Fire Safety Tips for Your Business
October 14, 2017
As a business owner, your company is very near and dear to your heart, as are the hardworking people you employ. It stands to reason that fire safety and fire prevention are top priorities. For all who are responsible for workplace safety, follow us as fire safety month continues into your place of business!
1. Prevent Workplace Fires
The first step to fire safety for your business is to prevent fires from happening. While it may not always be in your control, there are a few things that can be done around the workplace to help ward off flammable danger:
- Avoid overloading electrical outlets and use the correct prongs to plug (three-prong plugs in three-prong outlets, etc.)
- Repair or replace damaged outlets, cords, cables, etc.
- Keep combustible items such as trash and recycling away from electrical equipment
- Keep your workspace and equipment dry, clean, and well ventilated – lookout for oil and dust specifically
- Ensure all electrical equipment is Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed (or listed by another nationally recognized lab)
- If you allow space heaters, keep them away from anything flammable and ensure they have a thermostat control mechanism
- Keep your portable generators outside – never bring them inside
- Place fire extinguishers in kitchenettes and cafeterias (and other at-risk areas), and be sure everyone knows how to use them.
Electric fires are the third leading cause of fires in the United States according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Visit Electrical Safety Foundation International’s (ESFI) website for electrical safety tips in the workplace (and at home).
2. Build Awareness, Establish a Workplace Protocol & Practice It
Utilize the month of October to get employees and staff talking – and thinking – about fire safety but continue that practice throughout the year. If it’s out of sight, it might also be out of mind so you want to keep the conversation going with some regularity!
In our previous blogs, we established that fire is fast, hot, dark, and deadly, which means act fast, stay low and get out if possible. But don’t assume that your employees know to stop-drop-and-roll, avoid the elevator or call 9-1-1 (oftentimes, people either panic or assume someone else is handling it and won’t take action).
Instead, type up a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as you would with any other workplace policy, complete with emergency contacts, company contact information, and your floor plan. Be sure each employee has their own personal copy and that laminated, communal copies are placed throughout the building. It should include an established meeting point for those who escape the fire so that a headcount can be easily conducted.
Preparedness and practice are key in the event of an emergency so, in addition to hanging SOP posters, consider sending periodic emails and having regular meetings on fire safety and exit strategies. And always practice your escape plans and exit routes.
PRO TIP: Now is probably a good time to review your business security checklist items, too.
3. Fire Alarm Variables
Smoke detectors are not optional, but what type, where they are placed, and whether they are monitored are all variables left up to the business owner. Take the following points into consideration when making this important decision:
- Professional installation will ensure proper installation per the manufacturer’s instructions and your building code (also helpful should the warranty need to be used)
- Install combo sensor smoke alarms that sense both smoke and carbon monoxide
- 24/7 smoke alarm monitoring is imperative so that someone is always standing by to dispatch emergency personnel
- Integration of your fire and burglar alarm systems
Visit our Monitored Fire Alarms Vs. Unmonitored Smoke and CO Detectors blog for more information on monitoring!
Pro Tip: Don’t be fooled by dual sensor smoke detectors, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors. Ionization smoke detectors have been largely discontinued due to false alarm issues and are hard to find these days. Per Mar offers the most up-to-date photoelectric sensors in all of our smoke detectors.
4. What To Do If Trapped in the Building & How to Get Out
Knowledge is power when trying to escape a fire and prevent injury. Below are some tips for navigating your way through the building should you find yourself in this unwanted situation.
- Since smoke and toxic gasses rise, you want to stay low.
- If you or your clothing catch fire, stop, drop, and roll. If that isn’t an option, try smothering the flames with a blanket or towel.
- As you work to exit your office, always feel the doorknob before opening any doors; if hot, leave it closed and find your secondary exit.
- Open all doors slowly and shut them quickly if there is smoke or fire.
If you get out, alert firefighters to anyone else still in the building. Gather at the established meeting point practiced in the SOP.
If you are unable to escape, think prevention. You want to prevent as much smoke and fire from entering your area as possible. Close all doors, cover any spaces or cracks with towels or tap, close all vents.
PRO TIP: If you are trapped on the second story or higher, find a window and indicate where you are located with something brightly colored, a flashlight, or anything that will stand out to the rescuers and people below.
5. Replace and Test Batteries
Twice per year during daylight saving time is a great opportunity to replace the batteries in your building’s smoke (and CO) detectors. We also recommend testing them for good measure while you’re there. It is fast approaching on Sunday, November 7th, so designate someone in the office to ensure that this simple but important task is never forgotten!
PRO TIP: Newer smoke alarms have a 10-year life, which means they need replacing much less often than older versions. In some states, including Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan, 10-year smoke alarms are required. Now is a good time to ensure your safety with new technology. Contact us for more information.
If your office doesn’t have the resources to keep fire safety top of mind, contact us for assistance. And, be sure to check out next week’s blog on choosing a fire extinguisher!