As part of the government’s Fire Safety Policy, universities are required to carry out fire drills in all of their accommodation and academic premises. This is so that evacuations can be efficient and safe should a fire break out. Along with regular fire risk assessments, the frequent practice of evacuation procedures is the best way for universities to implement their duty of care and help prevent harm to students and those employed by the university.
The Benefits of Regular Fire Drills
The organisation and implementation of regular fire drills in buildings across a university’s campus has many benefits, including:
- Compliance with UK Government Legislation. It is a legal requirement for universities to carry out a fire drill once a term.
- Students and faculty become aware of the sound of the fire alarm. This allows for quick reaction in a real evacuation situation.
- Tests the alarms. Universities should be regularly testing its fire alarms separately to a fire drill, but fire drills can allow for faults to be noticed and show if any alarm maintenance is required.
- Effective evacuation in the event of an actual fire. This reduces the risk of personal harm and loss of life.
When to Implement a Fire Drill
It is a good idea to carry out fire drills during times when premises are heavily populated, so designated fire wardens and marshals can understand the realities and time span of a building evacuation. By evacuating buildings when in use, those responsible for evacuation are able to outline any amendments that need to be made to their university evacuation policy.
Carry out fire drills during lecture and seminar times in academic buildings, and during the morning or evening in accommodation facilities as these are times where building occupation will be high.
What Information to Provide for Students
Due to the nature of universities, there may be students that will not experience a fire drill throughout their higher education. Therefore, it is essential that all students are provided with information so they know how to safely exit buildings and are aware of the locations of allocated meeting points.
Universities should create an information pack on their induction day, along with fire safety signage that is clearly visible being displayed throughout all university premises. Within the fire safety information, there should be outlines of evacuation procedures, safe meeting points, and any other information that is specific to your particular university.