Fire Escape Plan

A fire can spread rapidly through a building, leaving as little as two minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarms sound. A fire safety plan identifies routes of a building in the event of a fire or any other emergency. It is important to have an outline of how people should move or escape through a burning structure or evacuate when there is a fire threat. Therefore, it is important that everyone in the office should be familiar with the plan and be prepared to follow the plan once the alarm goes off. 

Keeping Staff Informed

It is required that a fire escape plan should be practised twice a year, to make sure everyone knows the routes. Training is also an important aspect that should be provided to all staff, to ensure the safety of employees. This would include that employees are familiar with using or operating any fire equipment if needed without exposing themselves to risk.  

Consideration for all staff and anyone connected with the workplace must form part of how an employer addresses the area of safety health and welfare and specifically the provision of emergency access and egress. 

It is also a good idea to establish roles and responsibilities in the case of an emergency since employees will look for a leader to follow for reassurance and guidance during a fire. Creating a chain of command will establish clear duties as well as minimise delay or confusion during an evacuation. Here are a few roles to appoint:

  • Chief fire warden
  • Fire Marshalls
  • Evacuation Controller
  • First Aiders
  • Fire Teams

The Escape

A route should be identified within the building (this will be dependent on the building layout itself) and it may be necessary to protect this route, by providing fire-resisting construction. 

It is required that all employers carry out risk assessments to ensure that the means of escape remains acceptable. The following needs to be taken into account when assessing the adequacy of an escape route: 

  • Findings or results of the fire risk assessment
  • Size of the workplace, its construction, layout, contents and the number and width of the available escape routes
  • Workplace activity, where people may be situated in the workplace and what they may be doing when a fire occurs
  • Number of people who may be present, and their familiarity with the workplace
  • Ability to escape without assistance
  • Marking and signposting of escape routes
  • Emergency source of lighting

The workplace should have a clearly identified escape route in the event of a fire. It is essential that these routes are always kept clear of obstruction to ensure that all employees can exit the premises in a safe manner in the event of a fire or any other emergency. For example, notice boards should not be placed in the escape routes as any type of paper could be fuel when a fire breaks out. 

Maintenance & Upkeep

All fire equipment in the workplace must be kept in good working condition. This includes all fire doors, staircases, corridors, fire detection and alarm systems, fire-fighting equipment, notices, and emergency lighting. Regular checks should be performed to avoid any failures of systems or equipment. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Are the extinguishers suitable for the purpose and of sufficient capacity?
  • Are there sufficient extinguishers sited throughout the workplace?
  • Are the right types of extinguishers located close to the fire hazards and can users gain access to them without exposing themselves to risk?
  • Have the people likely to use the fire extinguishers been given adequate instruction and training?
  • Is the use of fire-fighting equipment included in the emergency plan?
  • Are all fire doors and escape routes and associated lighting and signs regularly checked?

It is crucial to have a fire escape plan in place as it is a means to save lives and avoid any further risks that might occur. It is the responsibility of the employer to have an updated plan and working equipment regularly checked, so that all employees are well informed in case of an emergency. 

Cairnmead Industrial Consultants are proudly informed and experienced on how each of these pertains to the setup of your operational space, and of the ways in which we can guarantee you the best advice on coordinating your emergency strategies.


Contact us about your needs and let’s put our combined 267 years of experience to work for you. 

Christof Lourens 

CEO Cairnmead Industrial Consultants (Pty) Ltd 

Tel: 012 346 5752 | Email:

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