Emergency Evacuation Part 1 – Fire Drills

As children, most of us went through the experience of fire-drills at school. They were often a special treat because it meant we got to be somewhere other than our classroom. If we were lucky, it gave us more time to cram for a test.

Because real emergencies are so rare, few people take fire drills seriously. The thing to remind everyone is that these drills are meant to practice what we should and should not do in the case of a real emergency. While practicing your fire drills, focus on these four goals: What, Where, How, and Who:

  1. Know what to do.  Stay low under the smoke. Use stairs instead of elevators.
  2. Know where to go to be safe and so others know where you are.
  3. Know how to get out of harms way – identify both a main exit route and a backup.
  4. Know who is missing and who is safe.

Most people think that in the event of an emergency they will just naturally know what to do. But in situations where main routes are blocked, people can get disoriented and panic. According to Scott Owens of Blutinuity,


“Studies show that large percentages of employees do not know the best route out of the building if their main route is blocked. Research also indicates that in less than 60 seconds, a fire can fill a room with enough smoke to make it disorienting and difficult to find exits.”

It is extremely important to practice using not only one emergency exit, but an alternative exit as well in case a main exit is blocked. The more educated everyone is, the more effective the fire drills will be and the better everyone will be prepared for an actual emergency.

As with most business processes, it is important to have systems in place to ensure your people are safe.  Appoint a leader and identify your specific plan of action. Each business will vary on the specifics, ranging from clipboards to electronic systems.  Our XPressEntry Emergency Evacuation System is built on mobile devices to let you know who is safe and who is missing as quickly as possible for hundreds or thousands of employees in the event of an emergency. Please contact us if we can help you improve your process.

With the hot months of summer and fire season upon us, right now is a great time to sit down with your family or co-workers and discuss the procedures to take in case of a fire.  Hopefully by the time Family Fire Drill Day comes on October 1st, we will already be well prepared!

By David Carta, Telaeris CEO & Liz Womack, Telaeris Marketing Analyst


  1. SortingHat says:

    I agree with having fire drills but I don’t agree with them being noisy alarms as there are some people with mental issues that can’t handle the noise to the point any other sound on a normal day might set them (the mentally unstable) people off and false panic is just as bad if not worse then the real panic.

    Besides the schools that had the huge loss of lives had to do with poor building construction with very few exits that were not very clear. Most schools have very clear exists and if you are not near the fire there is no need for you to panic and rush out the same time everybody else is.

    In fact the response in leaving a building should actually be staggered so not everybody is crammed in the hallways at the same time depending on what part of a building the threat is located and determined which is much easier for crowd control.

    Fire Alarms should in actually be renamed to a *Fire Evacuation* without the noise and hype of one so communications can be more effective for the real thing.

    I truly believe that for K-12 schools actual fire drills that involve the FD should be during NON school hours like a weekend or a teachers in service day which the firefighters can use the building to practice response times without being blocked by students.

    Fire Evacuations should be planned where students will know it so lesson planning can be made. Maybe have it be part of the lessons where the teacher speaks about fire safety telling kids that at the end there is going to be an evacuation to show kids where exits are and how to proceed. Without the alarms going off teachers can explain to students better while it’s happening so they get the idea.

    Check out this article by Campus Safety magazine before you firefighters and firefighter families come running in with the pitch forks.

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