Q70. What do we need to do for fire emergency plans and training?

Emergency plans are the 'how to' in the event of a fire, drawing together all of the disparate elements (detection, raising the alarm, fire-fighting and means of escape) into a cohesive and understandable format.

Assuming all the relevant fire safety controls are in place, you need to communicate this information not only to your workforce, but also to visitors, members of the public, contractors and other third parties who may visit your site (not all of whom may be familiar with your arrangements for emergency situations). This communication can be done in a Fire Safety Plan as part of your safety management system (in the 'Hazard Prevention - Emergency prevention, preparedness and response' section of your safety management system (SMS) if you adopt the ILO-OSH 2001 model).

For emergency plans, bear in mind that:

• There may be minimum legal requirements for emergency plans outlined on your fire certificate (where appropriate) or stated in the regulations within your jurisdiction that could apply to your business activities or to your business location.

• Arrangements for emergency plans should be documented in your organisation's SMS.

• Your staff will need training (such as drills) and familiarisation with the emergency plans within your building or facility.

• The fire safety risk assessment that addresses emergency plans should be specific to your workplace and reviewed periodically.

• Where there is any doubt as to fire safety issues or requirements that apply at your place of work, contact your local fire authority for advice and guidance.

Many variables determine your particular fire safety arrangements and emergency plans and so you will need to consider:

• Accuracy: The plan accurately reflects existing arrangements put in place after a thorough risk assessment process and will be reviewed periodically.

• Content: The use of written instructions and flow diagrams located at strategic locations in your workplace to show succinct and concise information on what to do in a fire emergency. Ensure that instructions are short, unambiguous and easily understood by everyone who should be aware of them.

• Training: Outline what information, instruction and training is required for your workforce to ensure that the plans are understood.

• Availability: Where are emergency instructions to be made available in your place of work? You will need to identify key locations where specific emergency information is made available, such as printed copies on a safety notice board, in the canteen or in the reception area. You also will need to ensure that all third parties are briefed on your fire safety arrangements (usually during a safety induction) prior to them coming onto your site.

Consider the following factors when compiling your fire safety plan:

• What to do if you discover a fire.

• What to do if you hear the alarm.

• Contacting the Fire Brigade or other emergency response resources.

• Specific actions to be taken by persons assigned emergency duties (such as fire wardens, fire team members or escorts for visitors or contractors whilst on site, etc.).

• Identification of primary and secondary escape routes.

• Location of alarm points and fire-fighting equipment.

• Location of assembly points and muster locations.

• Procedures for dealing with specific scenarios, such as:

• Managing the evacuation of disabled persons.

• Managing the evacuation of third parties on the premises.

• Arrangements for taking a roll-call or head-count at the assembly point.

• Arrangements for undertaking shut-downs or other emergency procedures for high risk areas, work equipment or work activities in the event of a fire.

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