It’s that time of year when you might be gathering as a company to celebrate the holiday season. It’s also a time when fire safety isn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Here are a few fire safety tips to consider before throwing your annual holiday office party.

Stick to an Artificial Christmas Tree

While artificial trees are not totally fire proof, they are safer than real trees in a few ways. One, artificial trees are coated with flame-retardant that can help reduce the chances of it catching fire. Two, artificial trees can’t dry out which is a major reason why real trees are so flammable. Artificial trees are generally safer than real trees from a fire safety standpoint.

And when decorating your Christmas tree, use lights that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory, are intended for indoor use only, and not damaged. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords. NFPA reports that in more than 22% of Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source, like a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.

If you’re at an event space, these things may be out of your control, but just keep in mind that Christmas trees and heat sources do not mix. One idea is to designate one person, or have a rotation of volunteers, on “tree duty.” This person would simply keep an eye on the tree and make sure no one gets too close with an open flame, or other heat source. You may even ask the event space coordinator to assign someone to do this for you.

Avoid Open Flames

Candles, fireplaces, lighters. The holidays are full of fire hazards. When decorating for your holiday office party, avoid real candles and opt for battery operated candles instead. If you have access to a fireplace, leave it off. And send all smokers outdoors so you don’t risk a fire from a cigarette or lighter. Some business owners completely restrict smoking either indoors or outdoors, especially at parties, when people have their guard down a bit more than usual.

If you’re having the event catered, watch out for chafing fuel cans that are used to keep food warm. These are open flames, right where people are gathering with napkins and other flammable material.

Don’t Block Exits

Keep all holiday decorations away from entrances or exits. During the party, encourage people to gather inside, away from the exits. If you have a Christmas tree set up, keep it on the other side of the room or central to the room so that it’s nowhere near where people come and go.

This is also true of windows, stairwells, and emergency exits. Don’t sacrifice fire safety for décor.

Watch Capacity

Make sure you send out invitations that require an RSVP so that you can plan for the appropriate number of attendees. Avoid having employees just bring family members or friends as you could have quite a crowd on your hands. If you’re renting a space, ask the event coordinator about max capacity and stick to it.

Overcrowding becomes a fire safety issue in many ways, namely that too many people in one space affects safe evacuation in the event of a fire.

Have a plan

Just as you have a fire evacuation plan for your building, you should also know the fire evacuation plan for the space where you’re holding an office gathering. If it’s a new venue, a restaurant, a bar, etc., ask about the plan when booking the space. The last thing you want is to get in a situation where co-workers can’t escape in the event of a fire emergency.

If you’re holding the gathering in your own building, don’t let your guard down. Review the plan and think of ways you may have to modify plan if you need to evacuate during a party vs regular office hours.

Another thing to think about is sound. Music and parties go hand in hand, but don’t let the volume drown out important evacuation signaling or messaging.

Fire Systems, Inc.

Fire Systems, Inc. wishes all of our clients, employees, and community a safe and happy holiday season. In business since 1986, we pride ourselves on our community involvement and look forward to serving you and all of your fire protection needs. We are an all services fire protection company, meaning that we do it all. From fire alarm to sprinkler, vehicle systems to kitchen hoods, we can install, inspect, maintain, and repair all aspects of your building’s fire protection system. Call us today at 770-333-7979 or visit our website for more information on all of our services.


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