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Evacuation past source of fire

Guest Peter B

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Dear Sir or Madame, a fire alarm was activated at my place of work. We were evacuated via the normal daily access route that took us directly past the source of alarm initiation and not via the fire exits. I submitted a written concern to our safety officer since I was under the impression that in the event of such alarm, all personnel were to leave immediately via the nearest available fire exit. I was assured that the situation had been appraised, that there was no danger to staff and that the use of the longer normal access route (single corridor) instead of fire exits was permissible. I consider it impossible to safely appraise a fire situation from alarm initiation to evacuation: a matter of a few minutes. Please shed some light on this for me. Thank you for your kind attention, regards, Pete.

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In a fire emergency the occupants should leave by the nearest exit and this would apply to a fire drill. All exits are fire exits in an emergency, some will evacuate by the normal route used every day, others will use designated fire exits, just use the nearest, if it is safety to do so. If you are paying lip service to fire drills then the whole exercise is a waste of time and nothing will be learnt.

There has been research on this matter and it was found that most people will leave the premises by the route they entered the building unless they are told to use all exits. One experiment was a lecture theatre with exits at each corner and when the fire alarm operated they all used the two doors at the front, the ones they had entered by. The second experiment was the lecturer told everybody to use all exits and the theatre was emptied much quicker. The conclusions were fire alarms should be supplemented with voice commands.

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