All new employees must receive fire safety training and be familiar with the facility's fire safety plan. All employees should participate in the annual review of the fire safety plan. Thorough training and regularly scheduled drills to practice evacuation procedures can directly influence the outcome of an emergency situation.
Fire drill requirements are regulated by local and state fire codes, accrediting agencies, and insurance requirements for individual organizations.
While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not provide specific requirements as to the frequency of fire drills, it is recommended that they be conducted at least annually. OSHA standard 1910.156(c)(2) states that if a fire brigade exists and the members are expected to perform interior structural fire fighting, fire drills should be conducted at least quarterly.
Generally, ALL staff should participate at least ANNUALLY in fire exit drills. Some health care facilities will adopt more frequent drills, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. NFPA requires quarterly drills on every shift.
Every fire alarm that sounds should be treated as a true emergency. During a drill, important elements of fire safety training are tested, including:
- Primary and secondary evacuation route locations
- Exiting using the stairwells and NEVER the elevators
- Fire doors that are unlocked, NOT blocked, and NEVER propped open