Balancing budgets. Fire vs Evacuation.

Balancing budgets. Fire vs Evacuation.

Jul 15, 2021, Industry News

When it comes to life safety, most businesses spend proportionally far more money on their fire alarm system than their evacuation management system. While most businesses have a legal requirement to install and maintain a fire alarm and detection system, for buildings that are complex, multi-story or have any hazardous activities taking place – these systems are costly. This leaves the risk of evacuation management becoming a secondary budgetary concern which is all too often overlooked. And without suitable funds it isn’t unusual for businesses to have to adopt a low cost roll call system or process. In our experience, such ‘homemade’ systems are ad hoc and as a consequence can have a direct and negative impact on the successful outcome of any evacuation. 

For buildings which carry out a roll call as their go to checking method, this involves pre-printed spreadsheets of employees names. Where this is not practicable, software is needed to print out the names of everyone then in the building at that given moment. In reality supplying this information seamlessly, without time delay, and with the right people in place to deliver it is difficult. In buildings with hundreds/thousands of employees, can you afford the time to manually work out who is working from home that day? New Hybrid working patterns have created an additional challenge that can’t be ignored. 

Most businesses are likely never to experience the stress of a real emergency situation. However, we know that, when the worst happens and there is an all-out evacuation, the fire services will demand answers to these two key questions. Immediately.

1. Where is the fire/emergency?

2. Are all the people out?

Modern fire alarm and detection systems provide reliable and effective communication of the problem. And like most inbuilt fire safety protection measures, such as sprinkler and smoke control systems, they are expensive to install, needing ongoing maintenance and upkeep.

Whilst they are vital for life safety, these systems are not a priority of the fire service in an evacuation emergency. The key information that the fire and rescue service needs is assurance that no-one is in the affected area. 

The priority question should be  “Where are your people and are they safe?” 

In emergency situations like a fire, high tech access control systems are suddenly rendered useless and modern ways to track employees (such as face/thumb recognition) can no longer be relied upon, because in the interests of safety, internal doors automatically open to ensure that no-one is locked in. It’s clear that in an evacuation emergency simple, low tech solutions are best. One that is independent of other systems and trusted to perform. At any time.

Because of the importance of the information placed by the fire and rescue service, your businesses’ evacuation management system should be regarded as an essential investment that works alongside other safety systems. 

At TagEvac® we soon realised that for systems to be effective they should not rely on technology, individual memory or verbal communication. Evacuation systems should be simple and foolproof, and able to withstand any stress test.  Such systems ensure that there is an easy visual way to show which areas are clear and which areas may still have people in them. Fire services rely on information they need quickly and having easy to read visual data is a real advantage. It helps Incident Managers not get overwhelmed with information, and it allows the fire services to make their response appropriate to events unfolding at that time. We only need to think of recent major fire tragedies to understand that accurate fast information is of real value.

So whilst fire safety systems are essential, putting aside enough budget to ensure that your company has the right evacuation management system should be of equal importance.

Has your business got the balance between protecting premises and people right? 

Established in 2009, TagEvac® design and manufacture management systems to simplify Evacuation. Supplied globally, please contact us for further information or advice.