Emergency Action Plans… Fire

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Fire is a frightening enemy that can rapidly devastate anything in its path. Unfortunately, the very safeguards that have been established to protect us from its ravages may be the instruments of our destruction. The manual pull fire alarms generally found throughout our buildings provide an early warning when properly used, but are quite irksome when activated as a prank. Similarly, smoke detectors are wonderful life and property saving devices, but when they function without apparent reason they are aggravating. However, the ignoring of either of these alarms can result in disaster.

If a staff member receives a verbal report of a fire:

  1. Immediately notify the front desk of the report and the need to begin emergency procedures.
  2. Go and investigate so the report can be confirmed or refuted for the front desk, as they will have already begun the procedures outlined in the section “If the front desk receives a verbal report of a fire.” This will fulfill the investigation of that section’s part 2.
  3. If there is a fire, go to the section titled “If you see smoke or fire.” You have already done the second portion of that section’s part 2.

If the front desk receives a verbal report of a fire:

  1. Immediately notify the fire department that you have a report of a fire, giving them the JCC’s name and address, your name, and the specific location of the alleged fire in the facility (if available). You should stay on the telephone to confirm or refute this initial report.
  2. As you call the fire department, dispatch someone to investigate the report. They are to verify or disprove the validity of the report and tell you immediately so you can apprise the fire department. If for some reason you are alone or cannot dispatch someone to check on the status, proceed as if the fire was confirmed (but explain the situation to the fire department).
  3. Notify the executive director (or whoever is in charge) of all aspects of the situation.
  4. If so directed by the executive director or the fire department, begin a systematic notification of all areas of the building to be evacuated. Keep a written record of the areas contacted. Maintaining a calm, steady voice, deliver the following message: “I am sorry to disturb your activity, but management has requested that everyone in your portion of the facility vacate the premises. Please close any open windows, shut off any fans, and close the door as you leave. Please exit the building via the exit route posted just inside the doorway of your activity area.”
  5. When all affected areas are alerted, evacuate the premises yourself.

If a fire alarm signal (manual or automatic) is activated, the front desk should:

  1. Immediately notify the fire department of a potential fire situation, explaining that a fire alarm has sounded. You should provide the name and address of the JCC and your own name, then you should stay on the line to confirm or refute the validity of the alarm. (See note below)
  2. As you call the fire department, dispatch someone to investigate the alarm. They are to verify or disprove the validity of the alarm and report immediately to you so you can apprise the fire department. If for some reason you are alone or cannot dispatch someone to check on the status, proceed as if the fire was confirmed (but explain the situation to the fire department).
  3. If the alarm is valid, go to step 3 of the above section (If the front desk receives a verbal report of a fire) and complete the procedures found there.
  4. If the alarm is clearly false and was generated by the pulling of a manual station, reset the alarm and make certain the area is secure. If the alarm was generated by the automatic portion of the system, the cause of the malfunction must be found immediately and rectified. No portion of the alarm system should ever be left dysfunctional if at all possible. The entire system should never be turned off or left dysfunctional without a full fire watch.

Note: An optional procedure, if requested by the local fire department because of an inordinate amount of false alarms, would place a 3-minute buffer between the time that someone is dispatched to determine the validity of the alarm and the actual notification of the fire department. If the front desk has not heard from the party dispatched within the 3-minute window, they should complete step 1, then do steps 3 and 4, as step 2 will have already been accomplished.

If you see a fire or smoke:

  1. Remain calm, but respond quickly. Do not act in a way that may incite others to panic.
  2. Immediately activate the nearest manual pull alarm and call the front desk. Identify yourself and explain the exact location and the apparent extent of the situation.
  3. If you have been trained in fire extinguisher use, have disconnected the electrical current in the fire area, and can return to the fire area without endangering yourself, use a fire extinguisher to extinguish or contain the fire. DO NOT USE A FIRE HOSE unless you have been trained in its use. NEVER ENTER A FIRE INVOLVED AREA! Maintain a clear escape path at all times, fighting the fire without endangering yourself.
  4. If you cannot extinguish the fire, close all doors and windows that you can without placing the fire between yourself and your escape path. Evacuate the area. If you are using the fire hose, you can continue to play water on the fire if that can be done from a safe location.
  5. Remain available to direct the fire department when they arrive.

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about JCC risk management issues.

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