More than just a duty
The evacuation drills are obligatory in buildings intended for more than 50 people, and this issue is regulated by proper legal regulations (they will be discussed briefly in this paragraph). However, such exercises should be performed not because of their compulsoriness. As Elżbieta Bojanowska from Allcon Investment points out: The evacuation drill is always a perfect occasion for practical verification of existing procedures and systems that function in the office. It is also a chance for checking out and assessing the reaction of employees who are in the office during the alarm as well as people responsible for their security, e.g. security workers. Additionally, the lack of such exercises means unreadiness to quick evacuation in the moment of real danger, the effects of which can be tragic (e.g. increase in death toll). The regularly conducted evacuation drill gives the sense of security to the building’s owner and it allows all users to practice the proper habits of behavior during the fire. This educational asset is crucial and thus the evacuation drill cannot simply be called a tedious necessity – says Elżbieta Bojanowska.
Such exercises reveal all possible procedural or technical mistakes which occur during the evacuation drill. It is of great importance in the context of real danger. It is better to draw conclusions during the evacuation drill, which does not lead to tragic results, than in the actual moment of danger when one mistake can lead to death. The exposure of potential problems during the drill allows to implement such solutions which protect office users in the case of real danger.
The issue of fire security is regulated by the decree of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration from 7th June 2010. Owners or managers of the properties are obliged to conduct the periodic evacuation drill in buildings for over 50 people every two years. It is a perfect occasion to train people in the area of practical rules applied during the evacuation and to verify the correctness of functioning of technical systems responsible for fire safety – explains Michał Rejkiewicz, Project Manager of SPIE Poland. According to the regulations concerning the term for conducting the evacuation drill, the district (city) chief fire officer should be notified about it at least one week before its performance.
Evacuation – stage by stage
It is worth remembering that the official partner of the action is the State Fire Brigade, and – as it was mentioned above – the term of the periodic evacuation drill should be notified to the local department in advance. Moreover, the support of the facility management team is necessary during such exercises because of the knowledge of both specifics and technical conditioning of the building.
At first, it is important to specify the type of danger because its exposure enforces the evacuation. As Project Manager of SPIE Poland Michał Rejkiewicz observes: We are not talking here about a situation when, for instance, Manager orders Security Commander to evacuate the building, but performing such activities that make the installed systems operate automatically and inform users about the necessity of evacuation, or when the building's services independently detect this kind of danger and act in accordance with both the guidelines included in the Fire Safety Manual and the proper procedures.