Workplace Fire Safety

Simply put, fire safety should be everyone’s responsibility at the workplace. Whether you are the first person through the door in the morning or the last one out at night.

Identifying those things that pose a threat vary greatly from space to space and workplace to workplace. However, there are some commonalities they share. Everyone should be conscious of the commonalities to help avoid the threat of a fire.

That’s why we’re here today. We are going to help train your eye to be wary of hazardous assets and elements.

Beware of smoking

We all know the health risks associated with smoking, but we should also be aware that it can pose a fire safety risk as well. Many workplaces have designated smoking areas and mark them with signs. When identifying this area, you should make sure it’s far enough away from the building, there isn’t anything potentially flammable around and there’s always a safe space to both extinguish and deposit the butt.

Heating & cooking equipment

You should always have an electrical inspection every year. A big part of that is to check on the things that create heat. Wherever there’s extremely high temperatures, there’s a chance for fire. We’re talking about things like heat lamps furnaces and boilers. But we’re also talking about things you might not be thinking about – things like stoves, hot pots, coffee pots, toasters and the like. Due to their frequency of use, it’s always good to make sure smaller appliances are unplugged before you go home at night – and the bigger appliances that are more essential are cared for and serviced & inspected regularly.

Outlets

If there is a single element where quality varies radically in commercial spaces, it’s the wiring. Some workplaces have complex, precise build outs that are safe and built to meet even the most rigorous demands. Others are literally slapped into walls, particle board is plopped over it and there you go. Again, get an inspection before you move into any space, but also check outlets and switches yourself. Electrical fires can spread in mere seconds and faulty wiring is almost always the culprit. Keep your ears peeled for buzzing sounds, that’s always bad. Occasionally place the back of your hand on switch covers and outlets to see if they’re warm. If they are, you might want to get them checked.

Technology

Computer equipment is fast becoming another fire safety issue, not because they’re inherently dangerous, there’s just more of them and they consume power at a greater clip with each generational iteration. Always check your server areas frequently as overheating and electrical issues can be common. Be sure they’re built out correctly and in a way that they can’t contain too much heat.

Like we said at the outset, fire safety needs to be everyone’s responsibility. Understanding the risks is half the challenge, but also being aware of casual, ongoing check-ins and their importance can go a long way towards creating a safer, less flame-friendly work environment.

Staying Safe in High Rise Buildings

While fires are always something to worry about in high-rise buildings, NFPA regulations are pretty strict and well-enforced. And you’d probably surprised to learn that the number of deaths per one thousand fires is actually lower in high rises than it is in smaller, more ‘normal’ sized structures.

The reasons for that are numerous and usually has to do with there simply being more fire protection equipment present – but even in spite of all that, it’s important to know what to do in the event of a fire at a high-rise, whether it’s a place of work or your place of residence.

We advise people to follow a simple acronym. It’s called CALM. Here’s how it works:

C – Call 911 and report the fire from a safe spot on your floor immediately.

A – Alert others on your floor in a calm manner. Ask them if they know the safety plan, what to do and how you can help each other.

L – Listen for important information from fire officials. For example, most buildings have public address systems. When firefighters give you instructions, follow them to the ‘t’. Sometimes the fire department may ask you to evacuate a specific way or may even ask you to remain in one place. Listen and act.

M – If you can, move in the direction the fire department tells you.

Now granted, not all of this is applicable in every situation – but it’ll help give you your own general guidepost about what to do in the event of a fire. The decision as to whether you’ll be evacuated or whether you can shelter in place will depend entirely on the makeup of the building, the fire event itself, the number of people present… lots of things.

If you are asked to evacuate

Then, you should always use the stairs to leave the building. NEVER use the elevator unless you are directed to by fire officials. Also never go up unless directed to. Smoke, fire and heat rise, and fires generally move up in high rises, not down. And finally, stay low. Again, smoke and fire rises, so the cooler, more breathable air will be below.

If they ask you to sit tight and shelter in place

Stuff towels (preferably wet towels in doors and vents to keep smoke out and then let the fire department know exactly where you’re at in the building. Open your window slightly and have a bright cloth or marker to signal to firefighters who may not be in the know where you are specifically.

Also, be careful with windows. Don’t break them because you can get cut. Don’t open them too much as they’ll attract flames and even be open to the idea of closing them if the smoke becomes too much.

Most importantly – stay calm and do whatever you can to communicate with the fire department. Getting you and others out of a building in a fire can take time. They will come and they will help you.

In the meantime, be sure you know where your fire exits are, have a working plan for escape and follow your employers or landlord’s fire safety plan. Until next time, stay safe!

For more information on this or any other fire protection topic, please contact Protegis Fire & Safety.