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Explain the importance of maintaining clear evacuation routes at all times

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

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Fire can spread very quickly, so it is important that when a fire breaks out that people can evacuate the building as quickly as possible.

If the route out of the building is blocked or even just partially blocked, it can prolong evacuation times as people may need to move things out of the way or avoid objects. It may also lead to accidents such as trips and falls as people try to leave the building. In addition, obstructions such as clutter could be flammable and provide the fire with a further fuel source.

Therefore, it is essential that all fire doors and evacuation routes are kept free from obstruction and clutter, especially in corridors. Be aware that fire escape routes do not have to be corridors. Lounges and kitchens may be part of the route out of the building so these rooms should also be clear of obstructions. Routes should be checked regularly to ensure they are clear and staff should be made aware that good housekeeping is everyone’s responsibility and encouraged to keep their belongings with them or in an agreed area. Regular audits and signage can also help with this.

If you observe a blocked fire exit or obstructed fire route, you should inform your manager as soon as possible.

It is also worth remembering that checks and audits should be performed with each individual’s Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) in mind. For example, a wheelchair-user may require more space (width) to exit a building than someone who is walking.