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Emergency procedures in the event of Fire

by Andy Croft

This presented in good faith for your consideration. Please do think about the subject and plan for it. You may well have to ask your site to clarify some questions that it raises.

Who is responsible to ensure that an effective evacuation takes place in the event of a fire? The answer to this very important question is probably you. Depending on both the terms of contract plus any "Notes to Hirer" that may be issued. And unless you ask, you may never see them the way some outfits work. That would not unfortunately prevent you (assuming you survived) ending up in court and prison.

If you supply your own Gophers to control the general membership, it Is probable that you should ensure that they know what the fire procedures are. This is particularly true if you have any disabled or infirm members that may require assistance in an emergency. In the case of wheelchair people, there should be house procedures that say how to get them out. For example, the control of the Evacuation Lift if there is one. There should be refuges on longer routes and possible on stairs, where the infirm can stay or rest until the majority of people have got out.

One thing that you should definitely do, is ensure that all fire exits are kept free from obstructions. This can happen very easily and should be watched for especially where there is ether much movement or material. For example, at Speculation the position of the main desk created a choke point that could easily have caused problems in an emergency. Try to keep it mind when you're planning your layout.

You should encourage people with disabilities that would stop them responding to a Fire Alarm to make themselves known. (If you're using a hotel, make sure that they know as well.) In buildings where there are multi-stage fire alarms, evacuation of disabled persons should commence at the sound of the first one.

Techniques for the evacuation of disabled persons on stairways

Blind people can best be guided on level surfaces by taking a helper's arm and following. On stairways the helper should descend first and the blind person follow with a hand on the helper's shoulder. If the blind person has a guide dog, he/she should be asked how they are best helped. Some guide dogs follow their owners command, but generally, if a helper is leading a Blind person, the guide dog should he held on the leash, not the harness.

Many disabled persons will be able to use the stairway but may require assistance. Some will need to be carried; it is generally preferred for chair bound people to be carried in their own wheelchair.

Remember, if in doubt, ask!


This page updated on 09 July 1999