On Medical Office Fire Drills and Training

Office Fire Drills

By Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA

Fire Drills should be performed at least annually and documented.

When first opening an office or when a new employee is brought onboard, staff need to be trained on the use of a fire extinguisher, location of the nearest fire extinguisher and location of alarm pull station (if any) on the first day. Training should be documented and placed in the employee file.

Generally speaking, a fire extinguisher is required every 75 feet in office space and be the appropriate type for the nature of business and equipment in use. Most offices use a multi-purpose ABC extinguisher that can be used on most types of fires.

The types of fires are listed below:

  • Class A fires are for ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics.
  • Class B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids (gasoline, kerosene, oil, and grease).
  • Class C fires are those caused by electrical equipment (wiring, appliances, and outlets).
  • Class D fires are chemical fires that involve combustible metals i.e. potassium, sodium, and magnesium.


Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extinguishers can be used for class B and C fires. These extinguishers are highly pressurized and are best suited for electrical or computer equipment. They have an advantage over dry chemical extinguishers for this use since they do not leave damaging residue. However, they are not effective for Class A fires.

It is important to know which type of extinguisher is best for the office and equipment since using the wrong type can be critical in an emergency.




At a minimum, a physician office should have a safety program that addresses the following in the event of an emergency:

  1. Written Program
  2. Emergency Notification Procedures
  3. Warning and Evacuations Process
  4. Evacuation Procedures
  5. Facility/Department Evaluation or site review
  6. Means of egress clearly marked (map posted with exit route and nearest exit)
  7. Emergency Action Plan
  8. Fire Prevention Plan
  9. Fire extinguisher location(s), types and use (P.A.S.S. Pull, Aim, Spray & Sweep)

If you are in an area susceptible to weather emergencies such as tornadoes, the emergency plan should address these as well.

Assessment: Your thoughts are appreciated


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