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Fire Safety - Practice Makes Perfect
February 8, 2008 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
Your fire protection plan includes a strategy for occupant evacuation in an emergency. As with anything else, in order for that leg of the plan to work, you've got to practice, practice, practice. In the stress and confusion of an actual emergency building occupants must instinctively know how to respond. All too often building occupants are well aware of when the next fire drill is going to be. This blunts the kind of muscle memory response necessary in an emergency. For a successful drill, it's important to make it as lifelike as possible. You have to give notice that they're drills, but you have to catch occupants a little off guard as well. While being sensitive to business needs, try to give as little advance warning as possible and vary the scenario. Don't do something obvious like walk around with a clipboard and a stopwatch. You should also change up the evacuation scenario . The fire safety team could block off a corridor or stair well to force occupants to find their secondary exit for example. Do whatever you need to do to give people a real sense of what it's going to be like when they're forced to walk down ten flights of stairs and train them until their emergency response is second nature.