The Importance of Fire Protection for Businesses
You may think it’s impossible for a fire to ignite at your business location, but consider that in an average year, nearly 3,500 fires break out in office buildings across the U.S. The National Fire Protection Association reports that these fires on average, kill four civilians, injure 44 others, and cause $112 million in property damage each year. Fire is always a possibility, but you can reduce the chance of death, injury, and property damage by making a fire protection plan for your business.
What To Include in Your Fire Protection Plan
It’s important for your employees to be aware of your facility’s fire risks and take steps to reduce the chance of fire. Then, they must know how to respond in case a rogue blaze breaks out. To ensure the highest level of safety, include the following in your fire protection efforts:
- Fire prevention planning: Your business should have a formal document outlining the fire hazards in your building — which may include combustible items, flammable liquids, and heat-producing equipment such as kitchen equipment — as well as any procedures necessary to prevent a fire emergency. All employees should be familiar with the fire prevention policy and follow its guidelines at all times.
- Proper housekeeping techniques: Maintaining a tidy office is essential for reducing hazards that could start a fire as well as reduce the spread of flames if a blaze breaks out. Examples of good housekeeping include cleaning up flammable materials immediately, throwing away trash in metal containers with tightly fitting lids, and keeping corridors and emergency exits clear.
- Fire extinguisher training: Once a year, you should facilitate fire extinguisher training for your employees in accordance with NFPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Training should include hands-on use of a fire extinguisher and updates on any new policies.
- Emergency evacuation planning: Every building has unique evacuation requirements. Establish a plan that explains how and when to respond to a fire that ignites in your business. The plan might state that employees should attempt to use a fire extinguisher to douse a small fire. If firefighting efforts fail, employees should evacuate while closing doors behind them to slow the growing flames. If any employees have special requirements, the evacuation plan should address these details.
- Fire emergency response team: Round up volunteers willing to receive training and education regarding your building’s fire emergency plan and evacuation procedures. These individuals are responsible for enforcing fire safety and prevention methods throughout the office. If a fire occurs, the emergency response team assists others in evacuating safely.
- Fire protection equipment installation: The best way to ensure employee safety and slow the spread of fire is to install the proper equipment, including fire sprinklers, portable fire extinguishers, fire alarms, automatic fire suppression systems, and emergency lighting. With these systems in place, your building is better equipped to fight off fires and help occupants evacuate safely.
- Fire protection equipment maintenance and testing: In addition to performing repairs when something goes wrong, the NFPA requires routine maintenance and testing of all fire protection equipment. This requires you to team up with a licensed and certified fire protection company that can perform the services you need on a regular basis.
- Ensure your building is properly equipped: Depending on the size of your building, you may need to increase the number of fire extinguishers. Make sure the locations of fire extinguishers are known by employees and included in the fire protection policy. Also make sure all exits are properly marked and included in the plan so all employees are able to find their way out of the building in the event of a fire.
Get Help Implementing Your Fire Protection Plan
Unifour Fire & Safety is dedicated to helping business owners across the Southeast keep their people, buildings, and merchandise safe from destructive fires. We can help you formulate and implement an effective fire protection plan to reduce the chance of fire and limit property damage and loss of life if a blaze does ignite. Contact us today to learn more about the fire protection services we offer in the Southeast.