Prepare, Prevent, Protect
Fire detection and warning systems
Fires in the workplace are really hazardous and companies must make sure employees have frequent fire drills and training so that they know what to do in the event of an actual fire occurring. One of the most important things to do is to immediately inform new employees of the fire escapes and protocols and to inform staff of any new fire hazards.
A company should carry out regular checks on fire prevention systems around the office. Check that all fire alarms and emergency lights are working, record any faults in systems or equipment and definitely make sure all escape routes are clear and well displayed. Also, they can display reporting instructions and local Fire Department codes on info boards, common areas, and areas near the phone.
Neat and Tidy
Simple housekeeping practices can make all the difference. If you are consistent in keeping your work area free from flammable litter/rubbish such as waste paper, it massively reduces the risk of a fire. If you work with machinery, make sure it is maintained to prevent overheating and friction sparks. Also place any oily rags in a covered metal container. This waste must be properly disposed of on a regular basis. Machines such as copiers, computers and coffee makers all produce quite a lot of heat so keep flammable items away from them.
These fire drills and precautions are very effective in minimising the risk of casualties caused by a fire however there are various tools you can install around the office to decrease the risk to the employees further.
Most people believe that the main cause of fire-related deaths would be burning; however it is actually smoke inhalation that is the biggest killer in a fire. That is why, having a smoke curtain at work is extremely important in minimising the risk of casualties during an office fire.
Smoke curtains are designed to withstand an oncoming fire for an hour, providing vital time for employees to escape the office. Smoke curtains are connected to two alarm inputs – a local fire alarm panel and any smoke detectors around the office. These detectors will initiate the closing of the curtains if there is a fire in the office. The detectors sensitivity can be determined by the company so once the alarm input is set, the controller can determine when the curtain will close. This item works very well when incorporated with other local alarm equipment such as a voice warning system, flashing beacons and sirens in minimising the risk of a damaging fire.
Twin Skin Fire Curtains
This is an un-insulated curtain that provides 2 hours of fire protection. It prevents the spread of fire for this period, and also ensures minimal damage and maximum escape time for employees. They can be used in any workplace setting and can be a real life saver.
There are five main types of fire extinguisher. Each one is design for a specific fire hazard and it is important to install the correct type in your work place. Water, Foam, CO2, Powder and Wet Chemical fire extinguishers are all effective for different fires.
You should buy extinguishers based on the assessment of the most likely risks for your premises. Also ensure that there are a sufficient amount of extinguishers around the office and that they are clearly positioned. It is also a good idea to designate people in the workplace who are likely to use the fire extinguisher and give them adequate instruction and training.
Fire extinguishers however, can malfunction, or there may be no-one around that knows how to use one, so it is very important that the office also has some fire blankets as a backup.
Inspect all electrical cords and wiring around the office. If any of the wiring is torn or damaged, replace it as it poses a fire risk. What’s more, your extension cords may not be completely fire proof. It would be sensible to replace these cables with cords that have built in fire shields and automatic sensors that detect overload, overheating or pinching. Try not to arrange cables down on walk ways as they may be stepped on and the outer cover may deteriorate. Also aim to not overload the circuits.
The greater the number of avenues you peruse in fire prevention as a company, the smaller the risk is to the premises and the employees who work there.