Fires can strike at any time, anywhere. Along with them, they bring chaos, destruction, and loss of lives and property. It’s thus crucial for every organization to be prepared to deal with workplace fires. This is especially true seeing the number of fires that occur in non-residential buildings.
The National Fire Protection Association states that over 100,300 fires occurred in non-residential buildings yearly between 2014 to 2016. Over 90 civilians died as a result, and more than 1,350 were injured. In addition, they led to $2.4 billion worth of property damage.
By training your employees to handle workplace fire emergencies, you can minimize the loss of both life and property. You can do so by speeding up your response to the emergency. Here’s how you can prepare them for a workplace fire.
Teach Hazard Recognition
Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Thus, your primary goal should be to take all steps necessary to stop fires from igniting at your workplace. For this, you need to make your employees aware of all the fire hazards and how to avoid them.
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First, you’ll need to do a thorough study of your workplace and list down all the possible fire hazards. This critical information then needs to be shared with your employees. You must explain to them how they can avoid risks and control the unavoidable ones. Some of the hazard prevention tips that you can share with them are:
- Keep your workplace free of clutter and avoid combustible waste as much as possible
- Items that can catch fire easily must be kept away from heat-producing equipment such as burners, coffee makers, etc.
- If there’s any electrical damage to any equipment, ensure that it’s repaired promptly
- Avoid using equipment that gives burning odor or overheats quickly
- Ensure that you keep smoking to designated areas and dispose of cigarette butts safely
- Don’t overload power outlets
Prepare a Fire Response Plan
A fire response plan is a must for every organization, and you must take the initiative to draft one for your business. Your goal should be to minimize the loss of life and property so design the plan to achieve this goal.
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Some of the key things that your fire safety plan should consist of are:
- Steps that employees must take when they hear a fire alarm
- Training for employees to handle basic firefighting equipment such as fire alarms, fire safety kits, and fire extinguishers.
- Locations of emergency fire exits and employees should be made aware of these places too
- The fact that employees must avoid elevators at all costs during a fire
- How and where to assemble after exiting the fire area in a planned manner
- Everything else that needs to be taught to employees during fire response training
Fire Response Training
You’ve already taught your employees how to avoid fires and drafted a plan of action in case of fires too. The next step is to teach your employees how they should act in case of a fire. This can be achieved by fire response training, which should cover:
- Finding the nearest pull station and activate it to sound the fire alarm throughout the building. This must be the first step to ensure that everyone’s made aware of the fire instantly. It helps if the alarm is monitored, as the fire department will also be notified of the same.
- Using a multi-channel emergency notification system to send out an emergency alert to all your employees. This would help you reach everyone in your premises, even those who haven’t heard the alarm go off.
- Call 911 to report the fire.
- If the fire is small enough to be controlled, all attempts should be made to extinguish it using fire extinguishers or fire hose reels. While doing so, ensure that you’re standing between the fire and the fire exit. This would help you escape quickly in case you fail to contain the fire.
- If the fire is too big to be controlled when you see it, your first response should be to evacuate the space instantly. Follow all the established procedures to leave the building quickly and peacefully. Assist your co-workers and customers while exiting the premises.
Conduct Fire Drills
Once you’ve drafted a plan to fight fires and trained your employees about the same, you need to test everyone’s readiness. This can be achieved by conducting fire drills. You need to create fire scenarios and see how your employees react to them. This also helps you identify any potential loopholes in your fire escape plan.
In addition, your employees must emphasize the importance of recognizing the fire alarm and acting immediately without delay. Your role should be to monitor if all the safety evacuation procedures are being followed as taught in training. If you find that some employees aren’t adhering to the procedures, you need to train them again.
Conducting such surprise fire drills can help you perfect your fire safety plan and also prepare your employees for potential fires.
It’s crucial for every organization to prepare its staff for workplace fires to minimize the damage to life and property. You should teach all your employees on how to identify and avoid fire hazards. In addition, you must draft a fire safety plan and outline how everyone should respond to any fire emergency.
Based on the fire safety plan, you should teach your employees what they must do in case of fires. Conduct regular fire drills to understand your preparedness and identify any loopholes in your fire safety plan. This also helps you find out if some employees aren’t following the evacuation procedures.
What are the other things that you need to keep in mind to prepare your employees for a workplace fire? Let me know in the comments.