Conduct a Fire Drill

Prepare for the Worst: How to Conduct a Fire Drill in Your Organization

Most states have laws in place that require them to hold at least one fire drill each month for students. These types of fire drills are designed to teach kids how to evacuate a school building in the event of a fire.

But once kids grow up, they don’t always have to continue to take part in fire drills when they enter the workforce. As a result, many of them lose sight of the importance of fire safety and wouldn’t have a very strong fire emergency response if a fire were to start at work.

If your business doesn’t currently hold fire drills on a regular basis, you should make an effort to change that. It would be well worth conducting a fire drill at least every few months to ensure that your employees will know how to react if a fire ever breaks out in your building.

Learn how to carry out a fire drill within your organization below.

Begin by Developing a Fire Evacuation Plan for Your Business

Before you can even think about conducting a fire drill for your business, you will need to sit down and come up with a fire evacuation plan. You should decide the best possible way to get all your employees out of your building in the event of a fire.

If you aren’t sure where to start, you might want to call on your local fire department for help. They should be able to lend a hand when it comes to developing a winning fire evacuation strategy for your company.

Whatever you do, you shouldn’t ever attempt to stage a fire drill without putting a plan into place first. You’re going to be asking for trouble if you do.

Teach Your Employees About Your Company’s Fire Evacuation Plan

Once you’ve created a fire evacuation plan for your company and you feel good about it, you should talk to your employees about it. They’ll need to be familiar with your plan if they’re going to have any chance of being able to take part in a successful fire drill.

Pass out printouts that include your company’s fire evacuation plan on it and ask your employees to study it. Then, quiz your employees on different aspects of your fire evacuation plan until they have it memorized.

Post your fire evacuation plan around your office, too. It’ll enable your employees to nail it down over time.

Choose Leaders Within Your Company to Carry Out Your Fire Evacuation Plan

If you run a very small company, you might be able to lead your employees during a fire drill on your own. But if you have a lot of employees who work for your company, you’ll want to choose leaders to assist you in conducting a fire drill.

Ideally, you will want to have those who work in management positions serve as leaders for your fire drills. These people will already be leading to some degree within your organization. So you’ll feel good about their ability to lead your other employees during fire drills.

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But no matter which employees you choose to serve as fire drill leaders, they should be people who you feel you can trust to do a fantastic job. They should also be people who are at least somewhat enthusiastic about fire safety and fire prevention.

Pick the Right Time to Hold a Fire Drill to Test Your Fire Evacuation Plan

When schools conduct fire drills, they try to hold them at random times when kids aren’t expecting them. They do this in an effort to catch teachers and kids off guard so that they’re truly tested during a fire drill.

This might not be possible to do when you’re running a business, though. You might disrupt your employees and prevent them from being able to do their jobs to the best of their ability if you hold fire drills at random times.

You should, therefore, give your employees a heads up about when fire drills will be held. You might want to go as far as to hold a special meeting on the day before a fire drill to tell your employees about it so that they can make the proper arrangements on their end. 

Communicate Clearly With Your Employees During a Fire Drill

Communication is going to be the key to carrying out a successful fire drill. If all your employees are running around like chickens with their heads cut off during a fire drill and no one is communicating anything to them, your office is going to look like a scene from The Office when a fire drill starts.

From the very start of a fire drill, the leaders that you’ve appointed within your company to lead these drills should spring into action. They should begin talking to those who will be following them and providing them with clear directions.

They should also be using different forms of technology, like these Motorola MINITOR VI voice pagers, to communicate with other leaders within your organization. The more effectively that your employees are able to communicate, the better off they’ll be in the end.

Time a Fire Drill to See How Long It Takes Your Employees to Evacuate

As soon as your employees begin to participate in a fire drill, you should use a stopwatch to time them. Your company’s goal should be to get out of your building as quickly as you can without putting anyone in harm’s way.

You’re going to want to go back and critique your employees’ performances during a fire drill later on. And the easiest way to do this will be to tell them whether or not they ended up making it out of your building in a reasonable amount of time.

The average fire drill should only last between 5 and 15 minutes depending on the size of the building that’s being evacuated. But trimming off even just a few seconds every time your employees take part in a fire drill could make a big difference if a fire ever occurs in your building.

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Make Improvements to Your Fire Evacuation Plan After Every Fire Drill

The initial fire evacuation plan that you come up with for your company shouldn’t change all that much after you hold a fire drill. As long as your local fire department signed off on it, it should be pretty much good to go.

But following a fire drill, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to evaluate your fire evacuation plan to see how well it worked. You might want to make small tweaks to your fire evacuation plan so that you’re able to make it as effective as it can be.

If, for example, you find that your employees are creating a logjam in a particular part of your building while exiting it, you might want to redirect some of them to another exit. This could clear things up for your employees and make your fire evacuation plan work so much better.

Continue to Hold Fire Drills as Often as You Can

If you don’t ever take the time to hold a fire drill for your employees, you aren’t going to get into any trouble or anything. Unfortunately, this is why so many companies choose not to hold fire drills at all.

But you should know that you’re going to be doing a huge disservice to your employees if they aren’t aware of your company’s fire evacuation plan. You’re also going to be putting their lives at risk if there is ever a fire in your building and they don’t know what to do.

For these reasons, you should try to set aside at least a few minutes every couple of months to hold a fire drill. It’ll require you to make a very small sacrifice on your part. But it could pay off in a big way if a fire ever takes place in your building and forces your employees to scramble to safety.

Conducting Fire Drills Can Make Your Employees So Much Safer

The hope is obviously that you and your employees won’t ever have to evacuate your building because of a fire. But there will always be a small chance that one could break out.

It’s why you should get into the habit of holding a fire drill for your employees every so often. The fire drills that you stage will put your employees in a much better position should a fire ever start in your building.

Read through some of the other articles that we’ve posted on our blog to get more tips that will benefit both your business and your employees.