It is a legal requirement to ensure the safe evacuation of everyone, including impaired persons, in an emergency. There is a common misunderstanding that it is the responsibility of the emergency services (the fire brigade) to ensure the safe evacuation of persons from a building. This is not the case, so who is responsible for fire evacuation?
Today’s legislation stipulates that it is no longer the duty of the fire brigade to make sure the workplace is safe. The duty now lies solely with the ‘person having control’.
It shall be the duty of every person having control over premises to which this section applies to;
(a) take all reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire on such premises,
(b) provide reasonable fire safety measures for such premises and prepare and provide appropriate fire safety procedures for ensuring the safety of persons on such premises,
(c) ensure that the fire safety measures and procedures referred to in paragraph (b) are applied at all times,
(d) ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of persons on the premises in the event of an outbreak of fire whether such an outbreak has occurred or not.
It shall be the duty of every person, being on-premises to which this section applies, to conduct himself in such a way as to ensure that as far as is reasonably practicable any person on the premises is not exposed to danger from fire as a consequence of any act or omission of his.
(e) the holding of fire safety evacuation drills at specified intervals and the keeping of records of such drills
The regulations may, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing subsections, specify requirements with regard to any of the following
(a) provide the necessary measures to be taken appropriate to the place of work for first aid, fire-fighting and the evacuation of employees and any other individual present in the place of work, taking account of the nature of the work being carried on and the size of the place of work,
(c) for the purposes of implementing the plans, procedures and measures referred to in this section and section 8
(i) designate employees who are required to implement those plans, procedures and measures, and
(ii) ensure that the number of those employees, their training and the equipment available to them are adequate, taking into account either or both the size (a) of and specific hazards relating to the place of work.
The responsibility clearly lies with the building management or service providers to ensure there is a suitable procedure in place to evacuate everyone. The ‘person having control’ must nominate a sufficient number of ‘competent persons’ to implement procedures in the event of an emergency evacuation from the premises. This calls for an emergency evacuation plan to be in place.
A PEEP is a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan. It must be a bespoke escape plan for any individual who may not be able to reach a place of safety (the assembly point) unaided or within a satisfactory period of time in the event of any emergency.