Home Resources and advice Fire safety: Emergency evacuation readiness in a building

Fire safety: Emergency evacuation readiness in a building

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Special to Ontario Construction News

There is no doubt that fire and smoke can spread quickly throughout a building, calling for a quick and safe evacuation of the occupants. For landlords, workplace employers, property managers, and various operators of non-domestic occupancies, the evacuation procedures within the approved fire safety plan are to be understood and fully implemented as per the fire code.

This ensures readiness to deal with an emergency evacuation when the need arises. Fire code regulations do identify the importance of maintaining a clear path so as to provide all occupants with adequate means of escape, as well as sufficient emergency lighting units to illuminate all building exit routes. An in-depth maintenance program for the fire and life safety systems, as well the equipment such as extinguishers, fire hoses, etc, is also outlined in the approved plan.

The elected building supervisory personnel are to be familiar with the outside assembly areas (also known as muster points) which are strategically marked on the site plan drawings. As evacuees gather at the muster points, the building supervisor or other designated emergency management personnel will be able to execute a roll-call and identify missing evacuees to the city fire services arriving at the scene. If there are any occupants with hearing / visual impairment, physical limitations, or who are wheelchair-bound, special procedures for each of these persons are described in the approved fire safety plan.

It is a fire code requirement to regularly review and update the contents of each fire safety plan, including floor layout drawings. In fact, under the fire code, they are to be updated when deemed necessary, and at increments of no greater than 12 months. The review and updates include ensuring on-going accuracy in the plan of the building layout, the placement of the fire and life safety equipment, the current list of persons requiring assistance, emergency contact/phone information, etc.

Advanced updates, such as those required by structural modifications, extensive changes to floor layouts, renovations, fire safety system upgrades and building ownership transfers, etc. may warrant re-submission of the plan to the city fire services for re-examination and acceptance. In addition, although a fire safety plan bears a dated stamp of acceptance and/or an approval letter, requirements of the fire code likely to change over the years.

This article was contributed by Firepoint, a Brampton-based company, develops code-compliant fire safety plans on behalf of building owners, to properly equip asset managers to properly evacuate a building’s occupants in case of fire. See www.firepoint.ca or phone (905) 874-9400.

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