Staged evacuation vs defend in place: which is right for your facility?

Since grade school, we have all been taught to evacuate a building in a timely fashion during a fire drill, or in the case of a real fire. Many of us have continued this practice in the buildings we work in today, and will continue throughout our lives. However, if evacuation is not an option, how do we protect those that must stay inside? There are two strategies that are used to help protect the occupants of a building: Staged evacuation and defend in place.

Staged Evacuation
A staged evacuation is the practice of only evacuating the floors that are directly or immediately affected by the incident. This practice is often used in high-rise buildings, to provide quick evacuation to those that are in the immediate line of fire, while also protecting those that are still in the building, but not as close to the issue. If the situation escalates, a full evacuation will usually take place to vacate the rest of the occupants.


Defend In Place
Defend in place is a strategy that is used mainly in healthcare for those occupants that are physically unable to leave the facility. Many of these occupants are connected to life-supporting equipment, and could be in even more danger if they are moved or removed from the facility. This strategy allows healthcare staff to keep these patients in the facility, while also continue receiving any necessary treatment.

Life Safety Systems Maintenance
In order for either of these strategies to be effective and safe, the passive fire and life safety systems in in the facility must be functioning flawlessly to ensure the protected occupants are safe. With proper maintenance, these systems effectively compartmentalize a building in order to limit the fire and smoke to one compartment of the building and leave evacuation routes and other compartments free of smoke and flame. However, when these systems are not properly maintained, smoke is able to travel throughout the building and these safe areas can be compromised, putting lives in danger.

For proper compartmentation, these fire and life safety systems must be code-compliant. Fire doors must be inspected annually. Fire, smoke, and combination fire/smoke dampers must be inspected every 4 years, except in hospitals where they only need to be inspected every 6 years. Code also requires that any penetrations in fire barriers must be firestopped per proper UL specifications without delay. All of these passive fire protection systems will prevent the spread of smoke throughout compartments in your facility and keep your occupants safe while they remain in place during an emergency.

If you need help keeping your life safety systems compliant and maintained, PREVENT Life Safety can help. Our expert technicians are trained and certified in maintaining these systems and consistently go above and beyond to provide you with thorough and accurate inspections and repairs. Call your local account manager, call us at 877-392-6074, or contact us for more information or to get a quote.

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