There are far fewer business-related fire incidents today than there were a decade ago – and that’s thanks in part to the readily available information on workplace fire safety.
While most of the tips out there are really good, we always like to emphasize and stress the importance of getting the fundamentals right.
Our focus in this article will be showing you the top five most important workplace fire safety tips you need to know to secure your business premises and protect your employees.
If you focus on these tips, you’ll significantly improve overall workplace safety and decrease the chances of suffering devastating fire incidents.
Let’s get started.
Tip #1 Conduct a Fire Inspection
What is a fire inspection?
Safeopedia.com gives us a clear definition. A fire inspection is an assessment:
“…conducted by a fire [authority] to assess the potential fire safety hazards in a building.”
Fire inspections aren’t created equal. There are different types of fire inspections and each is designed to address a particular need.
Some of the goals of a fire inspection include:
· Verifying if the building under inspection meets the provincial Fire Code standards
· Testing fire detection and fire alarm systems
· Checking whether the existing fire extinguishers are the right type and functional
· Validating the efficiency of fire hydrants and functionality of pumps
· Assessing the means of egress as well as the visibility of emergency signage
You see, you cannot improve workplace fire safety if you don’t know what’s wrong or missing. So a fire inspection is the first step to improving fire safety within businesses.
Tip #2 Install Workplace-Appropriate Fire Extinguishers
Do you know that there are more than five different types of fire extinguishers? Yes and each extinguisher carries a different substance and is intended to put out a different kind of fire.
Why is this important to know? Because this allows you to choose fire extinguishers based on the type of business conducted on-premise.
What are these different fire extinguishers you’re asking?
Here’s a resource that lists the extinguisher and what type of fire it is designed to put out.
Source: Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety
We’ve written in-depth about which workplace fire extinguishers to use in our post What Fire Extinguisher is Ideal For Your Business.
Tip #3 Appoint Fire Wardens Chosen From Employees
Chaos and pandemonium can make evacuating a burning building difficult. For this reason, it’s important to have level-headed people to instruct others and ensure order prevails during a fire incident.
Such people, chosen from within your own workforce, are referred to as fire wardens. Their responsibilities will include taking charge of the situation, co-coordinating egress and accounting for everyone.
On a day-to-day basis they will also need to make sure that fire safety procedures are being adhered to in the workplace. Because this is quite an immense responsibility, your fire wardens have to undergo basic fire warden training. This is something that can be easily arranged with your local fire specialist.
Tip #4 Consider Integrating a Dry/Wet Fire Sprinkler System
Fire sprinkler systems are a fantastic way to contain and or extinguish fires. They buy people inside the building time to safely evacuate the premises.
Without sprinkler systems, fires can easily spread and get out of control very fast. Furthermore, there will be nothing to suppress the toxic gases emanating from the burning elements.
There are two types of fire sprinkler systems to be aware of:
· Dry pipe sprinkler systems
· Wet pipe sprinkler systems
What are the differences between these two and when should you install one and not the other?
Let’s look at wet sprinklers first.
These contain water which is automatically dispersed as soon as a fire is detected. They cannot be used in temperatures below 40°F (4.4°C) however, and the pipes also don’t have pressurized air.
Dry sprinklers on the other hand do not contain water but have pressurized air instead, and can be used in temperatures below 40°F (4.4°C).
Wet sprinklers are the go-to for the majority of businesses. And dry sprinklers are preferable for unheated buildings, warehouses and parking garages because of the relatively lower temperatures they are often subject to.
Tip #5 Update Your Smoke Detector and Fire Alarm
How often should you check and test your smoke detectors and fire alarms?
When it comes to fire alarms it is recommended to test your smoke alarms at least once per month to confirm that they are still functional.
It is good workplace fire safety, to also replace batteries twice a year – after every six month period. The actual fire alarm itself can be switched out for a brand new system every 10 years – or however, often your local fire specialist deems necessary.
Fire alarms are an absolute must. Studies have shown us that on-premises with fire detectors and smoke alarms, the fatalities tend to be lower than in buildings with no fire detection and smoke alarm systems.
Bonus Tip: Teach Employees the Company Fire Safety Plan and Conduct Fire Drills
This list would be incomplete without talking about a fire safety plan. Every business is mandated to have a detailed plan of escape that shows at least two modes of egress for employees working inside the building.
This fire safety plan should also be taught to every employee ensuring that everyone is aware of what to do in the event of a fire. You can check how prepared your staff is by conducting fire drills to test employee response.
The Bottom Line
By taking time to assess how prepared you are as a company to respond to a fire incident you put yourself ahead of most and in a better position to recover quickly.
A major takeaway from this article is the need to be proactive in your workplace fire safety efforts.
Work with fire experts to identify problems and rectify them.
If your business is in Waterloo, Ontario don’t hesitate to reach out to the leading fire specialists: 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.