Florida Fire Drills: What you need to know

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which govern Florida's occupational safety and health system, requires that companies with 10 or more employees have written fire prevention and emergency exit plans for each workplace. Employers with fewer than 10 employees may communicate the plans orally. To ensure that the exit plan will work in an actual emergency, it is advisable to rehearse regularly with annual or semiannual drills.
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Florida has no specific law or regulation requiring all employers to conduct fire drills.
However, the state does require annual fire exit drills in Category I buildings, defined as buildings:
• Where persons receive educational instruction;
• Where people reside, excluding private residences;
• With three or more floor levels; or
• Containing explosive, combustible, or highly flammable materials that pose a danger to life and property.
All occupants of the building should participate in the drill, and all emergency alarms should be sounded. The goal of the drills is to prepare occupants for exiting the building during fires or related emergencies and identify building-related problems that could impede evacuation (FL Stat. Sec. 633).
State resources. The office of the state fire marshal has information on fire prevention and compliance with the state fire code at http://www.fldfs.com/sfm.
Local fire codes. Employers should also check local fire safety codes, which may contain additional requirements.
Employers should periodically remind employees of community disaster warning signals, such as sirens. Also, employers should not wait to allow employees to evacuate once warning signals have been sounded.
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