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Aug 2016

What in the blazes!? How is the fire safety your workplace?


 Firemen in front of fire truck

It is a nightmare. You stand in the parking lot; helpless. A fire roars before you; the flames licking the dry summer air, consuming the building that is your livelihood, and illuminating the night sky. You built this business from nothing, and now it crumbles in fire and ash. You think all of your employees were out of the building, but there were some late meetings scheduled. You aren’t sure…did they know what to do? Where to go? All you can do is pray…

Unfortunately, a situation like the one described above has probably occurred at some point. Thankfully, these types of situations can be avoided. Has the threat of a fire every worried you at your place of employment? Are you aware of the fire emergency procedures in your workplace? A single spark can lead to the demise of your workplace. Have you taken all of the precautions necessary? If a fire were to occur, would you be prepared?

Fires are a common occurrence across the United States. There were over 1.2 million fires throughout the country in 2014, per the National Fire Protection Association.  Not only are fires a threat to human life, but they can also incite significant financial struggle. The NFPA found that, collectively, nearly 12 billion dollars of property damage took place due to fires in 2014. A fire can put a large strain a company’s budget, regardless of insurance.

Fires that occur in the workplace can originate from a variety of sources. Identifying and safeguarding these sources is the key in preventing a fire in your workplace. Fires can result from things such as cooking, malfunctioning appliances, heating systems, lightening strikes, smoking, and arson.

The United States Fire Administration performed a study to identify the most common sources of fires in non-residential buildings in 2014. After identifying 15 different categories, the USFA ordered them from most common to least common. Here is a look at the tip 3.

  1. Cooking was the number one cause of non-residential fires. It was the source for 30% of all non-residential fires in the United States in 2014. Cooking fires can result from even the simplest of meal preps. Restaurant kitchens and employee kitchens should be aware of cooking fire-safety. Anyone cooking should pay attention to what they are making. Anything left to close to the burners can catch fire.

Grease fires and oven fires are two of the most common cooking-fire occurrences. DO NOT throw water on grease fires. This will cause the grease to spread quickly throughout the immediate area, and the fire will become too large to control. Oven fires and grease fires can both be put out by cutting off the oxygen supply from the fire.

  1. Unintentional and careless activity account for the 2nd most fires in non-residential buildings. This category accounted for 10% of all non-residential fires in 2014. These types of activities could include an accident with flammable equipment, careless use of combustible material, and other similar things. Preventing these accidents Is easier said than done, as they are often the source of human error, and not circumstance. Employers should stress the importance of proper equipment handling and smart usage. Additional training is also useful in improving equipment handling.
  2. The third most common cause of fires in non-residential areas is fires resulting from heating systems.  Just below 10% of all non-residential fires in 2014 fall under this category. Heating fires are often the result of a lack of care. Heating systems should be cleaned and serviced regularly. Additionally, space heaters were the cause of fire in 2 of every 5 reported fires in 2014. Placing combustible material too close to space heaters can cause a fire.

Identifying potential fire hazards in your workplace is the first step in fire safety. The second step is to create an emergency action plan. An emergency plan will save the lives of those in your workplace should a fire occur. After implementing a sound plan, it is important to drill the workplace in fire-tests. Everyone should be aware of their exit routes, rendezvous points, and check-in system. It is also beneficial to have trained individuals trained in CPR and first aid.

You may never experience a fire in your workplace, but that does not mean you shouldn’t prepare. It only takes one spark, and your entire livelihood can go up in flames. Expending the effort it takes to prepare is better than sweeping up the ashes of your workplace. Choose preparation over relaxation, and you choose longevity over disaster.  

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