The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Taking action on hearing the alarm – Part 6

July 26, 2018 12:13 pm

In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management or have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we have been looking at the importance of effective fire procedures in an organisation. In part 5, we began discussing what action should be taken on hearing the fire alarm and talked about the difference between evacuation and alert signals. We continue from that point in Part 6 by establishing what should happen when the evacuation signal is heard.


The evacuation signal must be heard by the building occupants and understood as an instruction to evacuate the building immediately. There should be no delays to collect belongings, to finish an item of work or a phone call, to finish a meal or pay for it. An evacuation signal means that the person hearing it should simply and immediately make their way to the nearest exit.


The fire procedures of any organisation should consider what measures should be put into place to deal with occupants, which may include members of the public, who seem reluctant to evacuate promptly.


Safety measures taken by members of staff while evacuating are allowable and might include switching off equipment that itself may be a fire hazard (for example, cooking equipment).


As the building occupants evacuate, all doors should be closed behind them, particularly any doors which are designated fire doors. If easily achieved and appropriate, this may include the closing of windows but each environment and situation must be considered before its inclusion in the fire procedures. The closing of doors and, in particular, fire doors is important as this will slow the spread of fire from one area of the building to another. Fire doors have a minimum of 30 minutes of fire resistance and this is often long enough for the Fire Service to attend and put out the fire. The closing of windows will help to reduce the amount of oxygen available to the fire.


All building occupants after evacuation from the building must attend the pre-determined assembly point, so that they may be accounted for. No person should be permitted to re-enter the building under any circumstances and the building will remain off limits until the Fire Service have attended and declared the building safe to enter.


If the fire alarm is silenced, this does not mean the fire has been extinguished and it is safe to return to the building. The alarm may have been silenced by the Fire Service, or it could be that the fire has caused damage to the fire alarm system.


In part 7 of this series, LWF will look at any special duties which may be contained within the fire procedures. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.




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