We all know that fires escalate quickly but we often don’t consider the risks and what our plans will be should a fire occur.
The first step is to assume your commercial building or industrial plant is always at risk. That means potentially serious injury (or death) to you and your employees and damage to your property and equipment.
So just as it’s important to have a fire prevention plan in place addressing any potential risk factors, it is equally important to have a set of guidelines detailing what to do in the event of a fire (and to practice them).
Major Fire Hazards
The following are some of the most common fire hazards that can be found in the workplace, including your commercial and industrial buildings. For a full explanation of major fire hazards, head over to our Most Common Fire Hazards in the Workplace & How to Prevent Them blog.
Faulty electrical equipment
Flammable liquids and vapors
Objects that generate heat
Untested fire alarms
Unmonitored fire alarms
Blocked fire exits
Overloaded power circuits
Waste and combustible materials
Fire doors left open
With the proper precautions put in place, it is possible to prevent or control a fire before it causes any serious damage. The following are important considerations when creating a fire prevention plan.
Fire extinguishers are some of the most commonly used fire protection equipment in commercial buildings and workplaces. They should be placed in any and all high-risk areas, and there should be at least one located on every floor of the building.
When caught early, fire extinguishers are extremely effective at putting out fires but will likely not suffice if the fire has managed to spread a substantial amount. Only as effective as the person using it, all employees should know how to properly use fire extinguishers and their location throughout the building(s).
While fire alarms won’t put the fire out, they are vitally important to your building. Due to the rate at which fires spread, it is crucial that everybody is made aware that they are in danger.
Fire alarms that are manually activated by a person will let out a loud, continuous sound to let everyone know to vacate the building.
A smoke alarm, however, will automatically sound an alarm if smoke has been detected in the building which is priceless in terms of buying time to get everyone out. It’s not only critical to the safety of everyone in the building but required by law/code.
If your workplace is not outfitted with a proper fire alarm system, then the time to do so is now per NFPA 72®:
National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®
NFPA 72 provides the latest safety provisions to meet society's changing fire detection, signaling, and emergency communications demands. In addition to the core focus on fire alarm systems, the Code includes requirements for mass notification systems used for weather emergencies; terrorist events; biological, chemical, and nuclear emergencies; and other threats.
Midwest Alarm Services can outfit your building with the latest in fire alarm technology, so that you are always prepared for the possibility of a fire starting.
Monitored Fire Alarms
While not required, fire alarms with 24/7 monitoring provide the speed necessary to prevent a fire from going from bad to worse. Perhaps nobody is in the building when the fire starts or the folks who are there have been compromised. The Midwest Alarm Monitoring Center is staffed 24/7 with trained professionals who can ensure the fire department is on its way to you with little to no time lost.
One of the most effective ways to extinguish a fire is by installing a sprinkler system. Operable both by high heat detection and manual operations, sprinklers will distribute pressurized water onto any of the areas where air between 135 and 165 degrees is detected, ideally drowning out the flame before any significant damage has been done.
Establishing Fire Procedures in the Case of a Spreading Flame
No matter how many safety precautions you put in place, there is always that chance a fire could get out of hand and wreak havoc in your building. It is important to establish procedures and a set of rules to follow if your tenants and/or employees are put in danger by a quickly spreading flame.
Establish a Predetermined Route for Exiting the Building
When it’s time to get everybody out of the building, every second counts. The less time that people are exposed to the flames and smoke, the less likely they are to suffer from burns or lung damage. All building occupants need to know the quickest way out of the building from every interior location.
Any floor that is not the ground floor should be equipped with a fire escape or stairs. Using the elevators is contraindicated in the event of a fire.
Following and practicing these predetermined routes with little to no deviation is the best way to get out safely. Everyone should be encouraged to leave their belongings behind and evacuate as quickly as possible. The less time they spend inside the building, the better.
Educate Your Employees in Fire Safety
Your tenants and/or employees should know proper fire safety etiquette. This includes things like crawling and staying low to the ground to avoid smoke, feeling doors with the back of your hand before entering them (to check for heat), using the fire escape and stairs before anything else, and covering their mouths and noses to prevent smoke inhalation.
Most importantly, teach everyone not to panic. If everybody has been properly educated on how to handle themselves in the event of a fire, as well as all the predetermined evacuation procedures, it will help reduce panic which only clouds judgment and causes additional problems.
Furthermore, make sure that your building is up to proper fire safety codes and standards. Doors should open outwardly, avoid design flaws and outfit your buildings with fire escapes and fire extinguishers.
If you need an effective and advanced fire alarm system installed in your building(s), Midwest Alarm Services has you covered. We offer a number of different types of fire alarm systems and services, including 24/7 fire monitoring. In addition, we can outfit your building with the latest in video surveillance, access control, and any other needed security technology.
Partner with Midwest Alarm Services to provide your tenants, employees, and visitors with the safest possible experience, giving you greater peace of mind whether you are on or off the clock!