Fire! Do You and Your Staff Know What to Do?

Are you and your staff prepared to respond to a fire at your practice location? 

TMA’s Policies and Procedures: A Guide for Medical Practices  reminds physicians and staff who discover a fire to stay calm and take the following “RACE” actions:

  • Rescue: Remove all staff, patients, and visitors from the area.
  • Alert: Activate the fire alarm and notify the practice manager and the local fire department.
  • Confine: Close all doors and windows and turn off the electricity if possible.
  • Extinguish: Attempt to extinguish or contain the fire, if possible, by using the appropriate equipment.

Here are some tips to help make this happen:

  • Have a written fire-evacuation plan that includes maps identifying the location of fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and emergency exits. Train staff about the plan upon hire and once a year thereafter.
  • Check smoke detectors at least once a month, and change batteries every six months, regardless of whether they are still working. Test fire alarms at least annually.
  • Use only Occupational Safety and Health Administration-approved fire extinguishers, and have them inspected annually or as otherwise recommended; tag them with the inspection date.
  • Make sure exits are clearly marked with exit signs and are not blocked or locked. If emergency exits aren’t immediately obvious, you may need signs leading to them. Also, clearly mark any doors that may be mistaken for exits, such as restroom or closet doors. Prohibit hallway clutter, as it could block an exit or impede an evacuation.
  • Conduct a fire drill once a year. Practice these activities:

    • Using firefighting equipment such as extinguishers;
    • Notifying the local fire department;
    • Evacuating staff, patients, and visitors from the area; and
    • Moving staff, patients, and visitors to a designated space outside the office, if appropriate.

Local fire officials may be available to help with staff training and fire drills. If you have a particular concern, notify the local fire marshal to arrange training for the situation in question. 

Published April 14, 2016


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Last Updated On

December 07, 2016

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