An essential element of any fire safety plan is the emergency evacuation drill, commonly called a fire drill. Without making the effort to train and rehearse employees on their responsibilities and actions in case of fire or other emergency, the lives of many people – members, guests, and employees may be at risk.
The challenge for golf and country clubs is that the facility use patterns are very different for different parts of the club and for different times of the day and week. The evacuation issues at the golf course maintenance facility or aquatics center are far different than the clubhouse; and a clubhouse evacuation on a Tuesday morning will have far different concerns than a busy Saturday night.
Add to this is the disruption of member service and enjoyment of their club by scheduling frequent evacuation drills or holding such drills when members are dining and guests are attending a large and expensive wedding. Clearly, evacuation drills must be held, but they must be carefully planned and executed to provide full safety value with the minimum disruption to member and guest activities. So what strategies would meet both requirements? Here are some thoughts:
- Hold quarterly departmental evacuations drills for remote (non-clubhouse) facilities and activities such as aquatics, racquet center, golf course maintenance, and cart barn. These will be scheduled by the department head in coordination with the club Safety Director or General Manager. The time of the drill should be chosen based on greatest rehearsal impact for the largest number of employees with the least disruption to member service.
Schedule two types of quarterly clubhouse evacuation drills:
- Daytime – schedules drills for two quarters of the year will be for a weekday timeframe when all operating and administrative departments are functioning – again with the least disruption to members.
- Evening – the remaining two quarterly drills should be scheduled for an evening period. Clearly a nighttime drill will impact members, but this impact on member service and enjoyment of their club can be lessened by various strategies such as a Board approved and supported weeknight “Fire Drill Night” when members are alerted in advance to the evening’s drill and the drill is scheduled for a particular time. Meal service on this “special activity” night would be a reduced price buffet scheduled to start just after the drill is completed. Members would be asked to arrive early for a brief open bar and complimentary hors d’oeuvres while seated in the dining room. After participating in the drill, members would return to their seats for the specialty buffet. The selected date should be one without scheduled catered functions.
The other means of training and testing employees in various departments of their responsibilities and actions during an emergency evacuation would be departmental Emergency Evacuation Simulations. These routine periodic simulations would consist of a variety of cards describing simulated emergencies for each area of the operation and asking employees what their actions would be when handed the card.
Simulation cards would be readily identifiable by design and color. Each card would:
- Describe an emergency scenario.
- Require the employee to describe his or her actions, including:
- Notification of the emergency.
- Location of emergency exits.
- Primary and alternate evacuation routes.
- Steps to evacuate members, guests, and other employees.
- Location of exterior assembly area.
Require the employee to list:
- Appropriate life safety actions in the presence of fire, heat, and smoke.
- Steps to fight or slow the spread of the fire.
- Require the employee to:
- Point out the location of fire pull stations.
- Point out the location of fire extinguishers.
- Explain the types of fire extinguishers and their respective uses.
- Simulate the use of a fire extinguisher, while describing the necessary operating procedures and techniques.
The supervisor presenting the simulation card would grade the employee responses and point out any incorrect actions or answers. The whole exercise should take no more than ten minutes and can be executed without disturbing normal service routines.
The combination of quarterly evacuation drills and routinely administered simulation exercises will increase the fire safety awareness of club staff and provide valuable information and experience in emergency evacuation procedures.
Ed Rehkopf, Senior Vice President, Club Resources International. Club Resources International is a portal website for the club industry providing a wide array of operational resources, articles, and best practices for the club industry. The website can be found at www.myclubresource.com .