Planning for Reducing and Preventing Fires
Fires are typically undesirable when they consume equipment or the workplace. From 2014 to 2016, the United States Fire Administration estimated that there were 100,300 nonresidential building fires in each year in the United States, amounting to over 300,000 fires and around $7.2 billion in property losses. Cooking was the leading cause, around 30% of them, and in 59% of the buildings, the fire spread beyond the room it started in. In Canada, from 2012 to 2016 the number of total calls reported – fire and non fire calls has increased from 462,542 incidents reported in 2012 to 494,811 in 2016.
It is not safe to assume that a fire will not erupt in your workplace. Instead, being proactive and taking the appropriate actions to prevent possible damage will not only save lives, but also your place of work.
Fire safety is not something to ignore, here are three steps you can take:
Step 1: Reducing Firestarters
The first step in fire prevention is identifying and reducing firestarters. Depending on the industry, there are various potential causes for fires, and it is up to you to investigate the workplace. Some common sources include combustible dusts like sawdust or metal shavings, oily rags, exposed fuel, certain cleaning products, various cooking products, electrical sources, combustible metals, organic materials like wood, or any number of combustible materials. Once these sources are identified, the next step is working to reduce their presence in the workplace.
Depending on the hazard, this can be done in various ways. Common means include building a ventilation for combustible dusts; designated disposal areas with coverings for oily rags; locking up the storage of flammable liquids; or installing GFCI outlets around water sources. Whatever the hazard, it is important to reduce or eliminate its presence in the workplace once it has been identified.
Step 2: Installing Fire Prevention
The next step after reducing firestarters is to install protection against fires. This is to help eliminate fires in case that they have started, or just means to prevent fires from spreading. Fire codes call for buildings to have sprinkler systems and smoke alarms, but it is up to you to make sure that these tools are well maintained. It is important to replace smoke alarm batteries when needed and to ensure sprinklers cover every area that they need to, especially when you make changes to a building, such as making a new kitchen area.
To prevent a fire from spreading, in particularly high-risk areas, it may be worthwhile to replace wooden doors with fire-proof ones. These doors can prevent or slow a fire from spreading, allowing for authorities to show up and reducing property damage.
It is necessary to have fire extinguishers readily available in the workplace. Fires have different classes which different fire extinguishers are needed for. Because fo this, you must assess the potential fire risks in your workplace to ensure you have the right fire extinguisher for they type of fire. For example a fire extinguisher meant for kitchens will likely not put out a fire caused by combustible metals like magnesium.
Step 3: Train Employees
Train employees on the fire hazards at your workplace. This step is just as important as the first two, but it must be done in addition to the first two steps simply because of human error. In other words, this method is less reliable on it’s own than the previous two.
Training employees is fundamental in fire prevention. Employees need to know the potential fire hazards, even the obvious ones, so that they can watch for signs of a potential fire hazard. As well, employees should be trained on the different types of fires that can erupt in a workplace, so they know how to put each type out. The majority of the fire types become worse when water is thrown on them so it is important that employees understand when they should and should not use water.
Employees should also be trained on how to react to a fire, they need to know when and how to evacuate. There may be nothing worse than getting everyone out of a building on fire and realizing someone is trapped because they didn’t know the exit route.