Fire prevention in a workplace does not get the needed urgent attention even though we spend a large proportion of our day at work. Most workplace fires are preventable if necessary precautions are put in place to curtail it.
According to the Communities and Local Government Fire statistics in the United Kingdom, a whooping 24,900 office fires were recorded between 2010 to 2011 alone. This figure illustrates the extent of fire outbreaks at workplaces and the importance of preventing fire outbreaks.
Adequate preventive measures should be put in place to eliminate fire hazards around offices. The consequences of workplace fire can be deadly and dangerous. Fire can result in loss of investments, properties, and in severe cases, death of people in the building.
Employers and building owners can face litigations if adequate fire prevention mechanisms are not deployed. They can be sanctioned and fined heavily if found guilty of negligence.
How to Prevent Fire Outbreak in the Workplace
Below are tips on how to prevent fire outbreak in the workplace:
1. Identify and assign a fire safety officer in the building
The Regulatory Reform Order of 2005 states that all commercial properties and businesses in the United Kingdom must assign a fire safety officer in the building. The law in England and Whales states that the business owner, the building owner, or employer is the appointed fire safety officer for buildings in England and Whales.
Current fire safety regulations must be reviewed regularly, and all safety measures put in place by the safety officer.
2. Understand the duties of the assigned fire safety officer
The safety officer’s primary role is to prevent fire outbreak in workplaces and ensure the safety of people in case of a fire outbreak. The officer has to know the layout of the building, understand, and be willing to adopt all safety guidelines outlined by the regulatory authorities.
The safety personnel should carry out periodic fire assessment risk, install the appropriate fire prevention and protection tools, and organize regular fire drills.
The assigned fire safety officer should undergo periodic training in fire and safety protection. They should have the needed skills and cool-headedness to carry out an organized evacuation process in case of a fire outbreak.
3. Installing the appropriate fire alarm system in the building
All buildings should have a fire alarm system installed. Installation of an appropriate alarm system is vital in ensuring the safety of lives and properties within the building. Appropriate fire alarms made to the industry’s standard and bought from a reputable store should be used in all buildings.
A professional should be sought for needed specifications before the procurement of fire alarms. Professionals should also install the system. Fire alarms should be maintained routinely by professionals to ensure it is good working order.
4. Maintainance of fire prevention and management installations
Fire alarms are essential and useful in the fast detection of smoke or fire in case of an explosion or fire outbreak. However, they are useless in fighting the fire and preventing spread when a breakout occurs.
Pieces of equipment such as fire extinguishers, wet and dry risers, fire doors, and sprinklers can be used to prevent the spread of fire and save lives if a fire outbreak occurs. Experts should be consulted before a fire prevention equipment is bought.
Appropriate fire extinguishers should be purchased. The environment for the fire extinguisher, the building size, and the type of fire are factors to be considered before making a purchase.
5. Develop an appropriate fire evacuation plan
All organizations should have a fire evacuation plan as part of the Fire Risk Assessment. The fire safety officer should prepare a well-planned fire evacuation plan. All entrance and exits to the building should be noted.
The fastest and the safest exit routes in case of a fire should be identified, and emergency exits set up at strategic places. Alternative routes should also be included if there is obstruction or collapse of an exit.
Signs should be placed at strategic and easy to see places. Emergency or backup lighting should be factored into the evacuation plan. The fire safety officer should ensure everyone is aware of the exits and evacuation plans. Regular fire drills should be conducted until everyone understands and can execute the evacuation plan in a calm and orderly manner.
6. Identify fire hazards and eliminate them
The fire safety officer should identify all fire hazards in the building and remove them. All faulty electrical equipment should be repaired and unplugged until fixed. Clutter due to grease, dust, poor ventilation, and refuse buildups should be cleared before they lead to a fire outbreak.
Combustible materials that can constitute fire hazards should be reduced or eliminated from the workplace. Gasoline and other petroleum products should be stored appropriately to prevent spillage. The workplace should be cleaned regularly and refuse appropriately discarded to avoid a fire outbreak.