No one expects to experience a workplace fire, but they can and do occur. It’s important that all employees understand the fire hazards present in your building and know what to do in the event of a fire emergency. Building owners can add a layer of protection and peace of mind to their overall fire protection plan by taking just a few simple but important steps.

Understand your risk

NFPA’s report on U.S. Structure Fires in Office Properties (which includes general business offices, banks, veterinary or research offices, engineering, mailing firms and post offices) reports that during the period of 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 3,340 fires in office properties per year. The majority of fires in this category were in business offices.

More than one in every four office property fires (29 percent) was caused by cooking equipment, followed by electrical distribution and lighting equipment as the second leading cause of fire. These statistics can be helpful for building owners, but also employees.

Know your fire hazards

Are your employees aware of common fire hazards in your workplace? Workplace fires may be avoided with some simple educating and training on common fire hazards in the environment. For example, for many office buildings (not warehouses, factories, or manufacturing plants), a common fire hazard is electrical appliances or wiring. This could mean overloading an extension cord, improper use of a copier/printer, or even misuse of specialty equipment specific to your industry.

Take the time to identify everyday workplace fire hazards and educate all employees and personnel of these hazards. It may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many people aren’t aware of basic electrical hazards.

Emergency evacuation plan

 Does your business have an established emergency evacuation plan that is well communicated to all employees and personnel? If the answer is no, the repercussions can be heavy. From possible accusation of corporate neglect to loss of life, an emergency evacuation plan is essential for any business with employees, no matter the size of the company. It’s not enough to create a plan though; conduct formal drills and make this plan part of your onboarding process for new employees.

OSHA requires all businesses have at the very least a preferred method for reporting fires, an evacuation policy and procedure, and an emergency escape procedure and route assignments (i.e., floor plans, workplace maps, etc.). Additionally, OSHA requires “procedures in place for employees who remain to perform or shut down critical plant operations, operate fire extinguishers, or perform other essential services.”

Here are a few elements of an effective emergency evacuation plan, from Better Workplaces, Better World:

  • Assign a single person responsible for the safe evacuation of all employees
  • Trained marshals in all areas
  • Well-marked exit and escape routes
  • Multiple safe assembly areas
  • Protected exit points
  • A visitor awareness program
  • Regular training and drills
  • An effective personnel accounting procedure
  • Post-incident support

Fire extinguisher training

Fire extinguisher training will look different based on your business type and fire hazards, but for the typical office building, a basic training course on portable fire extinguishers should be sufficient.

Untrained individuals may endanger themselves and others. Training your entire group of employees can ensure the safety of everyone in your building.

Your fire protection company may provide this type of training. Contact them to ask about trainings.

Protect your business

Fire Systems, Inc. offers fire extinguisher training for all customers. We are also a full-service fire protection company. We can be your one source for all things fire protection. There are many benefits to using one company for all of your fire protection needs. We offer bundling options, keep track of your required inspections, and ensure your business is compliant and up to date on the latest fire protection products on the market today.

Our technicians are highly trained, highly certified, and on call 24/7 in the event of a fire emergency at your business. Don’t let a workplace fire destroy your business or worse. Fire Systems can install and inspect your buildings fire alarm system, fire sprinkler system, fire suppression, and more. Call us today at 770-333-7979 or visit our website for more information.