Fire and evacuation drills make the CERN safety plans work

Regular drills are a way of making sure that we are ready and able to react in the event of a fire or other adverse event. They are also a demanding test of all the technical and organisational measures in place to allow the quick and safe evacuation of buildings. Recently, large-scale drills took place in Building 40 and at Point 5 underground.


Group photo at Point 5, after the common evacuation drill.

The ability to react to unexpected, adverse events relies in particular on training. This is why CERN’s safety teams organise regular drills. One of the most recent exercises took place on 26 March in Building 40. “Building 40 is a modern building fully equipped against fire, with two emergency exits in the central atrium. We also have 29 emergency guides distributed on each floor to guide people out of their offices,” says Kate Richardson, Territorial Safety Officer of the building. “The drills are very useful for testing the building's installations such as sirens, fire doors, smoke extraction devices, evacuation signs, etc.”

The fire and emergency drills are particularly important for underground installations. This is why the CMS Safety team, in collaboration with the CMS Technical Coordination team, the LHC Coordination team and the LS1 management ran, for the first time in the LHC's history, a joint evacuation drill at P5 on Friday, 26 April involving the LHC machine and one LHC experiment. The organisers brought in more than 200 volunteers to take part in the exercise.

Most of the CERN departments were represented, in particular the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS), the HSE Unit, the Access, Safety and Engineering Tools group, the Handling Engineering group, the Machines Experimental Facilities group, the Communication group, the Beams department and, of course, most of the groups from the PH department. “We managed to fill up the two underground CMS caverns, and neighbouring parts of the LHC tunnel were also occupied," says Niels Dupont, deputy GLIMOS for CMS and person in charge of the organisation of the drills.  

When the sirens were triggered, two groups of “visitors” accompanied by CMS guides were in the experimental cavern. In addition, a simulated victim with a broken leg was located on the ground floor of the cavern. These realistic scenarios were a unique opportunity for the CMS collaborators and the CERN FRS to test their collaboration. Niels Dupont was very relieved: "Everything went very well during the drill; it was a great success. We are now really looking forward to organising the next drills, including more challenging scenarios.”

by Antonella Del Rosso