Here at Shield Safety Group, we believe in making Fire Safety simple as we have already shown you in previous blogs The importance of Fire Risk Assessments and 5 handy tips for managing Fire Safety (amongst others). Tip 4 out of ‘5 handy tips’, gave a short overview on planning and practicing for a fire. As this is an essential part of Fire Safety, we thought we’d take a look at it in a bit more detail.
In order to effectively plan for a fire occurring, a fire emergency evacuation plan (FEP) needs to be in place. A FEP is a written document which includes the action to be taken by all staff in the event of fire and the arrangements for calling the fire brigade. A FEP is not only mandatory according to Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, Article 15, it is a vital tool in ensuring the safety of all stakeholders should a fire break out.
Much like other safety breaches, news of inadequate FEPs soon travels fast. In November 2017, a petition was launched calling on Westfield Stratford City to have a robust evacuation plan after a 70-year-old woman was injured in a stampede of panic during a fire alarm. Similarly, Royal Stoke University Hospital’s evacuation plan generated bad press after hospital patients were caught in traffic jams for at least an hour following the outbreak of a fire.
It is a relief that no party involved in the evacuation escapades was more seriously injured. However, this is not always the case so it is imperative to have an effective FEP in place.
Why are FEPs important?
Quite simply, having a fire evacuation in place is important so that you meet your legal requirements. In addition to that, an evacuation plan is a vital document that all staff should be aware of and trained on so they know what to do in the event of a fire – this will keep them, and your customers, safe. FEPs are of particular importance to high risk premises such as hotels.
Who should conduct a FEP?
The Responsible Person within a business is essentially responsible for having a FEP in place. A Responsible Person can be an employer, the owner, the landlord, an occupier or anyone else with control of the premises. They may choose to outsource the creating of a FEP to a competent person from a third party (like us).
What does a FEP show?
The evacuation plan must show that you have:
- Created clear, unobstructed passageways to all escape routes– corridors, doors, and staircases must not be blocked by any obstacles. Regular fire walks and checks are important to ensure this is maintained.
- Clearly marked the escape routes that lead to a safe location, that are as short and direct as possible. Examples of these will often be seen on the back of doors in venues, such as hotels.
- Created enough exits and exit routesthrough which all people in the premises can escape. The should be identified through the building and planning stage and observed in a Fire Risk Assessment.
- Supplied emergency doors and emergency fire-fighting equipmentthat are easy-to-use and in accessible locations, as well as emergency lighting where needed.
- Trained all employeesin what to do if a fire breaks out and informed them where all the escape routes are and where the assembly point is. Crucially, FLASH CARDS will be in the Fire Box with a role for each staff member in the event the fire alarm goes off.
- Created a safe meeting pointfor all staff present in your building, located away from the premises.
- Designated a fire warden/marshal, whose duty will be implementing certain fire safety measures, having knowledge of fire prevention, and fighting fires where possible. The fire marshal must be trained and get everyone out. They must also consider people with disabilities through a PEEP procedure.
- Plans of the Building for the Fire Service
What can happen if you don’t have a FEP in place, or if it’s inadequate?
As highlighted in the aforementioned news articles, if there is no plan or an inadequate FEP in place it is likely staff will be unaware of what to do in the event of a fire, in particular the evacuation of staff and guests. All those involved should know their roles and responsibilities through training and flash cards which link to the FEP.
What should my FEP include?
As advised by GOV.UK in their plans for business, your emergency plan should be appropriate to your premises and could include:
- How people will be warned if there is a fire
- What staff should do if they discover a fire
- How the evacuation of the premises should be carried out
- Identification of key escape routes
- Arrangements for fighting fire
- Arrangements for the safe evacuation of people identified as being especially at risk, such as those with disabilities and children
- Contingency plans, e.g. restrictions on the use of the building, for when life safety systems are out of order, e.g. evacuation lifts, fire-detection and warning systems;
- How the fire and rescue service and any other necessary services will be called and who will be responsible for doing this
- What training employees need and the arrangements for ensuring that this training is given
The importance of this last point, training, was highlighted in a recent Twitter-fuelled story where passengers at Edinburgh Airport were left very disgruntled during a fire evacuation where staff appeared to be out of practice reported to have said ‘I’ve nae idea where we go! It’s been so long since we had a drill.’ Though this is refuted by the airport.
Failure to meet fire safety regulations can result in unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison. Have you got your FEP in place?
Do you need support managing Fire Safety? Shield Safety Group has software and services solutions for all business types and sizes, including FEPs written by our experts. Call 020 3740 3744 or email email@example.com for more information.
The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.