As more employees work from home we need to consider how we manage our buildings safely for those employees still using them.

Fire evacuation

An increased number of employees are working from home impacting on the current fire evacuation plans. Service Managers or the most senior officer on the premises on any particular day must review the existing fire evacuation plan to consider whether it will be manageable with the employees who are working within the building to evacuate safely. As working from home arrangements progress, this may need to be reviewed daily to ensure suitable arrangements are in place.

In situations where the existing plan is no longer valid, but the building is still operating the following must occur:

  • Nominate a fire marshal who will coordinate any evacuations. This should be the normal fire marshal or their depute if they are still working in the building. If not, an existing fire warden can fulfil this role. The fire marshal will also nominate someone to be in contact with the Contact Centre if the building has an automatic fire alarm.
  • Ensure there are an appropriate number of fire wardens to evacuate all sections of the building if the fire alarm sounds.
  • Nominate 2 individuals to investigate fire alarms to determine if these are a false alarm. These individuals must know how to read the buildings' fire panel and interpret the zone maps for the fire alarm system. If an alarm sounds they will identify where in the building the alarm was raised and investigate whether it is a false alarm or a fire.

If employees are assisting with the fire evacuation who have not done any fire warden training they should complete the Olle module – The Role of the Fire Warden before assisting.

If it is not possible to do the above the relevant senior officer should consider the following:

  • Close off sections of the building to prevent staff access (multi-storey buildings should reduce access from the top down to simplify the evacuation) to reduce the number of wardens required and ensure employees are aware of any new assembly points
  • Reduce the number of assembly points to make the evacuation more manageable
  • Consider what method is appropriate for wardens to communicate and coordinate in the event of the fire alarm sounding
  • Consider whether it is appropriate for the building to remain open. The relevant Chief Officer should be consulted in order to reach this decision and the Building Closure process should be followed.
  • Consider implementing Christmas opening arrangements where this might be appropriate

If the alarm goes off

If it is a false alarm this must be communicated to the fire marshall to tell the contact centre before Scottish Fire & Rescue attend. If the building has a manual fire alarm, the occupants can return to the building following the evacuation.

If the cause of the alarm was a fire, the Contact Centre and SFRS should be notified by the normal process for the evacuation plan.

Employees with Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP)

All employees should, where possible, be encouraged to work from home. In particular any employee with a PEEP that requires them to be evacuated from a building using an evacuation chair should in the first instance be working from home or if this isn't possible, the employee must be relocated to a part of the building where this will not be required. This should be done in discussion with their line manager and the Premises Manager to ensure the person can evacuate safely in the event the alarm sounds.

Use of lifts

The use of lifts within Council offices and schools must cease immediately.

This is due to concerns around the ability of contractors to attend for emergency call outs.