Office Fire Drill Report Essay
What to Do
Things to Remember
1. Remain calm, use common sense, and provide aid. Take time to think before acting.
2. Always evacuate the building immediately when you hear an audible alarm or see a visible alarm, when directed by authorities, or when the building becomes life-threatening, e.g., smelling natural gas.
3. Proceed to the emergency gathering point for further instructions.
4. Do not use the telephone for reasons other than emergency purposes.
5. Do not enter elevators during an emergency. If stuck in an elevator do not attempt to force open stalled elevator doors, use the emergency phone to contact Public Safety.
6. Keep a flashlight handy if you are in an area that does not have emergency lighting or natural lighting.
7. Know the location of all marked exits from your working area.
Dial 911 to reach the emergency dispatcher who can summon medical, fire or police response. These individuals can also contact emergency personnel who are not “first responders” but will oftentimes be needed to assist the first responders with incident resolution.
1. If you are in a hazardous situation, don’t endanger yourself further. Avoid unstable structures, smoke, electrical hazards, fire, radiation, chemical, or biological exposure, etc. Do not risk your well being to save personal or University property.
2. When you call, give your name, telephone number and location, and the nature and location of the emergency.
3. Don’t hang up until the dispatcher ends the conversation.
4. If phone lines are dead, take the message to 413 Academy Street in person or use a cell phone if available and dial 831-2222.
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1. Summon help by dialing 911 to report the illness or injury.
2. Provide the level of first aid for which you are trained and equipped.
3. Whenever possible, have someone meet the ambulance or Public Safety officer at a clearly visible location to quickly direct them to the injured person.
4. Never put yourself at risk to help the injured or ill person.
5. Whenever possible, have someone accompany the injured or ill person to the emergency care facility.
6. Inform department personnel about the incident to assure proper documentation and investigation of the incident are performed.
1. Be prepared. Practice by holding a fire drill in your building at least once a year.
2. Know where the fire alarm pull stations are and how to activate them.
3. Know your evacuation routes and keep them clear at all times.
4. Know where your emergency telephones are to contact Public Safety.
5. Know where the closest fire extinguishers are and how to use them.
6. Never use the elevator to evacuate.
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If fire or smoke is detected:
1. Activate the building alarm system.
2. Evacuate the building moving a distance of at least 200 feet from the building. Check your building evacuation plan to determine your gathering point. When outside notify public safety by using a blue light phone or cell phone giving as much information as possible. Persons knowing the reason for the fire should go to the command post established by Public Safety to provide this information.
3. If there is no alarm system, notify others as you leave the building by shouting “fire” and knocking on doors.
4. If possible, close doors and windows as you leave to prevent the fire’s spread.
5. If there is smoke in the area, get down on the floor and crawl out of the building.
6. Feel all doors before opening them. If a door is hot, don’t open it. Move to a second exit, or if one is not available, stay there and try to open a window for fresh air.
7. Open doors slowly. If you encounter smoke, close the door quickly and stay in the room. Call 911 and give your location. Try to do something to help identify your location from the outside of the building.
8. Never try to fight a fire alone unless it is required to exit the building.
Your response in a shooting
Please note that such incidents are highly unpredictable and your response will depend on the exact circumstances. Your first priority is to have an "out" strategy. If you can do so safely, leave the building or area immediately, via door, window or emergency exit. Move away from the immediate path of danger, and take the following steps:
1. Notify anyone you may encounter that they should leave the building or area immediately.
2. Get to a safe area away from the danger, and take protective cover. Stay there until assistance arrives.
3. Call 911, providing dispatchers your name, the location of the incident (be as specific as possible), the number of shooters (if known), identification or description of the shooter or shooters, the number of persons who may be involved, your exact location, and information about wounds and injuries to anyone, if known.
4. If you are not immediately affected by the situation, take protective cover, staying away from windows and doors until notified otherwise.
If you are directly involved in an incident and cannot leave the building:
1. Go to the nearest room or office, close and lock the door, turn off the lights and seek protective cover. If possible barricade the door. Students should scatter when in the same room, rather than huddle in a corner, which can provide an easy target for a shooter.
2. Keep quiet, act as if no one is in the room, and do not answer the door.
3. If possible, pull the fire alarm to alert authorities to an emergency situation.
4. If you have a cell phone at hand and if it is safe to do so, notify 911, providing dispatchers with as much pertinent information as possible.
5.Wait for University Police and other police officials to assist you out of the building.
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1. Take all calls seriously and report them to Public Safety at 911 immediately.
2. Notify your supervisor or the person responsible for the building.
3. Try to obtain as much information from the caller as possible, such as location of the bomb; detonation time; reason for threat; information about the caller, age, affiliation with any organization, etc.
4. Do not try to locate the bomb and never touch suspicious objects.
5. Do not use portable radios in the facility where the bomb is located.
1. Cooperate, giving the person exactly what they are asking for, nothing more.
2. Try to notice distinguishing traits: clothing, race, height, weight, age, eye color, facial hair, or other identifying features such as scars, moles, etc.
3. Pay attention to the type of weapon used, if applicable.
4. Listen carefully to their voice for distinguishing characteristics.
5. Record what direction they go after the confrontation. If they use a vehicle, record the license plate number and make and model of the vehicle.
6. Call Public Safety at 911 immediately following the confrontation.
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Motor vehicle accidents
1. Report all accidents involving University vehicles immediately to Public Safety at 911 and to Transportation Services at 831-1187 regardless of the amount of damage.
2. Collisions that occur after hours are reported to Transportation Services on the next business day.
3. If you collide with a parked vehicle, stop immediately and attempt to locate the owner after notifying Public Safety while on campus. If the collision occurs on the street, notify Newark Police Department.
1. The Vice President for Administration in consultation with the President decides when to cancel class and dismiss employees from work due to extreme weather. Unit managers are not authorized to make this decision unilaterally.
2. In general, the University will remain open unless the conditions are very severe. However, if an employee believes they are placed in an unnecessary risk by staying at work or coming to work during severe weather they are permitted to take annual leave or leave without pay, whichever is appropriate.
3. Listen to local radio stations for notifications regarding cancellation of campus activities. Other options include checking the University's home page [www.udel.edu] or calling 831-2000.
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When a building loses power, it is no longer considered a controlled environment. Normally emergency power is supplied to buildings to provide for safe evacuation and not for continued occupancy. Except in situations where leaving the building would be more hazardous, take the following steps:
1. Evacuate laboratory buildings immediately since most fume hoods will not operate when building power ceases.
2. Persons in non-laboratory buildings may occupy for periods up to one hour provided they have a sustainable source of emergency lighting or natural lighting to allow for continued occupancy and safe evacuation. Battery powered emergency lighting generally lasts only 90 minutes.
3. Report the outage to Facilities by calling 831-1141.
More information regarding power outages procedures is found at [www.udel.edu/OHS/powerout.html].
Fumes, vapors or gas leaks
1. If an odor of gas, toxic or noxious material is detected in your work area, leave the area immediately and call Public Safety at 911.
2. If the hazard is thought to place all occupants at risk, i.e. natural gas, pull the building fire alarm to evacuate the building.
3. Do not re-enter the building until it is determined safe by the emergency responders.
Reporting unsafe conditions
The University is committed to maintaining a safe campus environment. To this end, everyone in the campus community is urged to help by reporting conditions that may pose a serious risk of injury or property damage. Do not assume that someone else will report observed concerns. Report them to one of the following departments:
Facilities Management 831-1141
Public Safety 831-2222
Hazardous material spills
1. Report the spill or other incident involving these hazards to Public Safety immediately at 911.
2. Leave the area taking precautions to contain the spill without putting yourself at additional risk if possible and if you know how.
3. Secure the area to prevent others from entering.
4. Remain in a safe area until emergency responders arrive and release you from the scene. Provide all information requested by emergency responders including MSDSs if available. Notify department personnel as appropriate.
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How can UD Alert help you? UD Alert is the text, voice and email emergency messaging tool that the University will use to notify you of an emergency. Sign up today through UDSIS or Employee Demographic Data webform.
Your engine arrives at what appears to be a single-family dwelling with smoke and fire evident from the second-floor window on side A. You and your crew advance a hoseline and the arriving truck company conducts a search of the building. As more units arrive, additional duties are assigned, and within 15 minutes the fire is declared under control. During overhaul, it is determined that this seemingly mundane single-family dwelling has been divided into four separate apartments. Once final extinguishment is completed, units take up and return to their quarters to ready tools and equipment for the next one. As the officer of the first unit, you must complete the report and write a narrative memorializing the actions of the company.
Fast forward six months, and you receive a call from the law office of your jurisdiction advising you that there has been a lawsuit filed regarding the illegal modification of the building and complaints from residents about the damage done to their living area and possessions. The law office has your report and sets up a meeting to discuss what happened during the incident. Does your report accurately reflect what happened during the incident, and is there sufficient detail in the report to allow you to recall the details of that day? For many, the answer would be no.
Report writing is one of the dreaded duties that all firefighters and officers must deal with on a daily basis. As much as we dislike the duty, we must make sure to write factual, defensible, and accurate reports that clearly describe our actions and provide sufficient detail to stimulate our memory months or even years later. The F.I.R.E.S. method of writing will assist you in capturing the incident in a narrative form that meets all of these requirements.
F = First observation/Findings: From the time the alert is sounded, data begins to be gathered and evaluated. What information was given at dispatch? What were the weather conditions? Were you given any additional information, such as people trapped or multiple calls, en route to the scene? Once on scene, what was your brief initial report? Did you take or pass command? What other observations did you make about the initial views of the scene? This sets the foundation of the report and helps you recall some of the details that might have seemed insignificant at the time but later turn out to be valuable. For example, all of us are ingrained to look for cars in the driveway indicating that there may be someone home; however, noting the number of vehicles in the driveway on your arrival may be an important fact when questions about the number of people home at the time of the fire are raised at a later date.
I = Investigation/Initial actions: Although not every incident is a working fire, such determination can only be made after the first-arriving company completes an investigation. Whether it is a 360-degree walk around of the building or looking in the windows during an automatic fire alarm response, a determination of what is happening must be conducted. I know of a recent incident where a door was forced in a commercial multiple occupancy retail establishment during a fire alarm sounding response. Significant damage was done to the door and a complaint was lodged with the local jurisdiction. By the time the investigation of the complaint made it down to the company level, several weeks had passed. The narrative of the report contained no information about the reasons used to make the decision to force entry into the store. The days of saying, "We forced entry because the alarm was sounding," are dwindling rapidly. Fire officers must be able to articulate their reasoning behind a decision or face enhanced scrutiny from their superiors.
This is also the area where initial actions are noted. What assignments were given to responding units? Did crews need to force entry to investigate or mitigate the emergency? On working incidents, what size attack line was used? What was the status of the need for rescue or any injuries to occupants that required immediate care? These questions begin to hit the details that we need to capture in our report. A quick Internet search reveals multiple fire departments that have been involved in litigation because a homeowner asserted that the first-arriving unit failed in some aspect to control the situation. Accurately detailing initial actions will go a long way toward defending your work when being questioned two years later about what size hose was initially used.
R = Response to Actions: This portion of the narrative becomes the meat and potatoes of exactly what you did throughout the incident. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, and such circumstances need to be documented. Did you make a rescue or lead occupants to safety? Was suppression of the fire achieved with the handline that you selected? What happened to the smoke conditions once ventilation was established? These are just a sampling of the questions that the narrative should answer.
If questions arise at a later time, the details of your actions may be the only trigger to get accurate information about the incident. Don't ever underestimate when this inquiry into the incident may happen. I handled an incident at the beginning of 2014 that required a review of reports from eight years earlier. When I approached the providers and asked them for details about the prior incidents, the most common answer was, "I don't remember." The reports written during these incidents consisted of single paragraphs with the units that responded and the number of personnel. To say they were lacking details would be an understatement.
E = Evaluation: An evaluation of the incident scene and the final outcome is your next step. Exposure building information should be included here. Exposures become equally important to the overall scene. A fire in a garden-style apartment easily results in two, five, or 10 additional exposures that drive the dollar loss substantially higher. We must capture the basic information for this damage. Simply including address, occupants, owner, and a brief description of the damage is sufficient.
External factors also have an impact on the final outcome. Did you encounter a hydrant that failed to function (severe weather or damage)? Were there parking or access issues, crowd control, hydrants across six lanes of busy traffic? The list goes on. Noting these external items that affected the mitigation of the incident not only describes the incident but creates a historical reference for issues encountered that require code or legislative changes. When your legislative body is being told by a construction lobbyist, "It was an anomaly," your response of, "I remember it happening more than once," carries substantially greater weight with written documentation.
S = Special Statements: Last but certainly not least is the section on special statements. At some point, the incident will end. What did we do prior to leaving? Who did we turn the scene over to? Was it the police, the homeowner, or fire investigation? Someone accepted the responsibility, and here is where we make note of it. This is also a good place to list any issues, good or bad, that didn't directly have an outcome on mitigation at the scene but still played into the overall incident. Keep in mind that the perception of the public may be slightly different from the actual actions that the responders have taken. A simple statement that services of the American Red Cross were offered to all displaced residents validates your actions when the media runs the story from a local citizen claiming the fire department "abandoned" them after the fire. It happens, and when it does happen, written documentation assists in keeping the positive public image intact.
In the Detail
The use of the F.I.R.E.S. system of report writing undoubtedly adds work to the fire officer's duties. This system is meant to put the necessary documentation in place for an inquiry about the incident at a later date. This report is not designed to be written as a post-incident analysis but rather a factual statement of what occurred on the incident scene. This is not the place to write about your opinions of what could have been done better. This system is for documenting the facts of the incident.
This report format can be in a paragraph form or written with a bulleted list of statements that cover the areas. Whichever method is employed, proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be used. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed to ask someone to proofread your writing.
Submitting a complete, correct, and accurate report shows professionalism and transparency while providing historical documentation of an incident. Many of us have heard the saying "Keep fire in your life" when it comes to being prepared for battle; keeping F.I.R.E.S. in your reports will keep you prepared after the battle has been won.
Robert Howarth is a 29-year veteran of emergency services and a captain and commander of the Fire/Explosives Investigation Unit with the Anne Arundel County (MD) Fire Department, where he has served for 24 years. He spent nine years assigned to the Special Operations Division and served as a rescue specialist with Maryland Task Force 1, a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team, and a rescue squad officer with Maryland Task Force 2, a state level asset. Howarth has instructed for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute since 1991 and is a nationally certified fire officer, instructor, fire investigator, and technical rescue specialist. Howarth is pursuing a bachelor's degree in fire and explosives investigation from Eastern Kentucky University.