There is always a risk of an unintentional fire being started in commercial buildings and industrial plants, and, without a proper set of safety measures put in place, fires can spiral out of control extremely quickly.
Not only will this put you and your employees at risk of serious injury or death, but an out-of-control flame can cause an incredible amount of damage to the property, as well as any expensive equipment. Thus, the importance of having a fire prevention plan in place, including a set of guidelines detailing what to do if a fire has been started.
Major Fire Hazards
Commercial and industrial buildings are home to their fair share of major fire hazards. The following are some of the most common fire hazards that can be found in the workplace.
Dust - As we’re sure you know, dust is everywhere and is the cause of a lot of annoyance. Believe it or not, dust is actually a fire hazard as well. Dust can easily gather in hard-to-reach areas, specifically inside computers, microwaves, and other heat-producing electrical equipment. If these items go uncleaned for too long, then the dust inside of them can catch fire.
Power - Circuits One of the most common fire hazards in the workplace is the overloading of power sockets. When too much equipment is being powered by a single socket, the circuits can overheat and become potential ignition sources. This can be avoided by unplugging or deactivating equipment when it is not being used.
Combustible Materials - Materials like paper and cardboard can prove to be fire hazards, as they are easily flammable and are often piled up in large quantities. If these materials are left near an outlet or some other electrical appliance, then this could pose a risk of a fire starting.
Flammable Liquids - Similarly to combustible materials like paper and cardboard, certain liquids can catch fire if kept too close to a potential ignition source. While this may be less common depending on the industry you work in, any amount of flammable liquid can create a risk of a fire starting.
Creating a Fire Prevention Plan
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 things to consider when creating a fire prevention plan.
Fire extinguishers are some of the most commonly used fire protection equipment in commercial buildings and workplaces. Fire extinguishers need to be placed in any and all high-risk areas, and there should be at least one located on every floor of the building.
Fire extinguishers are extremely effective at putting out fires, but will likely not suffice if the fire has managed to spread a substantial amount. That said, if the fire is still new and hasn’t grown terribly large, a fire extinguisher should be able to do the trick.
A fire extinguisher is only as effective as the person using it, and employees are responsible for knowing how to properly utilize fire extinguishers, as well as where they are located in the building. This should be something that you make sure they are aware of when they are hired.
While fire alarms won’t necessarily help put out the fire, they are still vitally important to your building. Fires can spread quickly from their place of inception to the rest of the building, and it is crucial that everybody is made aware that they are in danger. A fire alarm needs to be activated by a person, and it will let out a loud, continuous sound to let everyone know that they need to vacate the building.
Some varieties of fire alarms, called smoke detectors, will automatically sound an alarm if smoke has been detected in the building. These can be extra effective, as they can let people know that a fire has been started before anyone has actually discovered it, reducing the risk of someone getting hurt.
If your workplace is not outfitted with a proper fire alarm system, then the time to do so is now. Not having working fire alarms puts you and your employees at great risk. 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.
One of the most effective ways to extinguish a fire is by installing a sprinkler system in your building. These can be activated by a person or the sprinklers themselves if they detect a flame. Upon being activated, these will rain water down on any of the floors where a fire was detected, ideally drowning out the flame before any significant damage has been done.
Establishing Procedures in the Case of an Out-of Control Flame
Of course, it is impossible for a building to be 100% foolproof, and, no matter how many safety precautions you put in place, there is always a chance that a fire could wreak havoc in your workplace. Thus, it is important to establish procedures and a set of rules to follow if your employees are put in danger by an out-of-control flame.
Establish a Predetermined Route for Exiting the Building
If an uncontrollable fire is raging in your building, then the most important thing to do is get everybody out of the building as quickly as possible. The less time that people are exposed to the flames and smoke, the less likely they are to suffer from burns or lung damage. For each and every floor and room in your building, you and your employees need to know the quickest way out of the building from that particular location.
If the level they are on is not the ground floor, then they will have to make use of a fire escape. If your building is not outfitted with a fire escape, then it needs to be. Using the elevators is not a good idea. If there is no fire escape, then use the stairs.
Following these predetermined routes with little to no deviation is the best way to get out safely. Encourage people to leave their belongings behind and get out as quickly as possible. The less time they spend inside the building the better.
Educate Your Employees in Fire Safety
You and your 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 ensure that it is not excessively hot behind the door), using the fire escape and stairs before anything else, and covering your mouth and nose to prevent smoke inhalation.
Most importantly, try 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, then panicking will only cloud judgement and cause more problems.
Furthermore, make sure that your building is up to proper fire safety codes and standards. Doors should open outwardly, there should be no design flaws that could contribute to a flame, and the building should be outfitted with fire escapes and fire extinguishers.
If you need an effective and advanced fire alarm system installed in your workplace, Midwest Alarm Services has you covered. We offer a number of different types of fire alarm systems and services. In addition, we can also outfit your building with the latest in video surveillance, access control, and security technology.
Partner with Midwest Alarm Services to provide your employees and customers with the safest possible experience and give you greater peace of mind while working. Contact us today for more information.