“Should social distancing be maintained during an emergency evacuation such as a fire?” is a question that is being asked, the simple answer is “NO”

The Government guidance for working safely during Covid-19 states that “in an emergency, eg an accident or fire, people do not have to stay 2m apart if it would be unsafe”

As there is a potential for changes to the working practices and maybe layout within your workplace the “Fire Risk Assessment” should be reviewed to ensure that it identifies such changes and the risk from the changes are considered.

The changes could include

  • Changes to access/egress and traffic routes to a one-way system
  • Partial closure of premises that could affect the means of escape
  • Fire resisting doors being propped open to prevent people touching handles and to increase ventilation in the building
  • Changes to the use of the premises
  • Changes to staffing and occupancy levels, possibly reducing the number of ‘competent persons’ to undertake emergency duties, including assisting in any evacuation

Any Personal Emergency Egress Plans (PEEPs) will need to be reviewed, and if close contact is required suitable hygiene measures should be put in place.

Assembly points should be reviewed to determine if social distancing is possible, or if additional points need to be established.

Although social distancing may not be possible during evacuation you should not delay the evacuation because of this.

The National Fire Chiefs Council provides useful guidance regarding fire safety advice to business at

https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/write/MediaUploads/COVID-19/Protection%20documents/NFCC_Protection_-_COVID-19_Protection_Advice_to_Businesses_-_9_April_-_FINAL.pdf

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