If a fire breaks out, how do you get out?

Do you know where your fire exits are? What if it’s blocked or there are many people rushing towards it? Do you know of an alternative exit?

Thinking about the answers to these questions can make a huge difference when an emergency actually happens.

If a fire breaks out, how do you get out? Do you know where your fire exits are? What if it’s blocked or there are many people rushing towards it? Do you know of an alternative exit? Thinking about the answers to these questions can make a huge difference when an emergency actually happens.

An exit route is defined as a “continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. “

It is composed of three parts – the exit access, exit and exit discharge. The  exit access is the part of the exit route that leads to the exit such as a hallway. The exit is generally separated from the other areas to provide safe passage to the exit discharge. The third, the exit discharge, is the part that leads directly outside.

It is crucial that building owners, managers and occupants of a building should ensure that emergency exits or fire escapes are unimpeded and can be used safely in an emergency.

According to Compliance Code for Workplace amenities and work environment (2008), these are the requirements for fire exits.

  • Proper Signage. In workplaces that are buildings, the location of doors needs to be appropriately marked and signs need to be posted to show the direction to exit doors to aid emergency evacuation.  
  • BCA Compliant. Employers need to ensure that emergency exits in buildings comply with the requirements in the Building Code of Australia, part D1 Provision for escape.
  • Unobstructed. Aisles and passageways in factories, warehouses, depots and similar buildings need to be kept free of furniture or other obstructions at all times and clearly marked to enable the routes to the exits to be seen in the event of an emergency. For example, side boundaries can be marked by a permanent line of white, yellow or clearly contrasting colour at least 50mm wide or by glowing markers.

Here are some other tips in the maintenance, safeguarding and operation of fire exits.

  • Keep exit routes free of flammable decorations and furnishings.
  • According to the local council, fire exit door should be at least 1 metre wide. It should be large enough to accommodate the number of people who are going to use it.
  • Provide adequate lighting so people to avoid more accidents during an emergency.
  • Remove decorations, signs or anything that might obscure the visibility of the exit door.
  • Mark doors and passages clearly. Install a clear EXIT sign in legible letters and all other doors should be marked with a sign identifying their use.
  • Fire exits should should be kept unlocked from the inside. This is to make sure that the fire exit is accessible at all times.
  • Paint a new coat of fire-retardant lacquer or solutions on a regular basis to maintain their fire-retardant properties.
  • Install a fire protection system that will alert people when a fire breaks out.

 

Fire exits save lives. It is an important aspect of the whole fire protection system and should never be ignored.

 

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