It is a legal requirement to create a safe evacuation route in your commercial premises, however it is used. So that individuals can exit the premises with ease when an alarm sounds, or a fire occurs, your designated team member should create an evacuation plan that complies with the UK government’s requirements.
Your evacuation route should be bespoke to your premises and incorporate any risks that are unique to the building or your business, detailing how these will be avoided during escape. Unique risks can include lifts and escalators, open plan areas, machinery and equipment, food preparation areas, areas containing a high volume of flammable goods, and the size and shape of your premises, all of which should have been identified in your annual fire risk assessment.
The evacuation route must be a clear passageway, be clearly marked, be the most direct way of leaving the premises, provide enough exits and routes for all occupants of your building, and include emergency lighting where needed. You must also ensure all staff are trained and know the escape routes, and have a safe meeting point where employees can assemble after evacuation.
The evacuation plan must also incorporate special arrangements for those with mobility needs, which is an especially important factor if your premises is open to the general public. As lifts and escalators should not be used when evacuating, you may need to introduce evacuation chairs and add additional details to your plan to assist everyone with emergency escapes.
Refer to government guidelines for more information about evacuation plans, and fire safety within the workplace.
An evacuation plan may need to incorporate fire safety equipment for safe exiting of the premises. As your plan must include ‘a clear passageway to all escape routes’, then you may find you need to create routes using fire safety equipment.
In large areas where there aren’t any fire doors, temporary routes may need to be created using fire curtains that deploy when an alarm is triggered. Blocking off hazardous areas, or creating exit routes with a fire curtain can help prevent the spread of fire and will allow for individuals to leave the building without coming into contact with the fire.
Curtains can also be used to block exit routes that are unsafe to use during a fire or evacuation, such as lifts and running escalators. While training can teach employees to use alternative routes during an evacuation, panicked employees or customers may still try to use lifts and escalators during escape. Therefore deploying curtains to block these routes will eliminate the possibility of use and help keep individuals safe.
A smoke curtain, such as the Fireguard Smoke Curtain HS120, will provide adequate smoke protection to allow for the building to evacuate. The curtain creates a barrier between individuals and the outbreak and can be used to cordon off restricted areas to aid with the escape. Linking the curtains to your fire alarm system allows for quick and safe deployment of the curtain.
Along with legally having to carry out a fire drill a minimum of once a year, you must also have your fire equipment tested and maintained annually. This includes any fire curtains or fire shutters installed to help protect your premises from fire.
HAG install and maintain fire curtains in commercial premises. If you would like more information about how our fire curtains can help create an evacuation route for your premises, please get in touch with a member of our team on 0800 072 3444.
HAG offers a wide range of products and services, if you would like further information call 0800 072 3444 now to speak to a member of our team.