Evacuation Planning

Evacuation Planning Strategy 


The concept of Industrial and Commercial Parks, although not new, is becoming more popular for a number of reasons. Proximity to potential suppliers and interested bodies, enhanced security, shared services and increased diversity of customer exposures are some of these reasons.

It is a natural expectation and occurrence, that tenants will also change from time to time, and with such changes, the risk profile in terms of Fire Safety will also change, brought on by the changes in needs, materials and activities specific to each tenant.

Fires that are not rapidly brought under control in the inception phase may result in the spread of heat, flame and various noxious or toxic products of combustion.

Immediate effective attach on a fire is critical in keeping the fire isolated to a specific room or area. Where this is not achieved, escalation of the event needs to be implemented. Within the process of escalation, the possibility for the need of evacuation increases

This plan based partly on best practice concepts published in NFPA 1616, outlines the actions required to ensure an effective and safe evacuation of tenants and general public which may be on site at the time of a fire.

The plan is localized and is phased into three potential stages of evacuation, starting with evacuation of the initial unit involved, escalating to evacuation of a set of buildings and finally if required, evacuation of the entire park.

For any evacuation to succeed in a safe and controlled manner, it is important that each tenant is aware of the process, understands such, and educates and informs their staff as to procedures to be followed in the event of a Fire or similar emergency.

Aims and Target Audience

The aims of this publication are

  • to encourage tenants to consider the needs of people of all ages, sizes, abilities and disabilities in those plans;
  • to give guidance on providing safe evacuation for people of all ages, sizes abilities and disabilities; and
  • to identify good practice in providing safe evacuation for everybody.

Impacts on People

Types of disabilities

There is no 'average person'. People have different levels of abilities and disabilities. Some of the types of disabilities that you might come across include:

  • mobility impairment, where the speed of movement and the distance that can be travelled is affected;
  • sensory impairment, where the ability to see, hear or smell is affected;
  • intellectual or cognitive disability or mental health impairment, where the ability to understand what is happening and respond is affected; and
  • hidden disabilities, where the disability is not obvious, or is triggered by the emergency situation. Hidden disabilities could include conditions like asthma or heart problems.

Some people are born with a disability. Others will acquire a disability during their lifetime as a result of a medical condition or an injury. People will not fit into neat categories. The severity of some disabilities or the degree of impact may change over time. For example, a relatively small number of people are completely Deaf from birth, but many more people experience some degree of hearing loss during their lifetime, particularly in older age. Some people will have more than one disability.

Tip: Don't make assumptions about somebody's abilities; there are people with disabilities working in all kinds of roles, including police officers, fire officers and professional athletes.

Age and Size

People come in all shapes, sizes and levels of ability.

Some people will be naturally shorter than others, possibly as a result of a medical condition.

Public buildings and evacuation plans are designed with the needs of people of all ages and sizes in mind. This is not necessarily so in Industrial and Commercial parks where activities wide of “public in general” may be undertaken. In the majority of cases, the risk profiling alertness category of “Asleep and Unaware” will not apply to such industrial or commercial park facilities and can thus be included as an exception rather than as a rule. This may influence options in the design of alarm process.

Impacts of disabilities, age and size on evacuation

In any emergency situation, people may react differently to the emergency depending on their abilities or disabilities, their age or their size. This section outlines some typical differences that might happen in

  • recognising the emergency,
  • responding to the emergency, and
  • moving to a safe place.

Recognising the emergency

People who are Deaf or have impaired hearing may not hear a traditional fire alarm bell or siren. They may also miss noise coming from a fire or even loud explosions in some cases.

People who have vision impairments may be unable to see fire or smoke, or may not realise that other people are evacuating.

People with intellectual disabilities, cognitive impairments or mental health issues may not understand an emergency warning, like an alarm bell or strobe light, or they may take longer to understand that others. Noisy bells and flashing lights may also cause stress and confusion. Strobe lights can cause seizures for some people.

Responding to the emergency

People may take some time before they start evacuating a building. They might have to raise the alarm or fight a fire locally using fire extinguishers. They might be checking on colleagues or visitors before escaping.

Research on 9/11 World Trade Center evacuations by University of Greenwich noted some people took time to shut down computers, change shoes or go to the bathroom before evacuating the building. Any time taken for these activities is called the Response Time.

Older people and some people with disabilities may take longer to reach a break glass call point than others. People with sensory impairments may take more time to find out what is going on than other people.

Moving to a safe place

Moving around on the same floor or storey is sometimes called 'horizontal movement' by building designers. People with sensory impairments may be slower in moving around a building during emergency situations than other people, particularly if they don't know the escape routes very well. It can be difficult for anyone to communicate during emergency evacuations, with noisy alarm bells, smoke, stress and urgency all causing problems. A Deaf person may find that they are unable to lip-read or use sign language due to smoke or dim lighting. A person with a vision impairment may find that a noisy alarm bell makes it impossible for them to hear instructions. A person with an intellectual disability or mental health issue may find an emergency evacuation to be very stressful, and may not react as expected. Time spent looking for exits and finding the appropriate route can add significantly add to the time taken to get out of a building.

People with mobility impairments can be greatly affected during emergency evacuations. They may find it difficult to move to other areas of their floor when the evacuation happens. This might be due to their personal abilities, such as their speed of walking when using crutches, or their age. It might be due to the situation around them. Perhaps fire doors that are normally held open will close during an emergency. People with impaired mobility may find that crowds rushing around them makes them unsteady. They may need handrails for support on corridors, ramps or stairs and they may need to rest before they reach the assembly point.

Assessing the risks

The best way to plan for safe evacuation of everybody is through a 'risk assessment' process. A risk assessment involves identifying any hazards or potential dangers, and doing whatever it takes to reduce these risks to an acceptable level. A risk assessment plan is written down, usually forming part of the safety programme of an enterprise or site.

Risk assessments need to be reviewed regularly, particularly when there are changes in the physical environment, the users or the building, legislation or local procedures.


There are a number of pieces of legislation that place a responsibility on public bodies, building owners and employers to ensure the safety, health and welfare of anyone using a particular building. These responsibilities are in addition to the moral duty of care to building users.

General Design Principles

Continuous Improvement

It is unlikely that the first version of the evacuation plan will be perfect. Experience with trial evacuations and real evacuations will help to identify any weaknesses in the plan to be fixed.

As part of the Continuous Improvement Programme, it is important to get feedback from everyone involved in the evacuation, including building users, fire wardens, and fire services. Pay particular attention to the feedback from people with disabilities. Use this feedback to improve the plan before the next evacuation.

Plans will also need to be updated as the users of the building change, or the external environment changes or when legislation changes. For example, if an employee breaks a leg and is using a wheelchair or crutches for a few weeks, the evacuation plan should be reviewed to ensure that this employee can evacuate the building safely and with dignity.

If building work on a neighbouring site makes access to an assembly point difficult or impossible for some people, the evacuation plan might need to be revised to use a different assembly point while these works are in progress.

A new tenant potentially brings about changes on two fronts, firstly having new persons involved in the site which would require those persons becoming aware of the plan and understanding the various practicalities of the plan, and secondly, new processes or materials which may or may not, significantly alter the entire plan.

Evacuation planning is an ongoing process that needs regular feedback and review to get it right.


Equipment, Facilities and Building Design

When preparing or revising the evacuation plan, it is important to consider what equipment and facilities are necessary for the building. This section details some of the equipment or facilities that can help to make sure that everybody can evacuate the building safely.

Recognising the emergency

It is important to ensure that people with disabilities will be able to raise the alarm and recognise alarms in emergency situations.

Raising the Alarm:

Call points should be located clear of corners and at an appropriate height to be reachable by all potential users. It is important that these points are known by all occupants, preferably indicated by appropriate signage.

Automatic fire detection systems can be very valuable in addition to manual alarm systems. Fire detection systems are mandated in certain occupancies and will be included in Risk Profile reports. Where mandated, it is important that these are installed and maintained in accordance with relevant standards.

Alternative solutions for raising the alarm include visual alarms, paging systems, and vibrating devices.

Visual Alarms

Strobe lights can be used to give a visual signal of an emergency situation. Strobe lights are usually red, and are wired up to the emergency alarm control system to flash when required.

Vibrating Alerts

Vibrating alerts are particularly useful where noise levels are high and call for hearing protection to be worn. Vibrating alerts are portable devices that are normally linked to the fire alarm system. When the alarm is triggered, these devices provide a vibrating signal to warn the person to evacuate the building. Some of these devices can also provide a flashing light, a text message or an audible tone in addition to the vibrating signal. Some systems allow for different types of paging messages, so they can be used both for emergencies and for general paging. These devices generally use a local area wireless network connected to the fire alarm system. In large buildings, more than one transmitter may be required for full coverage. These systems will need to have a battery backup and fault monitoring to the same standard as the fire alarm system.

Good management systems will need to be in place to ensure that units are maintained, and are kept fully charged. Keep a tight control over the units to make sure that people don't accidentally walk away from the building with the pager in their pocket. These systems are generally useful in buildings where the users are known.

Some fire alarm systems can be integrated with the standard mobile phone SMS text messaging systems. This means that any mobile phone with vibrating alert can be used as a pager. These systems depend on the standard mobile phone network for delivery of the alert message. This network does not always work straight away, so there might be some delay in getting the message to the user. Good management systems will need to be in place to ensure that working phones are available and charged. Be careful when adding new phone numbers to the fire alarm system, as one incorrect digit will mean that the user will not get the relevant message. Some facility should be available to test that numbers have been configured correctly, without setting off a full fire alarm.


  • Aim to ensure that alarm systems can communicate effectively with everybody, particularly people with hearing loss.
  • Consider visual alarms and vibrating alert systems to supplement traditional bell or siren alarms.
  • Make sure that fire wardens sweep isolated areas of the building, including meeting rooms, private offices, bathrooms etc during evacuations, provided that they are not putting their own safety at risk.

Finding your way around

Getting out of a building in an evacuation can often be more difficult than usual. Sometimes, the nearest and quickest evacuation route is not the normal exit route from the building. People will generally tend to evacuate along the route used to enter a building, particularly if they are not familiar with the escape route.

For people with disabilities, these problems can be even worse. People with vision impairments may find it hard to see emergency signage or may have difficulties in finding their way when only emergency lighting is available or in smoky conditions.


Emergency signs tell people the best way to leave the building. It is essential that these signs are easily and quickly noticed, and are easily understood.

Emergency Lighting

It is essential that emergency lighting is provided in case of a power failure to the building.

Make sure that the emergency lighting levels are adequate for people with vision impairments. Luminance levels should be at least 0.5 lux at the floor of escape routes and at least 1.0 lux in open areas. As light fittings fade over time, the lighting levels of newly installed systems should be well above the minimum recommended lux levels. Emergency lights must achieve this level within five seconds of a power failure.

Photo-luminescent directional signs on floors are often seen on airplanes but are not currently in common use in buildings. These brightly coloured signs are highly visible in normal conditions. They use a chemical material to absorb and store light. If there is a power failure or other emergency, this energy is slowly released to light up signs or direction indicators. These materials can be located in the floor covering or at low levels on walls to direct people to the nearest exit. They are particularly helpful in smoky conditions, when it might be hard to see signs that are higher up.


Most people think of handrails as something to lean on or provide physical support. Handrails can be also be very helpful along corridors or passageways in guiding people towards exit routes. Take care that the corridor is wide enough to take the handrail without restricting the capacity for people to evacuate.

It is important that handrails contrast visually to the background wall, so that they will stand out clearly for everyone. Use raised detail along the handrail to convey information to people who have impaired vision. This information could be about the floor level, the direction for escape or the location of the refuge areas.

Moving around

A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is used per tenant, taking into consideration the unique risk profile and evacuation requirements of each tenant. This plan feeds into the Community plan which includes other tenants which may be affected in the event of an Emergency. Each tenant should have a PEEP to be used to agree and document appropriate evacuation procedures for such tenancy.

Moving up or down

Evacuation Lifts

Evacuation lifts are designed to continue to operate in the event of a fire. They have special design features to ensure the safety of passengers. Evacuation lifts are the most robust and effective solution for evacuation of people with disabilities from upper levels of a building.

These lifts can eliminate the need for handling, lifting or transferring people with disabilities during evacuations and evacuation drills. They can eliminate the need for fire wardens to have re-enter a building and travel upstairs, against the flow of people coming downstairs, to help with evacuation. They can eliminate the manual handling difficulties and other risks associated with use of these chairs. They can eliminate the risk of people refusing to use evacuation chairs, particularly in open or public buildings.

Some buildings may have fire-fighting lifts, designed to bring fire-fighters and their equipment up to a fire quickly. These lifts can often be used for evacuations before the fire services arrive at the building. Once the fire services arrive at the building, they will normally take over responsibility for controlling any evacuation or fire-fighting lifts and for completing the evacuation of anyone left inside.

Standard (non-evacuation) Lifts

It can be dangerous to use lifts that are not specifically designed for emergency use during evacuations.

Evacuation Chairs

Evacuation chairs are designed to allow people with disabilities, particularly those with mobility difficulties, to be helped to move down and, in some case, up stairs during an evacuation. These chairs can be used where it is not safe to use lifts to evacuate, and where an evacuation chair is less risky than remaining behind at a refuge area. These chairs usually require one or two operators to guide the chair down the stairs. Evacuation chairs can usually be folded into a compact size, and can be mounted to a wall at or near a stairwell.  Most of these chairs require a wheelchair user to transfer out of their own chair into the evacuation chair. A transfer board can help the wheelchair user to safely transfer into the evacuation chair. Evacuation chairs have a load capacity limit, so care must be taken with larger people to make sure that the chair is safe for the intended user.

Some evacuation chairs will allow a wheelchair user to remain in their own chair. These work either by clamping the wheelchair to the evacuation chair, or by allowing the wheelchair user to enter a platform, and then securing the wheelchair to the platform with straps. This ensures a more dignified experience for the wheelchair user, as there is no lifting or personal handling involved. It also means that when they get to the bottom of the stairs, the wheelchair user is still using their own wheelchair, and can move independently from there.

Most evacuation chairs are manually powered, and rely on gravity to move the user down stairs. Some evacuation chairs are battery powered, and can be used to bring somebody upstairs, from a basement level or underground car park. The powered chairs can also be particularly useful when dealing with heavier people. Battery powered devices need to be charged regularly to make sure they are available to use when required.

Some people might be reluctant to use an evacuation chair. This could be because they are not familiar with the chairs, or because they are nervous about any personal handling that might happen while transferring out of their own wheelchair. It could be because they are worried about a particular medical condition or injury. It is important to consult employees or regular building users, to decide how best to evacuate. The agreed approach can be documented in a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP). It may be unsafe to use an evacuation chair given the size, weight or medical condition of the person concerned.

Tip: Don't assume that all wheelchair users can or will use an evacuation chair during an emergency.

When choosing an evacuation chair, consider:

  • the best way to ensure a safe and dignified evacuation for any people with disabilities in the building;
  • how to tell people who will need the evacuation chairs about these chairs, before any emergency happens;
  • how many evacuation chairs are needed and where they should be stored. This will depend on the usage of the building and number of floors served by each stair;
  • the best type of evacuation chair for the building - powered or manual - using own wheelchair or needing transfer - suitability for the staircases in the building;
  • the time required to transfer to and from the evacuation chair;
  • the need for wheelchairs to be available for use at ground level, or for personal wheelchairs to be brought to ground level at the same time;
  • whether using evacuation chairs should be part of the regular evacuation drills

Refuge areas

Refuge areas are defined in the Building regulations as follows:

Refuge areas are areas within a building, separated by fire-resisting construction and provided with a safe route to a storey exit, where people with disabilities can await assistance for their evacuation.

There are a number of difficulties with using Refuge Areas as part of evacuation plans:

  • Anybody who is expected to wait inside a building while most others are evacuating may well be nervous or fearful about staying behind.
  • Fire wardens or personal assistants may be reluctant to put their own safety at risk by staying behind with a person with a disability.
  • It can be difficult to make sure that the fire services know how many people are waiting to be rescued and where they are located.

There are some important points to be considered when Refuge Areas are used as part of an evacuation plan.

  • Plan to move people out of the building where this is possible and practicable. Avoid leaving anybody behind at a refuge area, unless there is no safe option to evacuate them from the building.
  • Meet with the local fire services, so that they are aware of planned usage of refuge areas. They can make sure they have the right equipment, training and enough fire-fighters to evacuate people from the refuge areas.
  • Make sure each refuge area has a two-way communication system that can be used by people with a range of disabilities. This should allow communication between the refuge area and the management control point. For people with hearing loss, the system should be able to let them know that their call has been acknowledged.
  • The Refuge Area should be fitted with clear signage to identify the refuge, the location and floor level, and the evacuation procedures. This information should be accessible to everybody.
  • Make sure that the communications system at the management control point allows for the location of the person at the refuge area to be identified quickly and reliably. Remember that the person at the refuge may not be familiar with the building, and may not know what floor or staircase they are on. The person at management control point may not be familiar with the building either. It could be a fire officer attending that building for the first time, or a replacement security guard. Ideally, the location of each refuge should be clearly marked on the control panel of the communications system. If a control panel indicator (e.g. light number 8) needs to be translated to a physical location (e.g. west stairwell, level 3), make sure that this information is easily and reliably available.
  • Make sure that anybody with a disability who may have to wait at a refuge is aware of the evacuation procedure beforehand. For employees or regular building users, a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan is a useful to document the evacuation procedure.

Escape Stairs

All staircases in new buildings should be designed for use by people with disabilities, to provide access to and from the various floor levels in the building. Where a lift is provided, the requirements for the stair design in an existing building are less demanding. The staircase provided for access to the building may not always be the staircase intended for use in an emergency. The requirements for access and evacuation differ. Don't assume that the stairs provided for access automatically meets the needs for evacuation.

Evacuation Policies and Plans

  • Safe evacuations depend on the skills and abilities of the staff involved in making evacuations happen. Fire managers and fire wardens play a critical role in making sure that everyone can get out of the building safely. It is important that staff are trained and prepared to carry out their functions.

Fire Plan

In preparing an evacuation policy, the first step would be to review the current Fire Plan which consists of the following:

  • Safety Statement;
  • Fire and General Records Register;
  • Minutes of Health and Safety meetings;
  • Any existing emergency evacuation plan;
  • The Fire Certificate for the building, including any fire engineering strategy that formed part of the fire certificate application for the building. The Fire Certificate will usually comprise of a written report with associated fire safety drawings;
  • Existing access audit or risk assessments for evacuation that may be available, which identify problems and detail the mitigating steps that have been taken in the past;
  • Information on life safety systems installed in the building. Such systems will include fire detection and warning, escape lighting, fire suppression, wayfinding and smoke control systems;
  • Information on the specification and operation of passenger and other lifts;
  • Feedback reports from previous emergency evacuations, both actual and fire drills;
  • Statistical information on fire alarm activation frequency, false alarms, locations times etc;
  • Records of fire safety or evacuation training given to staff;
  • The number and location of fire and evacuation wardens;
  •  Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) of all tenants;
  •  Feedback from building users.

Evacuation Strategies

The type of emergency evacuation procedure required will normally be decided when a building is designed. This decision will be made based on the layout of the building, the fire safety measures available and the planned usage of the building.

There are three main strategies commonly used:

  • Total evacuation - Everyone in the building starts to evacuate at the same time, when the alarm is raised. The evacuation facilities are designed to cope with the planned maximum numbers. In this scenario, people with disabilities will be interacting with others during evacuation. This can increase the time required to get everyone out of the building.
  • Phased evacuation - A pre-alarm system is used for areas away from immediate danger. During this stage, vulnerable people can begin to escape. A general alarm will be raised a short time later. This can allow staff to assist people with disabilities towards the exits during the initial phase.
  • Zoned evacuation (sometimes called 'progressive horizontal evacuation') - The building is designed to be evacuated progressively as the extent of the emergency develops and is understood. The building is designed and constructed so that immediate evacuation is not required in all areas, and people are moved gradually away from the area of danger. This strategy is often used in healthcare buildings, as people can be gradually evacuated to other areas on the same level, behind fire resisting structures. They would only be moved down to lower levels or to outside if necessary. It is essential that the neighbouring zones have enough room to accommodate people from the other zones.

If an agreed evacuation strategy is to be changed, this may require some construction works to the building structure and the fire safety systems.

Evacuation Policy

As with most management issues, it is important that an evacuation policy is agreed, written down, and signed off by senior management. This is sometimes called an egress policy. The evacuation policy would typically form part of the safety statement. 

The evacuation policy should consider any restrictions on access to the building. These restrictions could be general capacity limits relating to all users, or could be specific to people who need additional support during evacuation.

  • The policy should be dated and signed by senior management.

Planning for Evacuation

An Evacuation Plan should be developed, based on the Evacuation Policy detailed above. This plan should outline the roles and responsibilities of staff for evacuations. It may well include building floor plans, details of evacuation equipment and routes, and procedures for visitors who may need assistance during evacuation.

Tip: Make sure your evacuation plan considers the needs of new staff, temporary staff and contractors working at the site.

Personal Emergency Egress Plans (PEEPs)

A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (or PEEP) is a tool for agreeing and documenting evacuation arrangements for employees or regular visitors to a building. In an ideal world, PEEPs would not be necessary, as everyone would be able to evacuate safely at the same time. Many of our existing buildings have limitations on how some people can be evacuated. For example, if it is not possible to use lifts during an evacuation, a PEEP may be required to document the alternative arrangements required for a wheelchair user.

The drawing up of a PEEP must be done in partnership with the relevant person affected and needs to have a degree of inbuilt flexibility to allow for exceptional circumstances. The PEEP is essentially an agreement between the management and the individual on what steps will be taken if an emergency evacuation is required.

The PEEP matches the needs of the person with disabilities to the evacuation policy, evacuation plan and relevant facilities. Using a PEEP, it is possible to have assistance pre-arranged through a buddy system, with relevant information about the person’s needs conveyed in advance to the helper.

Employers have legal obligations in relation to health and safety planning and management including evacuation of all employees with disabilities.

Important issues in the development and use of PEEPs include:

  • consultation with the person for whom the plan is drafted is essential;
  • ensuring staff with hidden disabilities can have a PEEP while maintaining appropriate confidentiality;
  • ensuring that the needs of staff members with cognitive or mental health impairments (such as understanding alarm warnings, avoiding panic reactions or distress) are met;
  • ensuring cover is arranged for PEEP assistants who are on holiday, sick or away from the place of work is vital;
  • training needs to be up to date and include practical elements such as drills; and
  • PEEPs need to be reviewed regularly and updated as necessary.

Generic Emergency Evacuation Plans (GEEPs)

While a PEEP is helpful to document the requirements of a known employee or visitor, most organisations need to plan for the evacuation needs of unknown or unexpected visitors. In many buildings, it is impractical or sometimes impossible to check the evacuation requirements of every building user in advance of their arrival. Many existing buildings have limitations on how people with disabilities can evacuate the building. For example, the alarm system may not usable by people with hearing loss.

Implementing The Evacuation Plan

Put the evacuation plan into practice, by training staff and carrying out trial evacuations.

Staff Training

Trained staff can make a big difference to making sure that an evacuation happens smoothly, safely and quickly. It is important that training is done often enough to ensure that staff can put the training into action when required. Training does not have to take place in a classroom or training room. Practical hands-on training on the stairs or at the lift is critical.

Training methods can include classroom training, eLearning, video presentation, hands-on practice, one-to-one training and mentoring. Make sure that enough staff are trained to cover out-of-hours use of the building, and absences due to turnover, holiday or illness.

Training should include the following topics:

  • General evacuation procedure training - for all staff;
  • Specific evacuation procedure training - for fire wardens or others responsible for evacuation of people with disabilities, and for building users with PEEPs;
  • General disability equality training - for all staff, to ensure they will understand the difficulties faced by people with disabilities and can communicate effectively with people with disabilities in an emergency situation
  • Mobility assistance - for anyone responsible for transferring a person from their personal wheelchair or a bed into an evacuation chair - could include patient handling and manual handling training;
  • Use of equipment - for anyone responsible for using an evacuation chair, or managing an evacuation lift, or other equipment - could include use of fire extinguishers for anyone willing and competent for this.

Evacuation Drills

BS 9999: 2008 sets out useful guidelines for running 'Test Evacuations' or evacuation drills. It recommends that these drills are carried out least twice each year. Drills should not be restricted to quiet times or closed hours, as drills need to reflect normal operating conditions where possible.

It is important that any regular users of the building that have disabilities, children and older people are fully included in evacuation drills. It is a good idea to have both announced and unannounced drills to build confidence that staff can react appropriately in a real emergency.

Tip: Practice makes perfect. Evacuation drills are only safe way to test your evacuation plan.

Always hold a detailed review after any drill to make sure to learn from any mistakes. Details of drills should be recorded in the Fire and General register to comply with legislation.

Measuring Performance of the Evacuation Plan

Look for evidence on the effectiveness of the evacuation plan. Good performance could be demonstrated by showing evidence that:

  • monitoring takes place at least annually during live drills;
  • scenarios are included in fire drills to replicate eventualities, such as the loss of an exit due to fire;
  • evacuation policy reflects current situations;
  • the evacuation plan is modified to deal with changing circumstances;
  • someone at senior management level has executive responsibility for ensuring safe evacuation;
  • management at all levels take ownership of evacuation responsibilities;
  • an evacuation risk assessment process is in place and remains effective;
  • significant evacuation failures are formally identified and recorded and that appropriate corrective action is taken;
  • PEEPs are reviewed at least annually; and
  • inspections and tests have been carried out and records maintained.

Some examples of measurements that could be of benefit include:

  • availability of fire wardens or PEEP buddies;
  • occupation levels as a percentage of the total potential occupancy;
  • evacuation times for fire drills;
  • satisfaction of people affected;
  • level of staff knowledge with evacuation procedures;
  • level of liaison with Fire and Rescue Service;
  • levels of maintenance of fire safety systems and aids;
  • frequency and nature of near misses during evacuations;
  • frequency and timing of fire safety training; and
  • number of staff meetings held to discuss evacuation plans.

Reviewing Performance of the Evacuation Plan

It is important to develop and improve the policy over time. Changes in legislation or the way in which the building is used may require changes to the policy. Performance measures outlined above along with feedback from building users will help to improve the policy


  • Develop an evacuation plan that considers the needs of all building users, including people of all ages, sizes, abilities and disabilities.
  • Use PEEPs to agree and document the requirement of specific building users that need extra assistance.
  • Provide relevant staff with appropriate training to ensure that they can put the plan into practice as required.
  • Use realistic Evacuation Drills to test the effectiveness of the evacuation plan.
  • Review the Evacuation Plan periodically, based on user feedback and other information to continuously improve the plan over time.