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July 8, 2019

Bulletin 243 – Building Fire Evacuation Measures

Although a typical fire safety plan contains a broad range of requirements, its main emphasis is to provide building operators and managers with the evacuation procedures needed to minimize the threat conditions occupants or employees may encounter during a fire emergency. The sooner building occupants are alerted towards evacuation by the customized fire alarm system, the greater the likelihood that any potential losses can be substantially reduced. For this reason, fire safety plans clearly establish the evacuation solutions that are tailored to specific requirements of the building usage and classification. Once a fire emergency is underway within a building, there must be a safe means of evacuation for all occupants. Building management must maintain clear paths of escape to the exit ways, and provide a sufficient number of emergency lighting exit fixtures on these paths.

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Customized building fire safety plan manuals also outline the advance preparation required for the activities and events that occur just before the fire emergency starts, or during the first few minutes afterwards. These include floor warden and supervisory personnel roles and responsibilities, as well as routes to the pre-designated outside assembly area to easily account for all exiting occupants. While the fire safety plan contains comprehensive guidelines to ensure full compliance with the fire code, identifying all the potential building fire risks in advance is by far the best line of defense to reduce the risk of fires from occurring in the first place.

Review of the approved fire safety plan ensures that the building occupants gain confidence and become familiar with emergency procedures. It is to be noted that although a fire safety plan bears the stamp of acceptance and/or letter indicating the fire safety plan meets the requirements, a building manager’s responsibility is far from over when it comes to implementation. Regardless of whether the building has a newly approved fire safety plan or one which is already in place, building managers are responsible for ensuring that all applicable requirements are followed at all times. As per the fire code, keeping the fire safety plan updated as deemed necessary, at increments of no greater than 12 months, is as much a requirement as is its implementation. This will ensure effective utilization of fire safety systems that protect the occupants in the event of a fire emergency.