Smoke alarms play a valuable role in alerting a building’s occupants or visitors to fire threats, but they do nothing to put a stop to the fire itself. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that office building fires kill four civilians and injure 44 others each year and cause more than $112 million in property damage. Coming up with a well-devised plan for what to do in the event of a fire can help business owners protect their employees and investments and mitigate risk.
Fire Prevention Planning
Every business should have a formal fire prevention plan that outlines all potential fire hazards, including flammable liquids, combustible items, and equipment that produces heat, and lays out a plan for preventing a fire emergency. Employees should familiarize themselves with this document. They should also be aware of the location of the fire suppression systems seattle wa business owners provide to keep fires from spreading.
Fire Protection Equipment Installation
Every commercial building should be equipped with fire protection equipment. This should include portable fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire alarms, and visible fire safety signs. It’s best to have all fire protection equipment installed and maintained by a professional familiar with all the relevant building codes. Business owners should also have their fire extinguishers and other equipment professionally tested by a licensed and certified technician on a regular basis.
Employees should be familiar with the company’s fire protection plan and should receive routine training on how to use fire extinguishers. Both the NFPA and OSHA have regulations in place mandating annual training for employees across most industries, and it’s important that business owners adhere to these regulations. It’s not just a matter of compliance with the law. These regulations are designed to protect businesses, their employees, and their property.
Emergency Evacuation Planning
Employees should also receive instruction on how they should respond to fires and where they should go if the flames are substantial enough that a fire extinguisher won’t put them out. Effective evacuation plans determine what route employees should take when leaving the building and where they should meet up after they have evacuated. They also address any potential mobility issues. All employees should be aware of the evacuation plan and should take part in periodic fire drills to make sure they know where to go and what to do.
Fire Emergency Response Teams
It may be difficult to get employees organized and ensure that everyone is safe in a larger commercial or industrial space. That’s why some larger business owners enlist the help of volunteers to form fire emergency response teams. These volunteers receive extra training on how to implement the company’s fire emergency plan and ensure the safe evacuation of all employees. Should a fire break out, they’ll be able to assist with the evacuation.
The Bottom Line
Don’t just purchase a few fire extinguishers and assume that will be enough to protect the building and its occupants. Instead, take the time to come up with a detailed plan, purchase enough fire protection equipment, and make sure employees know how to use it. It’s the only way to protect not just the building’s occupants, but also its contents, in the event of a fire.