Means of Escape

Weekly fire tests and evacuation drills for crowded places

As Fire Risk Assessors one of the most common non-compliances with fire safety legislation we find is lack of weekly testing and evacuation drills. This in the average workplace is easy to address and implement swiftly.

However in large buildings that entertain vast numbers of the public (such as hotels or shopping centres) then implementation is not so straight forward. How do you carry out weekly tests and evacuation drills without causing mass panic and economically penalising the business (e.g. if a shopping centre evacuated everybody how many would actually bother to return).

But safety of life must come first and a practicable solution must be sought. Good information and regular, expected regimes of testing would help.

But there are perhaps some tools out there that can help implement systems in public places and crowded spaces, one such example is Alert Innovation’s Shop Alert – Muster Point App which can integrate tests, drills and emergency evacuations.

It is true that regular tests and drills are more challenging in public places but are they not even more important in such an arena?

confusing fire exit signs
Safety signs for escape routes and fire exits in the UK can be very confusing. Understanding where signs should be positioned is one thing but before that people have to comprehend the difference between an exit route and a fire exit. Do you know the difference?
An exit route is the route that occupants of a building are most familiar with. Usually this is also the normal everyday route used to enter and leave by.
A fire exit is an alternative route provided only for use in an emergency. It is not the normal route to leave and enter by.
This is the first common mistake where businesses use ‘Fire Exit’ signs on the normal route and even ‘exit’ signs on the fire exit route.
To compound the confusion further we have a choice of formats. It is currently acceptable to use any of the following formats: ISO, British Standard or Euro Symbols.
ISO signs have the graphic of a green man in front of a white door with a directional arrow. British standard have the same but with supporting wording. Euro Symbols however have a white man running towards a white door with a directional arrow. Either format can be used but must remain constant throughout; mixed standards within a building are not acceptable.

Do you know what the following signs mean? (Mouse over the envelope to reveal the answer)

fire exit sign 1 fire exit sign 2 fire exit sign 3