and what they need to do.

I the event of an actual emergency needing evacuation the covid factor would kind of take a back seat to the imminent dangers being presented.

'Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough that they don't want to!' - Richard Branson

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