Emergency procedures must be in place to ensure safe evacuation in the event of a fire or power loss within a building according to Irish Standards 3217 2013.Employers are required by law to prepare and revise adequate emergency plans and procedures and provide the necessary measures for evacuation and firefighting of the workplace and to include adequate escape lighting in the event of a fire and power loss.

Employee’s must carry out a risk assessment to ensure that the means of escape in the building is adequate. If, as a result of your risk assessment, you propose making any changes to the means of escape, you should consult the fire authority before making any changes. When assessing the adequacy of the means of escape you will need to consider the following:

  • the findings of your fire risk assessment
  • the workplace activity, where people may be situated in the workplace and what they may be doing when a fire occurs
  • the number of people who may be present, and their familiarity with the workplace
  • their ability to escape without assistance
  • the size of the workplace, its construction, layout, contents and the number and width of the available escape routes.

All workplaces must have clearly identified means of escape in the event of fire. These escape routes must be kept clear at all times to ensure that everyone can exit the workplace in the event of a fire or other emergency. Arrangements must be conveyed to all those occupying the workplace and particularly to personnel such as fire wardens who assist in overseeing any emergency procedure.

Small Premises

If the premises are small and has a simple layout, the normal entrances and exits may be sufficient. There should be no possibility of anyone being cut off by smoke or flames before they can make their escape. These premises usually have the main entry/ exit and a number of emergency exit doors.

Large or Multi-Storey Premises

Where the building increases in size and complexity, escape routes need to become more sophisticated. The general rule is that people should be able to turn their back on a fire, wherever it may start in a building, and move away from the fire to a safe place. Usually this means outside the building and a safe distance from it in case the fire grows (i.e. not into an enclosed yard, courtyard, etc.). Where there are two or more escape routes, care should be taken to ensure that smoke and flames cannot affect more than one escape route at the same time.

In All Premises:

Escape routes should be kept clear of all obstructions. Generally, escape routes should be at least one metre wide. The escape route should lead to a place of safety, normally outside and away from the building. Doors on escape routes must always be available for use without the use of a key. Depending on the risk, push pads or panic bar devices should be used. Security should never take precedence over safety. Many devices are now available that satisfy both safety and security requirements. Where there are roller shutters or security grills fitted on an escape route, these must be open when persons are on the premises. When considering the escape routes from a place of work, an employer must be sure that that he has evaluated the entire journey to a place of safety. All routes must be kept clear, including areas outside the premises that are included in the escape route. Employees must be made aware of all possible escape routes and emergency drills should be used regularly to practice using them as part of emergency routines. All premises should have an escape plan that clearly identifies the action that employees and others should take in the event of a fire. This may include duties for employees to check areas are clear, close doors and assist others. All personnel/staff should go to there place of assembly. Please note there may be more than one place of assembly. Registration of all people should be taken to make sure there is no one left inside the building.

Disabled Persons:

If there are disabled persons on your premises then their needs must be considered when planning an evacuation strategy. A wide range of possible disabilities may need to be considered, including persons who have less mobility simply because of age. Further information is available from BS 5588 Part 8. Guidance is also available in BS 9999-2008: “Code of Practice for Fire Safety in the Design, Management and Use of Buildings”. This code talks about inclusive design and outlines that accessible means of escape, and the associated fire safety strategy, should be considered as an integral part of the design process, and not as a separate issue. Where a building is designed and managed inclusively to provide access for all users, the facilities provided should, where appropriate, be used to improve egress arrangements. Section 46 of BS 9999 expands this in detail and discusses strategies to deal with people with different types of disabilities including:

  • Mobility-impaired people
  • Wheelchair users
  • People who are deaf and hard of hearing
  • Blind and partially sighted people
  • People with cognitive disabilities

Building Regulations 2010 – Technical Guidance Document M – Access and Use provides useful advice. Also see Promoting Safe Egress and Evacuation for People with Disabilities (138 pages), the Risk Assessment Checklist and the Personal Emergency Egress Plan from the National Disability Authority.

Alternative Escape Routes

When specific escape routes are provided that do not form part of normal circulation routes it is important that employees are made aware of these. A management system should be in place to ensure these routes and exits are kept clear and usable.


Consider how the evacuation of the workplace will be arranged in the light of the risk assessment and the other fire precautions that are in place. These arrangements will form an integral part of the emergency plan and must be included in the instruction and training for employees.

Account must be taken  not only of the people in the workplace (employed or otherwise) who may be able to make their own escape, but also those who may need assistance to escape, e.g. by having adequate staffing levels in premises providing treatment or care.

In most workplaces, the evacuation in case of fire will simply be by means of everyone reacting to the warning signal given when the fire is discovered and making their way, by the means of escape, to a place of safety away from the workplace. The warning is normally given by the fire alarm panel

If you have any questions or comments please contact Corrib fire and security on 091-796246 or 087 205 4016 about our emergency lighting systems.