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Important Note:

June through November our agency may become prohibited from binding coverage should a “Tropical Disturbance” enter the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea.

In these cases we may be unable to bind new coverage quoted in open proposals until the storm leaves our area and our binding authority has been restored.

Please arrange your coverage protection early to avoid this type of delay. While we regret any inconvenience, the carriers impose these restrictions on all agencies.

Do You Conduct Regular Workplace Fire Drills?

Do you remember your elementary school years? How about the suspense you felt every time your school had a fire drill—as you lined up single file and marched slowly from the building to your group’s designated meeting spot. During good weather, a fire drill could be fun. During bad weather, they were a little less pleasant. But they served a purpose either way: to teach you to respond quickly, calmly and safely in the event of a building fire. Fire drills can serve the same purpose for your workforce today.

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not require employers to conduct fire drills in the workplace, it strongly recommends them. As they state in one document, “It is a good idea to hold practice drills as often as necessary to keep employees prepared.” Your business insurance carrier may have stronger feelings about drills. Some require clients to hold period drills to ensure the safe evacuations of employees. Drills may also be necessary to satisfy local fire codes.

Why Should I Conduct Fire Drills?

When you give your employees the opportunity to practice emergency procedures in a simulated—but safe—environment, you reduce their risk of harm in an actual life-threatening situation. Written evacuation procedures included in your workplace safety plan are not enough. Unless you physically run through them, you cannot evaluate their effectiveness and make changes to improve them. Also, there’s the previously mentioned issue of insurance and local fire codes. If you’re on the fence about conducting workplace fire drills, take a moment to call your insurance agent and the fire marshal to confirm the legal necessity.

How Often Should We Drill?

Your insurance policy or local fire codes may dictate the frequency of your fire drills. However, if they do not, consider the number of fire hazards in your workplace. If your office houses flammable materials or is located within a building that is difficult to exit (such as a high rise), you may want to conduct quarterly drills. If there are few fire hazards at your location, twice-yearly drills may be adequate.

Is a Surprise or Planned Drill Better?

While scheduled/planned fire drills minimize workflow disruption, surprise/unannounced drills are better for evaluating the emergency readiness of your workforce. If you’re just instituting evacuation procedures, or have recently made some changes, a planned drill will give you the chance to take your staff through the evacuation step by step. However, if you’re practicing established procedures, a surprise drill will give you the best indication of how your people will react in a real fire emergency.

Take the time to evaluate the results of every fire drill immediately after the event. Make note of issues such as employees who did not hear/respond to the alarm, equipment that wasn’t properly shut down, assigned evacuation routes that were not followed, unexpected corridor or stairwell obstructions, and employees requiring assistance. Look for ways to adjust your workplace procedures to account for or eliminate these issues.

If you’d like assistance incorporating regular workplace fire drills into your workplace safety plan, or determining if your insurance carrier or local fire codes require them, contact your workplace safety advisor.