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Fire Procedures

In the event of fire, people need to know exactly what they need to do.  The person discovering the fire in the first place might need to raise the alarm, call the fire brigade and inform someone in charge. 

People who hear an alarm might need to be given instructions on how to evacuate the building.  In fact, this is quite an important consideration in many Churches and Places of Worship which are occupied by members of the public as they might not know what the alarm sounds like or know what to do in a fire

Fire Procedure

The Fire Procedures document outlines what needs to be done in the event of a fire emergency within a building.  For the smallest of Churches and Places of Worship, a small 'Fire Action' poster might be adequate, as long as it is comprehensive enough to ensure people know what to do.

The following sections would normally be included:

  1. Action to be taken by a person who discovers or suspects a fire.  This might include raising the alarm, contacting the emergency services or informing someone about the fire.  Additionally, a fire extinguisher use policy might be included to make sure that only trained and authorised personnel are encouraged to use extinguishers.
  2. The evacuation procedure to be followed when the alarm has been raised, such as leaving the building by the nearest available exit route and assembling at a specified location.  This part might also include plans for stewards to inform the public if this is required as part of the plan.
  3. The measures to be taken to ensure that the building has been evacuated.  It is common practice for nominated fire wardens or marshals to systematically check all parts of a building, and these trained people will need instruction on how to do this safely.  An alternative might be a register, which is useful for smaller groups.
  4. The procedure for calling and liaising with the emergency services.
  5. The procedure for silencing the fire alarms, making sure that a fire alarm is never silenced by an unauthorised person or when it is not safe to do so.

The document can also outline preventative and proactive fire safety measures, such as:

  1. Responsibility for fire safety, including who undertakes Risk Assessments, testing fire alarms, checking fire extinguishers and ensuring exits are kept clear. 
  2. The company name, address and telephone number of fire extinguisher and fire alarm service companies.
  3. Fire prevention measures, including any specific requirements needed in the building to prevent fire and allow people to evacuate the building quickly.  This might cover, for example, the safe use of candles and instructions to keep fire exits clear.
  4. Details of where specific fire safety documents are kept, such as the fire log book and Risk Assessments.

There are some groups of building user who might not be able to respond to a fire alarm warning, such as those who are physically unable to evacuate, those who do not recognise danger and people who have an adverse reaction to emergencies or alarms and who might panic.  An evacuation plan needs to be put into place to make sure that people are identified and assisted if this is required.

Evacuation Plan

An Evacuation Plan is simply a floor plan showing where fire safety equipment and exit routes are located.  In all but the simplest of buildings, where the exits routes are obvious and equipment easy to find, an Evacuation Plan is a good way to portray important safety information.  Standard symbols can be used to show fire equipment and arrows can point towards exit routes.

A plan like this needs to be on display next to any fire alarm system controller, especially if the system uses more than one detection 'zone'.  This is mainly for the benefit of the Fire and Rescue Seri vice but is also useful for routine testing and maintenance.  Such zone maps are usually provided by the alarm system installer.

Fire Action Poster

The Fire Action Poster is a  version of the Fire Procedure document (and in a number of very small premises it might be adequate on its own).  Posters should be on display throughout the building to remind people exactly what the need to do if they discover a fire.  The format you use is up to you, but there must not be any confusion about what needs to be done.

Many sign suppliers stock a range of fire action posters, but it is important to check that the instructions fit in with the Fire Procedures as some generic posters might not be suitable.  It is possible to create your own poster, in which case the font should be clear and easy to read and it is recommended to laminate the poster to make it durable.  We have some examples on this Website.


Any person directly affected by the procedures, such as staff, stewards and group leaders, would need to be instructed and trained as to their responsibilities.  This can be a one-to-one talk (especially where the responsibilities are more complex), a presentation or short film.  Those needing to perform specific tasks, such as a fire warden, needs to have specific training for that task given the very risk of them being in a building where there might be a fire while they check the building has been evacuated.

Practice fire drills are useful to make sure that everyone who has a specific responsibility knows how to put the procedure into practice.  Fire drills are also a good way to identify flaws in the procedure or safety systems and equipment within the building.  It is recommended that fire drills should be undertaken every 6 months.

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