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"Too many went straight through the smoke"

Published Oct 18, 2023

Stairwells and corridors are filled with smoke from smoke machines, and a few seconds later, the fire alarm sounds at Teknikringen 33. It is a fire protection exercise and now it will be tested whether the procedures in place really work.

When the alarm goes off, there is a flurry of activity inside the premises, with some people putting on their orange vests and ensuring the evacuation goes smoothly. One by one, they leave the premises towards the collection point nearby, but many walk straight through the smoke. We'll come back to how many soon.

At the assembly point, people gather in groups and begin to mark in a binder who has left and who might still be in the building. Some who have taken out the binder to check off are the staff from Novatron company.

Gathering outside Teknikringen after the safety drill.

"It was perfect that there was smoke in the stairwell so that people were aware that they must not go out that way. We also clearly notice now which routines we need to work on, so it's useful to see that," says Jan Jäderberg, CTO at Novatron.

When it has been checked that everyone has come out as they should and that no one is left in the room, a reconciliation is held with those who have taken on the role of evacuation leader and some students who participated in the exercise. The evacuation of the room went quickly. It only took 1 minute and 47 seconds before everyone was out. Other things have been less promising. 

"One person remained in the room after the alarm had gone off, but otherwise, there was a good turnout," says Elias Larsson, team leader in security, Securitas.

"None of them would have survived if it had been real"

"60 people walked straight through the smoke. None of them would have survived if it had been real," says Evelina Esphagen of Securitas Fire & Rescue.

The smoke clearly shows that the fire drill is necessary, and Infrastructure at EECS sees a great need to hold regular fire drills.

"We see a pent-up need for systematic fire protection work. It exists at the schools but not centrally at KTH," says Patrik Janus, EECS's chief safety officer.

"It is important that everyone who works at KTH is aware of the existing routines and that we also see what is not working so that we can continue the work to get clear and good routines," says Viktor Appelgren, caretaker.

Important to keep in mind

  • Know your workplace before something happens. Which emergency exit is closest and safest?
  • Close doors if there is a fire and make sure no one is left in the space.
  • Go to the nearest assembly point. If a colleague does not know, show them where to go.
  • Ensure that information is also provided in English.
  • Have a procedure for recognising if someone goes to a restroom or basement.
  • Remember that the ATP is a good opportunity to raise questions about safety and fire protection.
  • Always dial 112 (emergency number). Also important if someone cant leave the premises and gets stuck. 

Emelie Smedslund