Fire Evacuation Procedures in the United Kingdom

The government in the United Kingdom compiled and updated all existing fires safety laws in 2005 and 2006 to produce a new piece of legislation. This is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales. The governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland passed similar legislation in 2006. The new laws require that all non-domestic premises have a fire-management plan, including an evacuation plan. The Fire Safety Advice Centre has given guidance on what such plans should include.

Notices of Procedure

The premises should have a visible fire notice detailing the procedure staff and visitors should follow in the event of a fire. In larger premises, these notices may need to give specific instructions, based on where staff are located and their particular risks.

Response Procedure

There must be a clear procedure so that people know what to do if they discover a fire. Normally the person who discovers the fire should activate a fire alarm, while staff should know who is responsible for alerting the fire brigade.

Fire Warden

An appropriate number of people--for example, one per floor--should be designated as fire wardens. The fire wardens should be responsible for ensuring staff know the fire procedures and for supervising any evacuations.

Evacuation Style

Most premises can use simultaneous evacuation, in which everybody follows the same procedure to leave at once in an orderly manner. In larger buildings, a vertical phased evacuation may be more suitable. This means people leave on a floor-by-floor basis, beginning with the floors closest to the fire, to avoid congestion in stairways. Other evacuation styles include horizontal phased evacuation, in which people move from room to room, depending on the spread of the fire.

Assembly Point

There should be a designated assembly point, or multiple assembly points for buildings with a lot of staff. Assembly points need to be a sufficient distance from the building to avoid any hazards posed by the fire, such as flames or debris. With multiple points, there should be an agreed procedure to make sure each fire warden can communicate with the others. While the assembly point must not be enclosed, it is useful if some form of shelter is available in case of poor weather.

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About the Author

A professional writer since 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, John Lister ran the press department for the Plain English Campaign until 2005. He then worked as a freelance writer with credits including national newspapers, magazines and online work. He specializes in technology and communications.