Every day many of us wake up, travel to work and spend most of our time focused on our daily work routine. But every so often the unexpected happens. Nobody expects an emergency or disaster, especially one that personally affects them, their employees, and their business.
Yet the simple truth is that emergencies and disasters can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. You and your employees may have to deal with a sudden emergency or even evacuate your company when you least expect it.
The best way to deal with unexpected fires in the workplace is to know the ways to prevent fires from starting in the first place. Easier said than done you may think, but there are simple steps we can take on how to prevent fires from happening.
1. Preventing Fires Through Good Housekeeping Practices
Good housekeeping is one of the best ways to prevent fires as good housekeeping is good fire prevention. There should be a place for everything and everything should be in its place. Empty dustbins regularly and avoid any unnecessary build-up of clutter. Flammable liquids and Hazardous Materials should be stored properly, and these containers should be clearly marked. Check your waste collection area regularly for a build-up of waste.
2. Early Warning Devices in Fire Prevention
Early warning devices are worth the cost and effort, as fires need to be discovered very early if we want to have any success in extinguishing them ourselves. Smoke and heat detectors have proven their effectiveness over and over. They are not expensive and you can install them yourself. A sprinkler system, although a lot more costly, will contain and can even extinguish a fire inside a building before we are even aware that there is a fire.
3. Equipping Your Workplace with Effective Firefighting Equipment
Fire Firefighting equipment should be installed and available at strategic locations in our workplaces. Fire Extinguishers are portable devices that can be very effective if used correctly and if the fire is discovered early enough.
Fire Hose Reels are also installed in many businesses, and they are even more effective as they have unlimited water, unlike Fire Extinguishers that only have a certain amount of product in them. The water will also cool the fire, preventing the fire from flaring up again.
Keep in mind that all firefighting equipment needs to be serviced annually by a competent company and fire wardens need to check the firefighting equipment on a monthly basis. There are many different types of fire extinguishers available and care should be taken to choose the correct ones for your business.
4. Importance of Firefighter Training in Workplace Safety
Training is crucial for a proper and functional health and safety system, especially as far as firefighting is concerned. Every workplace needs well-trained firefighters as firefighting is a high-risk activity and your firefighting equipment has limitations that we need to be aware of.
Fires spread incredibly fast and produce smoke and gases. Most people that die in fires do so because of the smoke and gases and not so much because of the heat and flames.
A properly trained firefighter or firefighters will be ready and confident to deal with fires should they happen and should be able to decide very quickly whether the fire is small enough to fight or whether it will be a better idea to try and slow the fire down and evacuate the building with the rest of the staff.
5. Evacuation Drills and Plans in Fire Safety
Evacuation drills and evacuation plans are a very important part of fire safety. Should it happen that there is a fire in the workplace and we need to evacuate, everyone needs to know what to do, where to go and how to do it.
Evacuation diagrams will show us where to find the firefighting equipment, first aid boxes etc. and how to exit the building in the fastest and safest way possible. There should be an emergency assembly point outside at a safe distance from the building where staff go during the emergency. Roll call must be taken at the assembly point and staff must wait there for further instructions.
Regular evacuation drills should be done to ensure all staff know what to do during an emergency and to see if our evacuation plans are working. Remember it is a legal requirement that we have evacuation drills and be able to prove that we have done them.
One of the main fire prevention tips is that we should have a well-trained health and safety emergency team in our workplace that can take action as soon as an emergency occurs. We should also have all the emergency equipment available that we may need in an emergency like fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and stair chairs in high-rise buildings. Staff should do regular evacuation drills and we should implement good housekeeping rules. Better to be safe than sorry.