National Fire and Safety Planners: Fire Drills

June 29, 2023

Practice makes Perfect

Between January and March of 2023, there have been 632 structural fires in British Columbia, according to the Government of BC. In it's quarterly report on the topic, the government also noted that 152 of these fires occured in apartment buildings. These tragic fires have resulted in 13 deaths and 26 injuries across the province.

Fire drills can save lives. No matter what kind of building you work in or occupy, it is important to be prepared for the possibility of a fire emergency. By preparing for and practicing fire drills, we can ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency. Regular drills keep us up to date on procedures and minimize confusion should we need to act fast.

Fire drills are not just for schools. They are essential for any working environment that values the safety and well-being of its employees and visitors. In this post, we will examine what a fire drill is, why they are so important, and how often they should be conducted to keep a buildings’ occupants as safe as possible.

What is a Fire Drill?

According to the 2018 BC Fire Code, a fire drill is an organized evacuation of a building for the purpose of practicing and evaluating the emergency response and evacuation procedures of the building’s occupants.

The purpose of such a drill is to ensure that everyone in the building knows what to do in the event of a real emergency, and to identify any potential issues that need to be addressed with the emergency response and evacuation procedures.

During a fire drill, following standard processes is very important. Building occupants should practice evacuating the building as quickly and safely as possible, following the building's emergency response and evacuation procedures. This may include using designated exits, stairwells, or other evacuation routes, and assembling at designated assembly points outside the building. It’s important to be aware of your nearest emergency exit, and to make a note of the safest way to reach it, in the event of a fire drill.

Fire Drill Frequency

It’s common to wonder how often a fire drill needs to be conducted at your site. In general, the Fire Code specifies that fire drills must be conducted in buildings at least once every 12 months for supervisory staff. However, there are also some exceptions, as detailed below:

  • Day-care centres and in Group B major occupancies: (such as hospitals, jails, nursing homes, etc) fire drills must be conducted at intervals no greater than one month.
  • Schools attended by children: total evacuation fire drills must be held at least 3 times in each of the fall and spring school terms.
  • Buildings within the scope of Subsection 3.2.6 of Div. B of the BC Building Code (high buildings): such fire drills must be held at intervals no greater than 2 months.
  • Fire Drills in a laboratory: drills must be held at intervals no greater than 3 months.

Staying Prepared

Fire drills are a vital part of your workplace fire safety plan, and you should conduct them regularly and properly. If you need any assistance with fire drill planning, training, or equipment, please consider the training services we offer. Our professional fire fighter has the experience necessary to walk you through your fire safety plan, and to help you stay safe in an emergency scenario.

Staying prepared for an emergency is not a one-time undertaking. It is a continual effort, which requires constant diligence from all of a building’s occupants. Revisiting courses to brush up on your knowledge and skills is never a bad idea, as doing so will keep everyone involved as safe as possible in the event of a fire emergency. Conducting drills, having your performance evaluated, and implementing improvements as needed keeps your fire safety strategy effective and up to date!

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