A fire drill is the practice evacuation of a building. These evacuations can be conducted by a family, business, or government organization and may be announced beforehand or conducted as a surprise. During the drill, evacuees calmly exit the building and reconvene in a designated safe area. It is common to determine how long it takes to evacuate everyone from the building so that those in charge can see whether the drill indicates that the building could have been safely evacuated in the event of a real fire. Many countries require mandatory fire drills in schools and other government buildings.
An alarm is often used to indicate the start of a fire drill. Those participating in the drill are asked to treat it as they would a real emergency by remaining calm and quickly leaving the building in the planned manner. Belongings are left behind and the doors are closed to help keep the fire contained.
There is usually a designated route for each room that people must use in order to reach the safe area. Using different designated routes helps streamline the evacuation to help ensure that everyone reaches safety as quickly as possible. People are told to walk to the evacuation site in order to prevent panic and confusion, which can lead to injuries or deaths in an actual emergency.
Once everyone has been accounted for at the safe area, the fire drill administrators will collect information, such as how long it took to conduct the drill and whether procedures were followed correctly. Sometimes, the fire department will be present during a fire drill so that the drill can be analyzed by professionals. Schools and other institutions often have minimum requirements they must meet in order to have successfully completed the fire drill. If the organization did not execute the drill correctly, it may need to be repeated.
In certain institutions, such as schools and nursing homes, laws prescribe the way in which a fire drill is conducted. These laws determine how often the drills must be held and whether everyone must participate. Certain people, such as bedridden patients in a nursing home, may be exempt. Laws do not govern fire drills conducted in private companies and homes.