How to stay fire safety-compliant during Covid

Given the need to social distance, most of us will panic at the prospect of getting our teams to exit the building en masse for a fire drill. However, Covid-19 has changed the way we work and, for many of us, our office layouts and we need to make sure our buildings continue to comply with fire safety regulations.

The exercises below will ensure that key members of staff stay up-to-date with evacuation procedures and are able to produce a record of fire safety training. 


  • Tenants and managing agents are asked to inform Metro Safety of any changes in day-to-day working practices that might have an impact on fire safety, especially evacuation procedures
  • All staff should be reminded of what to do in the event of fire alarm activation upon their return to work

Fire drills

  • All building tenants should be informed of any upcoming drills. At a minimum, fire wardens, new staff and those who have recently moved into the building should participate in the drill. Supervisors or team leaders who would lead their teams during a fire evacuation should also participate
  • Those with restricted mobility should not take part, but instead should be given extra training and information
  • Contractors and visitors should be advised of the drill and stay with their hosts during the drill itself or leave with the host if they are taking part in the drill

Fire Wardens’ duties

Before any evacuation, all fire wardens must:

  • Make sure all exit doors are accessible, unobstructed and can be opened without a key/fob/card before any drill takes place. This should be checked daily
  • Confirm all alarm call points and fire extinguishers are accessible and unobstructed
  • Confirm if any member of staff has a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) and that anybody referred to in the plan understands their role

During evacuation:

  • Confirm that all staff, visitors and contractors taking part in the drill evacuate the building, preferably via a designated escape route rather than normal access routes
  • Remind those taking part to respect social distancing
  • Confirm that any Disabled Refuge Communications Systems in the escape routes are working
  • Report to the Assembly Marshal

Assembly Marshals’ duties

When the fire alarm activates:

  • Report to the assembly point
  • Confirm that all fire wardens have reported safe
  • When roll call is complete, advise the Evacuation Drill Observer of its completion
  • Remind people to social distance

Evacuation Drill Observers’ duties

Before the drill:

  • Review escape routes/assembly points and routes to it, confirm they are clear and unobstructed
  • Confirm alarms can be sounded and silenced three times in quick succession
  • Confirm that changes to working practices are unlikely to impact upon fire safety arrangements and evacuation procedures (as far as is reasonably practical)

During the drill:

  • Activate the alarm at the pre-arranged time, silence it after one second. Repeat this twice more, so the alarm sounds three times for 1-2 seconds each time, with a 1-2 second gap between each activation
  • Observe the evacuation to make sure procedures are followed and social distancing is respected
  • Report to the assembly point

After the drill:

  • Give the usual debrief, including any issues and paying close attention to how any new working practices might impact fire safety arrangements or evacuation procedures
  • Give a short, pre-scripted presentation using the flip chart/slides provided by Metro Safety
  • Discuss any PEEPs with fire wardens
  • Confirm wardens are aware of any PEEP requirements and that these have been practiced recently