Keeping your business safe is as important as growing it – even more. One of the things that can cause some serious damage to your business, as well as your property, is fire. Fires cause billions of dollars in damages worldwide, year in and year out. Unfortunately, damages aren’t the only issue. Every year thousands of people get injured or die because of fire. Some of those happen in the offices.
Now, you can’t predict when a fire is going to occur, but what you can do, is do all that’s in your power to prevent it from ever happening. That’s why we’re here today. We’ve decided to go out and consult with NFPA and other experts on the subject to bring you some helpful and possibly life-saving tips on how to prevent fires in the workplace.
1. Have All The Necessary Equipment
Every commercial office building must be equipped with standard fire safety equipment. Without it – it’s just too much of a risk. The first line of defence against unexpected fire is the automatic sprinkler system.
These are the best options in case a small problem emerges, as they are more than capable enough to put out the minor flames. Sprinklers should be regularly inspected to see if they’re working properly, because if they’re not and they have to come on – there are going to be some problems.
In addition to that, every office building should have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on every floor. According to X-sense, a smoke detector should be placed in every room. As far as extinguishers go, a few of them per floor should be more than enough. However, just equipping the office with extinguishers is not going to cut it. Every employee should know where they’re located and more importantly how to properly use them.
A fire prevention plan should include the basic training of the employees in case of an emergency. Also, emergency kits should be placed on each floor, as well. They should come equipped with bottled water, flashlights and most importantly masks. You see, most casualties don’t come from flames themselves, they come from smoke poisoning. For that reason alone, every emergency kit should come equipped with a number of masks.
2. Have A Safety Officer
Regardless of how big or small a business is – all of them should have safety officers. One person should be in charge of preparing everything in case a disaster struck. The plan should consist of escape routes and meeting points, as well as keeping track of all the equipment and its state. It’s a very responsible position and it should not be taken lightly.
3. Conduct A Fire Drill Annually
Practice is the best way to learn. Now, we’re not saying to start the fire and see how everyone reacts, no. What you can do is have an annual fire drill in which you’d practice and go through all the steps you or your employees should take in case of an emergency. That includes knowing the safety protocol, escape routes, meeting points and, of course, remaining calm and calling 911 as soon as the problem is identified.
4. Have An Evacuation Plan
Every business should have an escape route or an evacuation plan placed in several spots across the office. That way, employees are always reminded of which route they should take in case something happens. However, make sure never to include elevators in the evacuation plan – only the stairs. Elevators are never your friend in a time of crisis.
5. Clear The Staircase
Stairs will be your best friend in case something happens. However, if not properly maintained they could be the fire hazard themselves. Make sure there are no boxes or other kind of flammable materials stored in the stairwells.
Ideally, you want the stairwell to be empty. They should offer a clear path in case of an emergency and you also don’t want the fire to spread easily through the building, so keep the litter out of the stairway.
6. No Smoking Indoors
There have been too many fires started by cigarette butts for any business to allow smoking inside. The only area one should be allowed to smoke is outside, in a well-ventilated, open space. Also, it’s paramount to have ashtrays, preferably large ones, so that you don’t risk tipping them over. Also, the smoking area should be clear of any flammable material. If possible, reserve the roof for smoking.
7. Inspect Wiring Regularly
The most common culprit when it comes to fire is faulty electronics and installations. Making sure all things electrical, especially wiring, are in mint condition is arguably the best way to prevent fires. Faulty electronics don’t belong in an office space. You can’t eliminate human error, but you can prevent electronics from malfunctioning and catching on fire by keeping them in great conditions.
8. Leave Enough Room For Electronic Appliances
Devices like microwaves, coffee makers, blenders, toasters and the rest of the appliances in the cafeteria should have more than enough room to ‘breathe’. Don’t jam them all together or keep them too close to walls, because they need good airflow to prevent overheating and malfunctioning. The same thing applies to computers or other electronics. Don’t cover up the vents. Those things run hot and if you don’t allow them to cool – they’ll either burst into flames or they’ll cause wiring malfunction which will set the whole building on fire.
9. Doors Closed At All Times
Never leave the doors open or prop open the automatic doors. The reason behind this is to slow down the spread of fire, in case it happens. It might not seem like a lot, but a door can give you just enough time to leave the building before the fire can reach the other part of it. So, doors closed at all times!
10. Unplug Electronics At Night
Another great way to prevent electronics from malfunctioning and causing a fire is to unplug them from the outlet during the off hours. Shutting them down might seem like enough, but if they’re unplugged, you leave nothing to chance.
As you can see, there are a lot of things you can do to prevent fires in the workplace. The important thing is to know what you can do and how to act in case something does happen. Hopefully, we have managed to help you out with that.