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June 6, 2019

Bulletin 242 – Safeguarding building occupants

Unfortunately, no one can predict when a fire emergency will present itself. It is critical for the building owner and/or business manager to maintain a current fire safety plan, as the lack of a current plan could result in a host of severe repercussions. For this reason, the code clearly outlines that fire safety plans are to be reviewed as necessary and at increments no greater than twelve months. The fact is, considering the range of possible life-threatening circumstances, building owners, their chosen operators or managers are responsible to review all the fire risks in the building. This includes decision-making processes and adoption of measures to safeguard all the occupants in the building. It also includes the training of the elected supervisory personnel in efficient evacuation of building occupants, and to carry out their roles and responsibilities upon sounding of the building fire alarm.

Although the circumstances of each building fire may be similar, the emergency evacuation measures for occupants will vary depending on the classifications of the building and the nature of business being conduct in the premise. It is also necessary to include a strategy in an approved fire safety plan pertaining to the evacuation of persons requiring assistance during an emergency. These occupants may include persons who may have difficulty using stairwells due reduced mobility, cognitive limitations, or hearing and visual impairments, regardless of whether their conditions are permanent or temporary.

Fire safety plans are to be designed so that they are easily understood and tailored to comply with the code that is specific to the building classification. Even the best fire safety plans will fall short unless the facilities staff learn the essential plan, implement the emergency evacuation procedures, and follow the fire drill requirements. As described in the approved fire safety plan, fire evacuation procedures are the responsibility of building management or the business operator to set in motion, ensuring readiness to deal with an emergency when it arises.


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