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Fire Safety in the Workplace

It is vital to have a fire plan in the workplace that ensures all employees can get out of the building safely. Whether you are the employee or the employer, there are a number of things you need to make sure are known to be prepared for, and properly deal with a fire at work. There is no use with only having a ‘hazy idea’ of what evacuation procedures and fire fighting steps that should be taken.

Escape Routes

All employees should know their fire escape plan. There needs to be at least two ways to get out of a building, in case one of them has been blocked by fire. If you are the employer, make sure that all employees know what their escape options are.

There must ALWAYS be a clear path to each exit. Obstacles in the way can cause people to trip and fall, adding more possibility of injuries.

Make sure all escape routes are clearly marked so those who are trying to escape the building have no problem finding where they need to go during a stressful situation.

Fire SafetyWhen it comes to those escape options, it is vital to make sure the doors are unlocked when there are employees or visitors in the building. You don’t want employees to go to what they think is a way to get out of a building safely and be stuck inside because the door has been chained or locked.

Never wedge fire doors open as they are designed to protect escape routes and prevent the spread of toxic smoke and fumes. And as fire needs oxygen to survive, a fresh feed of air through wedged open fire doors may only lead to building the fire hazard.

Fire Fighting

There should always be fire extinguishers in your workplace. If a fire is caught soon enough, a fire extinguisher may be enough to put it out and save property and lives. Make sure you have an ample number of fire extinguishers available through the building, which are designed for use in your particular industry (eg. if chemical-related fire then use specific extinguisher, etc.).

Fire extinguishers should be inspected regularly to keep them in good working condition.

Workers should be warned not to attempt to deal with a fire unless they have been trained to do so.  If you have been given permission to deal with a fire, consider these steps:

1. Follow your training procedures – never putting yourself at risk.
2. Always ensure there is an escape route between you and the fire.
3. If your clothes catch fire, drop to the floor and roll around. This will help to extinguish the flames. Your training should have covered this and you most probably know it as the ‘stop, drop and roll’.

Fire Evacuations

Always have an evacuation plan in place and let employees know where they should go outside the building once they are safe. Put together a plan that makes sure that everyone checks in with someone, so you know that all employees and visitors are accounted for – and have escaped safely and are not trapped inside.

Discovering a Fire

If you ever discover a fire follow these steps:

1. Remain calm.
2. Sound the fire alarm and/or alert all the occupants to evacuate.
3. Alert the fire brigade by dialling 000 (or your Security Staff – depending on what procedures are currently in place).
4. Leave the building immeidately via the closest escape route. Never use the lift (elevator).
5. Assemble with other staff at the evacuation assembly point.
6. Apon their arrival, inform the firefighters of the situation.

Evacuating the Building

Upon being told to evacuate, or hearing the fire alarm, follow these steps:

1. Remain calm.
2. Stop what you are doing. Leave the building immediately via the closest escape route. Never use the lift (elevator).
3. Walk briskly, and never turn back.
4. Never take anything with you.
5. Always follow the Fire Warden’s instructions.
6. Before opening any door feel the door and door handle. Never open a warm door as there could be a fire behind it.
7. If the door is hot when you feel it then take another route. A window might be an option.
8. If you encounter smoke during your evacuation, drop to the floor and crawl.
9. Close all doors behind you and all windows along the way, as fresh air feeds fire.
10. Assemble and remain at the evacuation assembly point. Do NOT return to the building until you are told by either the fire brigade or your immediate supervisor that it is safe.
11. Notify someone of any injuries you have sustained, as soon as possible.
12. Never cancel a fire alarm. Fire alarms should only be reset by those directed to do so.

If for some reason you are unable to get out of the building.

1. Alert others of your presence – via a phone, standing at a window, or by opening the window and hanging a sheet or something to alert fire fighters of your presence.
2. Keep a wet cloth over your mouth.
3. Stay as close to the ground as possible. Not only will you be able to see better, there is more oxygen.
4. Keep the door closed to stop smoke getting into the room.
5. Block up the cracks around the doors, if possible with wet cloths, to stop smoke getting in.
6. If there is a lot of smoke, keep your hand against the wall to guide you if you need to move about.
7. If your clothes catch fire, immediately drop to the floor and roll around. This will help to extinguish the flames.

Fires and evacuations are serious matters, therefore fire drills are essential for the safety of all staff (and visitors) of a workplace.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (4)

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  1. Paula Hudson says:

    Thank you very much. Veru helpful

  2. natasha says:

    very helpful for OHS report
    Thanks

  3. Njeru says:

    Actually this is what many people don’t know. The information contained is very helpful not only to basic first aiders but also for homes. Thank you.

  4. bassam zayed says:

    thank you very much for all of these valuable informations that can be helpfull for all.

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