From industrial facilities to multi-story office buildings, creating site-specific fire pre-plans and sharing them with first responders prior to an actual emergency is critical to the safety of employees and responders. But for companies with numerous locations, establishing customized, company-wide response plan templates can ensure a cohesive, yet site-specific standardization of best practices.
Off the shelf, generic plan templates will not address every site-specific aspect of a facility. An enterprise-wide template should serve as an outline of required information, populated with site details, and may be useful to responders if highlighted in an stand-alone format. The information listed in a fire pre-plan, such as floor plan(s) and details of on-site hazardous material(s), are required by multiple agencies (OSHA, DOT, EPA, USCG) as part of an overall emergency response plan. However, other specific fire-fighting information, such as construction details, hydrant, and utility valve locations are specific to each location. The information contained within a site’s fire pre plan should be shared with responders prior to an emergency.
The purpose of pre fire emergency plans are to ensure a coordinated, expedient, and safe response in the event of a fire. However, pre plans are only effective if accurate and pertinent information is included. Depending on the operation, pre-plan templates can range from the simple to complex. Utilizing a customizable template allows each site to provide the necessary data required to assist responders in determining the best response for the specific scenario.
Despite the response situation or circumstances, a fire pre plan template should include, but is not limited to the following:
- Building/site layout information
- Fire suppression information
- Hazards locations
- Utility information
- Exposure information
- Water supply
- Evacuation needs
- Occupancy information
- Special procedures for handling, storage and control of items that have been identified as major fire hazards
- Mutual aid resources
Responders continually verify the importance for fire pre plan simplicity, clarity and accuracy. Template formats should reflect “best practices” and should be periodically reviewed by responding fire department. From the initial information-gathering phase, to a pre plan application during the response; crucial response information must be shared to ensure a timely and effective response.
Below is a compilation of insightful fire pre plan helpful hints from various first responders and fire departments:
- Storage and Plan Access:
- Implement a means of easily accessible pre plan storage and retrieval. Web-based pre plans can offer password protected accessibility options
- Update plans and communicate with external responders and fire departments often. Include status updates of new buildings construction and renovations being performed.
- Template formats:
- Create easy-to-read formats. Responders may be reading these plans at night, in periods of limited light, and in inclement weather. The easier to read, the better it is for all responders.
- Separate large complexes into color-coded quadrants. Response strategies can be developed for each quadrant, making it much easier to respond to fires in large complexes.
- Site Access:
- Update external responders on perimeter gate entry codes whenever changes are made.
- Identify location of alarm panel locations, and key box locations.
- Hazardous Materials:
- Specify location and identity of stored hazardous materials
- Include known quantities of hazardous materials, if applicable
- Training and Exercises:
- Coordinate response exercises with fire department training drills
- Best Practices and Advancements:
- Implement lessons learned and new firefighting tactics and equipment into response plans
Just as fire extinguishers are accessible to employees, response plans must be accessible to responders. Companies should involve local fire departments and specialized emergency responders in the development of fire pre plans, and conduct coordinated fire drills to ensure the safety of individuals and response capabilities of responders.