What is a Fire Drill?

What is a Fire Drill?

Every year, people in South Africa die from fires. Why? Fires are dangerous. They spread quickly, the heat from fire can be deadly, it’s difficult to see because of smoke from the fire and breathing smoke and gases from fire can be deadly. Be prepared, because fires can happen anywhere in your home, at work, and outside. They can also be started in many ways. Depending on where you are and how the fire was started, a fire can spread very quickly. You may only have a short amount of time to get to a safe place.


procedures for a fire drill

What should you do?

When there’s a fire inside your building, you need to get out immediately! Since smoke from a fire can make it difficult to see, it’s important to know the best way to exit the building. How do you know this? You should have a plan before a fire even happens. Here’s how to be prepared before a fire:

Have a plan and practice it. This plan should include fire drills. A fire drill can help you practice leaving your building quickly and safely. Don’t forget to talk about different ways you can get out. Learn more about having a disaster plan.

Preventing fires is everybody’s job. Fires wreak havoc among workers and their families and destroy thousands of businesses each year, putting people out of work and severely impacting their livelihoods. The human and financial toll underscores the serious nature of workplace fires.

Unfortunately, there are dozens of ways for workplace fires to start - chemicals, electricity, flammable liquids, combustible materials, compressed gases, smoking, even poor housekeeping. We need to protect against all these potential fire hazards all the time to make sure we’re not part of the statistic in workplaces that go up in smoke.


Here’s what you can do to prevent workplace fires:

Store chemicals properly in tightly closed containers. Read labels and material safety data sheets (MSDS’s) for the fire hazards related to the chemicals you use.

Keep flammable and combustible materials away from ignition sources.

Keep incompatible chemicals away from each other.

Check containers regularly for damage or leaks.

Clean flammable liquid spills right away, and dispose of liquids and cleanup materials properly.

Make sure cords and plugs are in good condition before using electrical equipment.

Don’t overload electrical circuits.

Keep hot equipment away from combustible materials.

Shut down electrical equipment that smokes or sparks.

Obey smoking rules and “No Smoking” signs.

Extinguish cigarettes and matches completely in designated containers.

Handle compressed gas cylinders carefully and keep them away from heat.

Keep your work area free of trash, combustible scrap materials, and other debris.

Place oily rags in metal containers with lids.

Keep machines free of dust and grease.

Report fire hazards you can’t correct yourself.


Despite all prevention efforts, fires can still occur in the workplace. It may occur because of an equipment failure, an unanticipated hazard, an act of violence, or due to a violation of a fire safety rule.

If a fire does occur in your workplace, how well you have prepared will determine the chances of everyone getting out safely and the loss kept to a minimum.

A Fire Drill is a process of practicing how to evacuate a building in case of fire or any other emergency. Usually, the emergency system (e.g. fire alarm/smoke detector) sounds. The building is evacuated as though a real fire has occurred. This is a Fire Drill preparedness check that premises should conduct on a traceable basis.


the purpose of a fire drill

What is the purpose of the Fire Drill?

To ensure that everyone in a building is aware of how to get out of it in the quickest and safest way possible in case of emergency.

To identify any weaknesses in the evacuation strategy; weaknesses in emergency communications procedures and systems.

To test the procedure following any alteration or workplace practices changes.

To familiarize new occupants with procedures.

To test the arrangements for disabled people.

To identify positive and negative reactions of staff to emergency response.


Planning is essential before any Fire Drill.

Determine the Assembly Area.

Determine if the evacuation route, exit doors, and emergency staircases are not obstructed.

Ensure commands and evacuation orders for building occupants are prepared before an evacuation/fire drill starts.

Determine the types of buildings: (one/multiple departments? single/multiple-storey or constructed with fire-resistant materials)

Determine the occupants of the building (number, location, physical conditions. The responses expected from the occupants in emergency situations.)


Procedures for a fire drill

All building occupants should participate in an evacuation/fire drill with the observation of skilled persons, especially, from the fire department.

Circulate details concerning the drill to inform all people of their duty to participate. 'Surprise drills' may pose a health and safety risk.

Inform visitors and members of the public if they are present.

Coordinate the fire alarm drill with any other building occupants / departments. Their awareness of the drill will prevent cases of causing panic and disruption in their premises.

Check external stairs and routes to ensure that there are no hazards or conditions that may cause an accident eg, damage to steps, rubbish or obstructions. The cleanliness & checks of escape routes should be undertaken on a regular basis.

Ensure lifts are not used in the event of a fire with exception of designated evacuation lifts operated by trained personnel.

Nominate 'observers' who should block main routes off (as if affected by fire) so occupants have to use the 'alternative escape routes.' This helps occupants familiarise themselves with those rarely used routes to encourage escape via the nearest available exit instead of using the everyday way.

Ask a member of staff, at random, to set off the alarm by operating the nearest alarm call point using the test key. This will indicate the level of knowledge regarding the location of the nearest call point.

Ensure fire marshals direct occupants to the assembly point and provide control where there is road traffic etc.

The Importance of a Fire Drill

It helps prepare employees for an emergency and pin-point challenges they may face in an evacuation; inappropriate actions, e.g. stopping to collect personal items, attempting to use lifts etc. It helps train every personnel involved about their role of assisting disabled people during emergency evacuations. Activities conducted during evacuation/fire drill are recorded and documented. It helps premises check the effectiveness of their evacuation plans. Problems with the emergency system or evacuation procedures are identified and improved.




Posted date: 19th Oct 2018
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