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Guide to Creating a Fire Evacuation Policy

A fire evacuation policy sets out the procedures that allow for a safe evacuation of a workspace in case of a fire or emergency, to ensure all occupants and visitors get out safely. 

Having a fire evacuation policy is essential to comply with the UK Fire Safety Legislation.

Why You Need a Fire Evacuation Policy

It is a legal requirement for employers to have a fire safety procedure, ensuring all employees have adequate evacuation procedures. 

Fire evacuation policies vary depending on the size of your organisation:

  • Small organisations may opt for a general fire notice, that is signposted where all staff can get familiar with it
  • Larger organisations, or those with higher fire risks, require a more detailed emergency evacuation plan

Fire Evacuation Policy

The contents of a fire policy include:

  • Fire Evacuation Strategy
  • Actions on Discovering Fire
  • Actions Upon Hearing Alarm
  • Escape Routes
  • Fire Marshals
  • Assembly points
  • Fire fighting and Extinguisher Equipment
  • Liaison with Emergency Services

Evacuation Strategy

There are various evacuation strategies, depending on the size and use of your premises or organisation. Below are three common options. Depending on which is best suited for your situation, you must communicate this with all occupants in the building. It is also important to note in your policy that visitors should be made aware of fire safety procedures.

Simultaneous Evacuation

This is the most frequently used fire escape strategy – where all occupants react to the warning simultaneously, making their way out of the premises to a place of safety.

Once the warning alarm sounds, people make their way via the escape to safety.

Vertical Phased

With this evacuation strategy, the floor of the fire, and floor above, are evacuated first, with other floors following one at a time. The objective of this is to avoid congestion in stairwells, to minimise chaos. If this strategy is chosen, distinct signals such as voice messages should be used so that occupants can easily identify when they should remain where they are, or continue to escape routes.

Horizontal Phased

This strategy is commonly used in hospitals, where the floor is divided into a number of departments. With this procedure, occupants move to the adjacent department, and can be moved again if necessary. Although this is helpful for larger buildings, it does take time to implement, and also requires voice alarm systems.

PEEP (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan)

You must also take into consideration any procedures or assistance that disabled or sensory-impaired people may need to escape. You can take advice from organisations that represent groups of people, to ensure that you meet their needs. These procedures may include use of an evac-chair, which fire marshals must be trained in.

Action Upon Hearing Alarm

This section should outline the action to be taken by both fire marshals and occupants upon hearing a fire alarm sound, including assisting members of the public or staff leaving the building via the safest route, with information specifying that lifts and escalators should not be used.

Calling Emergency Services

This states that emergency services should be informed immediately, including information on whether staff will need to be put through to a switchboard beforehand, and if so, the action they need to take.

Cleaners and caretakers should also be familiar with the procedures and plan. Prepare contacts with external emergency services. 

Key Escape Routes

Importantly, a map of the escape routes should be included in your fire evacuation policy, with a layout of the premises ensuring occupants can identify key escape routes. When creating this policy, it is essential that your building must have at least two exit routes, as far away from one another as possible, which can be unlocked from the inside.

You should hold regular fire drills, so that occupants can familiarise themselves with escape routes and procedures.

There should be appropriate signage throughout your building, including stairway and floor identification signs, and signs showing fire escapes.

Fire Marshals

These are employees that are responsible for a safe evacuation in the event of a fire emergency, to ensure all persons are accounted for. Fire marshals may be required on each floor or department, depending on the size of the premises.

Your fire evacuation policy should define who the designated fire marshals are, outlining what training they have had – including the competent use of fire extinguisher and in depth knowledge of Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan (FEEP).

Discount Fire Supplies offers fire marshal online training, designed to give your responsible person the knowledge that they need to carry out their required duties.

Assembly Points

In your fire evacuation policy, determine where the assembly points are, and how roll call is taken. When deciding assembly points, take into consideration the location of the premises, calculating the number of staff and if they need to cooperate with other occupants. There also needs to be appropriate signage, so that all occupants can easily and quickly identify where the assembly points are.

Fire Fighting Equipment

Fire marshals should all be trained on how to use fire extinguishers and equipment, and a record of this training should be retained in your policy for future reference. In addition to this, your fire evacuation policy needs to outline how often equipment, including first aid kits, should be checked to ensure that they remain operable.

Liaison with Emergency Services

Once emergency services attend the location, they will need to be briefed on the situation. Ensure your Fire Policy details who should liaise with emergency services and fire brigades, outlining what information they will need to know e.g. the source of the fire, any persons missing from roll call.


Once you have your fire evacuation policy, it should be shared with all occupants and relevant people within the premises. The policy should also be regularly reviewed and updated as needed. You can also take feedback during training exercises, tweaking procedures to ensure that they are efficient and effective.