Do small businesses require fire training and fire suppression systems like fire extinguishers?
Yes, they absolutely need both.
Fire training and fire prevention systems are critical considering the number of people working in small businesses across the country today.
According to the Key Small Business Statistics 2021 report, published by the Department of Industry, there are approximately 1.2 million small businesses in Canada as of December 2020.
For easy reference, a small business is one defined as having 1 to 99 paid employees.
More than half of Canada’s small businesses are located in Quebec and Ontario (250,724 and 439,694 respectively). Over in British Columbia, there are 187,697 small businesses while Nova Scotia has 29, 561.
Collectively, small businesses employed more than 7.7 million people across the country totalling 67.7% of the private labor force. With these figures in mind, it doesn’t take a lot to see the necessity and importance of fire training and fire prevention plans.
In this post, we’re going to focus our attention on the need for fire suppression and controlling equipment, particularly fire extinguishers.
What is a Fire Extinguisher?
Fire Prevention Canada provides us with a comprehensive definition of what a fire extinguisher is. It is:
“…a storage container for an agent like water or chemicals designed to put out a small fire, not a large one. Extinguishers come labelled ABC or D.”
From this answer we can deduce certain things:
1. Fire extinguishers contain different fire suppression agents
2. Fire extinguishers are specifically for repressing small fires
3. Fire extinguishers are labelled to show which type of fire they quell
Now, here are some fire extinguisher tips for your small business. Let’s start with how to choose the correct fire extinguisher.
Are Fire Extinguishers All The Same?
We have already established that fire extinguishers are not all the same. There are different types of fire extinguishers based on their contents and the fire they are created to subdue.
When it comes to fire extinguisher tips, a good piece of advice is to purchase fire extinguishers based on what potential fire hazards are on-site and the type of fires you may need to put out.
To put out paper, wood, upholstery-related fires, you would need a Class A type fire extinguisher.
For fires caused by flammable and combustible liquids such as gasoline, fuel oil, paint, solvents, or grease, a Class B type fire extinguisher is appropriate.
Where fires are caused by electrical equipment, faulty wiring, overheating of fuse boxes or conductors, then you would need a Class C type fire extinguisher.
If your business stores, handles or manufactures metals, then you should have a Class D type fire extinguisher on hand.
Alternatively, you can always settle for a multi-purpose fire extinguisher labelled ABC. It contains dry chemicals that can put out a range of fires.
Now, here’s why you should invest in fire extinguishers for your small business.
5 Reasons Your Small Business Needs a Fire Extinguisher
Fire risk is real. The Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General tells us that between 2010 and 2019, there were approximately 13,297 work-place related fires. Here are five reasons fire extinguishers should be a part of your small business fire prevention plan.
Reason #1 To Be Compliant with Local Fire Codes
The very first reason, small businesses should have fire extinguishers is so they comply with the standards issued by the Ontario Fire Code and the Ontario Fire Department regarding Fire Protection, Life Safety Systems and Appliances.
Concerning portable fire extinguishers, the Fire Department states that:
“Portable extinguishers shall be maintained in a fully charged and operable condition and kept in their designated places at all times when they are not being used.”
Failure to comply is breaking the law and can thus lead to hefty fines and penalties.
Reason #2 Fire Extinguishers Provide Employees With Fire Suppression Equipment
Small fires may break out on occasion within a building. These can be easily quelled with an appropriate fire extinguisher.
Fire extinguishers by nature are designed to suppress smaller fires before they progress and develop into full-blown out-of-control blazes.
Without fire extinguishers it can be difficult – if not outright dangerous for employees – to attempt to contain a fire.
Put out quickly, small fires have less chance of causing major damage to your property. And speaking of damage…
Reason #3 Fire Extinguishers Reduce Potential Brand Damage and Reputation
It is estimated that 40% of small businesses fail to recover and reopen following major disasters such as a fire.
A small fire which could have been easily stopped by an employee trained to correctly use a fire extinguisher can grow very quickly and burn the entire place down.
The cost and losses aren’t limited solely to the property consumed by the fire but includes your reputation and brand image. These can both take a serious hit after such an incident. And that’s why 4 out of 10 businesses close shop forever.
Reason #4 Fire Extinguishers Mitigate Potential Injury Cases
Having a fire extinguisher on-hand to put out a fire, can buy your employees the necessary time needed to exit the building and get to safety.
If a fire is small enough, a fire extinguisher can be used to contain the fire while staff members are ushered out of the building to safety.
Reduce the potential injuries that employees sustain by investing in quality fire suppression and control systems.
Reason #5 Fire Extinguishers Reassure Staff That Their Place of Work is Safe
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, the need to feel safe and secure is deeply embedded in the human psyche.
Employees want to know that their place of occupation is fully equipped with the necessary resources to keep them safe.
Having fire extinguishers and well-trained employees that can use them is not only in the best interests of the business but all who work on-site.
The Bottom Line
Every small business regardless of the type of work they do needs a fire extinguisher. If you’re not sure which fire extinguisher is suitable for your business or how many you should have per floor, you can contact your local fire experts.
For businesses in Waterloo, Ontario keen to discuss a fire prevention plan or fire suppression systems with a specialist don’t hesitate to reach out to Profire Safety Services.
We offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.
Request a free quote today.