Fire Safety in the Workplace

Nobody ever really “expects” a fire to happen. Yes, we do often engage in various fire drills each year to practice exit skills if a fire should occur. But how do you really know if your employees are truly ready for a fire if one was to happen? One of the best defenses against fire is knowledge. While it is a good idea to continue to practice fire drills, we should not lose sight of the need for fire safety training as well. For instance, do employees really know how to respond if they were trapped in the building and not able to exit, also do employees know the basics of how to operate a fire extinguisher? These are just a couple of pertinent fire safety questions you should consider when providing fire safety training to employees.

Here are some tips to add to your fire safety training program:

Before a Fire Happens (Training):

  • Workplace Fire Hazards Should be identified: If specific tools or equipment pose an elevated risk for fire, employees should be warned and aware of them. This allows employees the opportunity to keep a lookout for signs that a machine or tool may be getting too hot or becoming a risk for fire.
  • The Emergency Response Plan is reviewed with All Employees: Every business should have a written emergency response plan that is given to every employee in regards to the procedures that should take place if a fire should occur.
  • Small Group Training Should Occur Periodically – Sure, employees can be trained when they are hired regarding fire safety in the business but it is easy to forget even some of the most crucial details if the safety fire plan is not reviewed periodically. Take the time to hold small group fire refresher sessions for all employees at specific intervals.

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When a Fire Happens:

  • 911 Should be Called – When fire alarms go off, people may first assume that maybe the fire isn’t real and that it is not a true emergency and neglect to call 911. However, emergency responders should be notified immediately if any fire alarm is activated. This procedure should not be discretionary, but mandatory if any fire alarm is activated. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Employee Meeting Place – Employees should be trained to report to a designated meeting place if a fire alarm should activate. The area should be far enough away from the building to ensure safety if the building really was on fire, but close enough to get to quickly. This location should also be away from entrances so firefighters can enter and exit the premises as needed.
  • Doors should be closed – When an alarm has activated and employees are leaving the work floor and heading out the designated safe meeting area, all doors should be shut behind them. When doors are shut, it slows the spread of smoke and fire and can buy precious extra minutes of fire containment before firefighters are able to arrive on the scene.
  • Never take an Elevator – Take the Stairs! – While this may seem like an obvious practice, there are still many people who opt to try to take the elevator down to safety when a fire alarm sounds. Not only is this unwise during a fire, but it is also deadly. People are essentially at the mercy of the fire when they are confined within an elevator without any way to escape if the elevator were to stop working.
  • Make sure Employees know how to operate a Fire Extinguisher – Fire extinguishers can stop a small fire from growing into a large one if used correctly. All employees should be trained on the proper usage of fire extinguishers and how and when one should be used.

Lastly, what happens if you are trapped in a room and cannot escape?

This is a big and very real fear for many people who work in enclosed work spaces without windows. The first step is not to panic, instead stay calm and engage in certain safety practices. Employees who work in confined spaces should be trained on the unique safety practices to stay safe within their specific work environments. According to fire safety professionals, employees should seal the room using a wet cloth to stop smoke from entering the room, then employees should lay low on the floor under the dangerous smoke and signal for help using a telephone, computer, or whatever other acceptable communication method possible.

A fire is a scary thing, yet you can take the fear associated with a fire and turn it into confidence when employees are secure in their abilities to act appropriately and stay safe if a fire should occur. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-designed fire safety plan and a set of knowledgeable staff.

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