Main building fire drill safely concluded

Last week, a simulated fire in the stairwell of the Main Building put CERN’s emergency response procedures to the test.


Firefighters descend the stairwell in the Main Building as the simulated fire rises.


At 2 p.m. on 22 September, alarms sounded around CERN’s Main Building as an evacuation exercise got underway. A simulated fire in the  stairwell, complete with very realistic smoke, led to the evacuation of one of the busiest places at CERN. The Main Building complex includes the Carlson Wagonlit travel agency, the post office, UBS, Uniqa, the Users Office, the Staff Association and the Novae restaurant as well as the Main Auditorium, the Council Chamber and the Charpak meeting room.

It was impressive to see how quickly the smoke propagated in the staircase as well as into the corridors, and equally impressive to see how smoothly, quickly and efficiently the evacuation proceeded. The exercise was the subject of meticulous planning, and was organised by the Departmental and Territorial Safety Officers (DSOs and TSOs) from DG and GS in collaboration with the Fire Brigade, Site Security, the Fire Detection Services and the HSE Unit.

“This exercise took a great deal of preparation,” said Gunnar Lindell, DSO for the DG Unit. “We identified and trained 22 emergency guides, as well as Novae staff. This proved essential in the rapidity of the evacuation and brought home the importance of this role. Due to the complexity of the buildings, we involved 26 observers from different departments who have given us very useful feedback.”

This was the first exercise of this scale to be conducted at CERN, and lessons learned will be deployed laboratory-wide. Among the evacuees was the Director General, who had the chance to see the operation first hand. “It was great to see how seriously everyone took the exercise,” he said, “and I’d like to thank all who took part.”

by CERN Bulletin