How to conduct the perfect fire drill

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the sun’s becoming briefer, and autumn is well and truly on its way. Some of you may have had the pleasure of having 6 weeks off (with the exception of marking and lesson planning!) but for the rest of us, it’s business as usual.

This time of year goes hand in hand with fire drills, so we thought it’s the ideal time for us to look at how to conduct the perfect drill so you can be certain you have all of the right procedures in place.

One thing that sticks in our heads as kids is the joyous fire alarm drill – the opportunity to skive lessons for as long as possible, whilst shivering along the pavements, chattering with friends. As youngsters, this is merely seen as a way out of learning algebra or French, but the reality is that fire drills are imperative in ensuring safety in any building with occupants. Whilst no building is immune from the threat of fire, you can put measures in place to reduce the risk, or if the worst does occur you can keep losses to a minimum.

What is a fire drill? 

A fire drill is a duplication of the actions taken in the event of a real fire, involving a quick and simple evacuation of the building, the sounding of fire alarms and the fire evacuation procedure. All colleagues must receive training to ensure they understand the fire precautions and what to do if a fire were to occur. At least one fire drill should be carried out every year and this must be recorded with your fire evacuation plan.

Fire evacuation procedure essentials:

• Bear in mind how people will be warned if there’s a fire
• Clearly state where the assembly point is located
• Allow everyone to escape the fire and speedily travel to a place of safety
• Be short enough so occupants can escape quickly – remembering that those with disabilities and using staircases move slower
• Have procedures in place to make sure nobody is left inside
• Guarantee doors on escape routes are always available for use without the use of a key or key code pad
• Ensure escape routes are clear at all times
• Detail the duties of different staff with fire responsibilities

The perfect fire drill is just one aspect of many when managing fire safety. Need some extra support? Help is at hand.

Completing a drill with confidence 

By having the above in place you have made that crucial first step, but no matter how well thought out a fire evacuation procedure is, it will never be reliable until implemented and the only realistic way to do this is through a fire drill. Buildings with lots of occupants, particularly schools, must conduct drills regularly throughout the year so everyone in the building knows how to get outside quickly. Although indirect, fire drills aim to protect everyone within the building from the devastating consequences of fire.

Considering the importance of putting these procedures into practice, we’ve pieced together a quick step-by-step guide so you can complete your drill with confidence:

1. Ensure your Fire Evacuation Plan is complete and ready to be put into practice
2. Observe behaviours to preconceive any problems that may occur
3. Watch out for slow walkers and big groups chatting together
4. Keep an eye on anyone with disabilities
5. Direct everyone to the nearest exit
6. Observe any obstacles that get in the way of a smooth evacuation e.g. doors being unable to open
7. Time how long the evacuation takes
8. Record all details of the drill, detailing how successful it was as well as any problems
9. Log significant findings and use these to review your fire risk assessment
10. Take any required remedial action e.g. installation of additional fire alarms, fire doors and training

Government guidance states that you must have a fire detection and warning system in place and that all new colleagues must receive training when they begin work, covering any significant fire risks. On top of this, you should conduct regular checks in order to make sure that:

• all fire alarm systems are working
• all fire escape routes are unblocked and in good condition
• all fire doors can be easily opened
• all fire exit signs are correctly positioned
• all emergency lighting is working
• any faults in systems and equipment are logged

Don’t forget to inform any visitors or members of the public of any upcoming fire drills so they aren’t left under any false pretences!

So now we’ve cleared a few things up, you can relax knowing you’ve got all of the correct procedures in place to ensure you’re in line with fire safety regulations.

We’re here to help you be confident in your fire safety. Simply fill out the form below and one of our team will get back to you.

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Prefer to chat to us over the phone? Call Steven on 020 3740 3744

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, health and safety or fire safety advice. Shield Safety Group 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 Group services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email

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