Progressive Horizontal Evacuation

Progressive Horiaontal Evacuation


What is a progressive horizontal evacuation?

Progressive Horizontal Evacuation is the term used to describe the process of moving people away from danger and to safety through a fire-resistant barrier on the same floor. This is a necessary part of any fire evacuation strategy plan that involves, for example, patients in a ward on a hospital, elderly residents in a care home with limited mobility or for any people that would be dependent on staff to assist their escape.

How to create an Evacuation Plan using a progressive horizontal evacuation.

An Evacuation plan doesn’t need to be a logistical nightmare. With plenty of fore-thought and planning a progressive horizontal evacuation process can be created to allow staff the time to safetly evacuate patients to adjoining areas of the building. 

The area of safety is known as a refuge and will offer protection for a minimum of 30 minutes. In many cases of fire, this time is sufficient for the Fire Service to attend and the fire to be extinguished. [source]

Your evacuation plan should consider and include all the actionable points below:

  • What to do in the event of a fire – staff and your local fire wardens/marshals need to be made aware of what actions they should take if they discover a fire.

  • How to raise the alarm – decide how you will alert people in the event of a fire, take time to consider those who are hard of hearing or deaf.

  • Where the Escape routes are – by using a clear explanation, clear signage, and visual representations where appropriate will instruct people on how to exit the building safely.

  • Where & how to use fire exit signs – Plenty of signage throughout the building showing where safe routes for evacuation are. They should be luminous where needed.

  • Emergency doors check – check that all doors that are on the escape route are easy to open, e.g., have a push bar (which should be accompanied by instructions on how to open it).

  • Do you have enough Fire-fighting equipment? – make sure there are plenty of fire extinguishers, of varying types where appropriate, around the workplace in easy-to-access locations.

  • Are the Fire alarm locations obvious? – People need to be aware of where the fire alarms are located so that in the event of a fire, the alarms can be raised immediately.

  • How will the fire brigade or other emergency services be contacted? – Decide who will be responsible for calling the fire service and know if the alarms are linked directly to the fire brigade?

  • Plan for a loss of power – evaluate the building and where appropriate, such as in windowless stairwells, make sure emergency lighting is installed in case the power should go down.

  • Are there any Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) in place? – PEEP’s are plans tailored to accommodate people with vulnerabilities that may affect their ability to evacuate safely.

  • Where is your allocated Assembly point? – you must inform everyone of where the assembly point is and instruct them to go only there in the event of a fire. A sign should indicate where it is.

  • What are your Procedures for roll call? – once everyone is at the assembly point, what systems do you have in place for determining who is present and who may still be in the building?

Implementing all of these evacuation arrangements will ensure that people either exit the building as quickly as possible, in an orderly fashion, and do so safely, or can understand and use the progressive horizontal evacuation when necessary.

How we can help

At Evocatus we help organisations to mitigate risk by supporting a range of activities, using exercises and rehearsals to make sure that we get each stage of the emergency Progressive Horizontal evacuation plan correct.

Step 1

First, we support the drafting and testing of emergency plans and procedures, identifying what responses and actions can be identified ahead of a fire and what approaches are required to manage the situation once it is in motion. We will assess the different possibilities for evacuation including: simultaneous evacuation, phased evacuation, progressive horizontal evacuation, zoned evacuation, two-staged evacuation, defend in place or stay put.

Step 2

The next step is about rehearsal; making sure that everyone who will use the plan understands it and can apply any process or procedures required to make the right decisions and to make sure that nothing gets missed when stress levels are running high. Time spent on this stage can not only polish and refine the plan, but when done right can makes teams more effective through practice.

Just like a military or sports team, running drills lets people get to know each other better and builds trust and confidence. A well-run rehearsal is also a more engaging and positive way to meet compliance requirements than any mediocre box-ticking exercise.