Every year, dozens of Ontarians die in fires. So far in 2022, there have been 99 deaths due to fire incidents, according to Jon Pegg, Ontario Fire Marshal. With this in mind, KRP’s Security team invites our tenants each year to participate in a town hall-style meeting, to reaffirm the importance of fire safety in the workplace. This is in addition to mandated fire drills run every year in each of our buildings. The town-hall meetings outline the roles and responsibilities of office Fire Wardens, Floor Monitors and Sweepers in the context of a typical office space; how to create an Evacuation Plan; how to operate Fire Safety Equipment such as a fire extinguisher and finally ways to communicate these plans with staff.
The Emergency Evacuation Plan
An emergency evacuation plan provides building occupants instructions on both how and where to evacuate a building. Having a clear plan, including a map in place, promotes an orderly and safe evacuation in the event of a fire or other emergencies. Without one, building occupants (particularly in commercial settings that can be unfamiliar) run the risk of becoming panicked and, worse yet, trapped.
Roles and Responsibilities
Having dedicated team members assigned to safety roles and ensuring they’re well-versed in their responsibilities is a key component of any Evacuation Plan. Depending on the typical number of workplace occupants in a given space, an office may designate a Fire Warden along with an Assistant Fire Warden, Floor Monitors, Sweepers or any combination thereof. By maintaining a clear chain of command, evacuation can play out smoothly and as stress-free as possible.
Fire Safety Equipment Training
Providing training to designated emergency evacuation team members and employees alike is an extra step that not all take. Knowledge is power, and the more people there are who feel comfortable operating equipment such as a fire extinguisher, the better. Of course, when and where it’s appropriate to use fire extinguishers or other man-powered fire suppression equipment will be circumstantial and should be covered in training.
While on the note of safety equipment, it’s important to note that smoke alarms, fire alarms and sprinkler systems must be tested and maintained regularly, where applicable. Alarm systems are inspected monthly and quarterly, as required by all governing codes and regulations, while fire drills are practiced once per year.
A plan is only of use if occupants know about it. Defining how the evacuation plan will be circulated amongst team members, where physical notices will be most visible and accessible to all occupants, as well as what training is available, is essential to the successful execution of the plan. Depending on the workplace, clients, contractors or media may also need to be informed in case of emergency, should the building be without access. Likewise, they will need to be informed once the premises have received the ‘all clear’ in terms of safety. While it’s common for the Fire Warden or other health and safety official to be responsible for socializing the plan and any updates internally, assistance from a dedicated communications department might be necessary for the broader audience.
No matter how big or small your workplace is, establishing a solid Emergency Evacuation Plan is critical in maintaining the health and safety of your employees and clients. If you work in the Parks and are looking for assistance developing your plan or would like it professionally reviewed, don’t hesitate to contact our Security Manager Pat Laurin.