Fire safety in the workplace should not be taken lightly. To ensure your office and employees are protected, focus on prevention, response protocols, and training. Even a small fire can cause enough damage to shut down your business for good. These tips can help you prevent such an occurrence, starting with prevention.
Preventing an Office Fire
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, cooking equipment causes more than a quarter of all office property fires. Other leading causes include electrical distribution and lighting equipment, heating equipment, smoking materials, and electronic, office, or entertainment equipment. The following preventative measures can improve fire safety in your office:
- Install fire extinguishers in kitchenettes, cafeterias, and other at-risk locations and train all workers in using them.
- Avoid overloading your electrical outlets and make sure the number of prongs between the plug and outlets match.
- Make sure all electrical equipment has been rated by Underwriters Laboratories or another nationally recognized laboratory.
- Avoid cluttering your workspace, which can add fire to fuel and block access to emergency exits and electrical control panels.
- Maintain machinery to prevent it from overheating and generating friction sparks, which can ignite fires.
- Store flammable chemicals only in well-ventilated areas and use extreme precautions in potentially explosive environments (and pay attention to labels and Material Safety Data Sheets).
- If space heaters are permitted, use only devices with thermostat controls and store them away from flammable materials.
Establish Workplace Protocols
Your company should have a fire plan in place. It should outline the steps employees should take in case of a fire, including calling 911, appointing a fire prevention officer familiar with all escape routes and meeting points, and conducting regular fire drills. A fire evacuation plan should be posted in multiple locations (and include elevators). Evacuation protocols for disabled employees should be available.
In addition, your business should:
- Install a sprinkler system: The National Fire Protection Association has said when properly installed and maintained, sprinklers can be 95% effective. Sprinklers are the best way to stop a fire from spreading.
- Replace old wiring: Frayed wires, broken connectors, or cables with damaged insulation should be replaced right away. Also, avoid cluttering wires and plugs around a single outlet and don’t install more than one extension cord per outlet.
- Leave room for appliances: For devices like computers, coffee machines, and others that heat up, leave enough room for them, and let them cool down. Make sure they’re kept away from paper, cloth, and other combustibles and unplug them at the end of the day.
First aid kits should be available where hazards are most likely to occur. Also, all employees should be made aware of where each first aid kit is.
Employee training should involve all workers knowing how many doors, machines, or desks are between their work area and the closest exit. The locations of alternative exits and fire alarms (and how to use them) should be known as well.
Smoke and Fire Alarms
Smoke detectors are required by law, which also identifies how they should be installed, placed, and monitored. The most effective alarms also detect carbon monoxide. For even more protection, use a 24/7 monitoring service that dispatches emergency personnel when necessary. Boyd & Associates can provide complete security that includes hardwired or wireless fire protection systems and 24/7 alarm monitoring. Our UL Listed Monitoring Station can send help whenever an alarm is triggered.
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