Emergency Evacuation Policies and Procedures

A fire emergency evacuation plan (FEEP) 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. It can include any relevant information in relation to the FEEP.

In certain cases you should nominate persons to implement the fire action plan and give them adequate training in fire fighting and evacuation procedures. The following items should be considered where appropriate:

Fire evacuation strategy

You need to consider how you will arrange the evacuation of the premises in the light of your risk assessment and the other fire precautions you have or intend to put in place.

Simultaneous Evacuation

In most premises, the evacuation in case of fire will simply be by means of everyone reacting to the warning signal given when a fire is discovered, then making their way, by the means of escape, to a place of safety away from the premises. This is known as a simultaneous evacuation and will normally be initiated by the sounding of the general alarm over the fire warning system.

Vertical Phased Evacuation.

In some larger complex premises, the emergency arrangements are designed to allow people who are not at immediate risk from a fire to delay starting their evacuation. It may be appropriate to start the evacuation by initially evacuating only the area closest to the fire and warning other people to stand by. This is normally done by immediately evacuating the floor where the fire is located and the floor above. The other floors are then evacuated one by one to avoid congestion on the escape routes. The rest of the people are then evacuated if it is necessary to do so. The fire warning system should be capable of giving two distinctly different signals (warning and evacuation) or give appropriate voice messages. Horizontal phased evacuation in hospitals and care homes: the floor maybe divided into a number of fire resisting compartments and the occupants are moved from the compartment involved in fire to the adjacent compartment and if necessary moved again. Depending onto the fire situation it may eventually be necessary to consider vertical evacuation. Because of the extra time this type of evacuation takes, other fire precautions maybe be required. These include:

Staff Alarm Evacuation (Silent Alarm)

In some cases it may not be appropriate for a general alarm to start immediate evacuation (Cinemas and Theatres). This could be because of the number of members of the public present and the need for the staff to put pre-arranged plans for the safe evacuation of the premises into action. In such circumstances a staff alarm can be given (by fire records, personal pagers, discreet sounders or a coded phrase on a public address system etc). Following the staff alarm, a more general alarm signal can be given and a simultaneous or phased evacuation started. The general alarm may be activated automatically if manual initiation has not taken place within a pre-determined time.

Defend in Place

This strategy may be considered in blocks of flats were each flat is a minimum 60 minutes fire resisting compartment. It may also be considered in hospitals or nursing homes were patients are connected to life supporting equipment and cannot be moved. The concept allows the occupants to stay put and allow the fire service to extinguish the fire. If the fire spreads and it cannot be controlled then they will initiate a full evacuation. In the case of patients connected to life supporting equipment a decision hase to be made which option is the best, stay or move, either way the patient would be at serious risk.

You should only plan to use defend-in-place, phased evacuation schemes or a staff alarm system if you have sought the advice of a competent person and the fire and rescue service.

Action on hearing the fire alarm

On discovering a fire, it is the duty of every person to sound the nearest fire alarm immediately. The plan should include the method of raising the alarm in the case of fire.

The plan should instruct all personnel upon hearing the fire alarm to act in accordance with the agreed FEEP strategy and if a fire warden's scheme is in force, they, on hearing the alarm, should proceed to pre-determined positions to assist members of the public and staff to leave the building by the nearest safe route.

Lifts and escalators should not be used due to possible electrical failure unless they are part of a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan.

Personnel should not re-enter the building with the possible exception of the Fire Team.

Calling the fire brigade

The Fire Service should also be informed immediately, either by switchboard operator or person discovering fire, dependant on conditions:

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