Fire is one of nature’s deadliest forces, so it’s imperative that everyone is properly trained in fire safety procedures both at home and at the workplace. While fire detectors will alert you to a fire and fire extinguishers can suppress small fires, nothing is more important than having a practical fire escape plan that everyone is familiar with. Being able to safely evacuate your home or office is the most important aspect of fire safety training.
Fire safety training and test evacuations should be conducted at your workplace regularly to prepare you what you need to do in the event of a fire. While it may seem bothersome at the time, fire safety drills are very important and may indeed save your life and the lives of others. Being caught in the middle of a life-threatening situation can cause people to become irrational and chaotic, so knowing exactly what to do when confronted with a fire in the workplace is critical.
Of course, each working environment has different threats and hazards so it’s likely that your workplace will have individualised fire safety procedures. Despite this, the following guideline aims to provide a general overview of the steps you should take if you discover a fire at your workplace.
Discovering a Fire
If you discover a fire at your workplace, the first and most important thing to remember is to stay calm and think rationally about the steps you need to take overcome the situation. Alerting your colleagues to the fire is the first thing you should do, so if a fire detector hasn’t already sounded, activate the nearest fire alarm and alert everyone in the immediate area.
The next thing you need to do is to alert the Fire Department immediately. Time is vital when dealing with a fire so if you can’t do it straight away, get somebody else to do it. Take a look around the room where the fire has ignited to assess whether any equipment could cause major safety issues if left running during the fire. If so, shut the equipment down if it’s safe to do so.
If the fire is still small after taking these steps (no larger than a floor bin), then you may be able to extinguish the fire with the correct fire extinguisher, however only attempt to do this if you’ve been trained in how to properly use a fire extinguisher and you have a safe escape route behind you. The type of fire will determine what type of fire extinguisher you’ll need to use, so if you’re unsure then leave the fire untouched and shut the door to the room. If for whatever reason, the fire extinguisher has not been effective or other safety issues prevent you from using the fire extinguisher, don’t waste any further time and evacuate the building immediately.
All occupants of the building should be aware of the various evacuation routes detailed in the fire escape plan. The fire escape plan includes at least two ways to evacuate from every room of the building in case one way has been blocked by the fire. All escape routes should be clearly marked, and it’s important that the elderly and impaired are prioritised when evacuating. All escape routes should never have any obstacles that would make it more difficult for occupants to evacuate.
Once the fire alarm has been activated, the elevators in the building will stop working so you must always use the stairs to evacuate from a fire. When using a fire door as an escape route, never leave the fire door open as they are designed to prevent toxic smoke from spreading throughout the building. In addition to this, leaving a fire door open will only give the fire more oxygen to breathe, making the fire intensify and spread faster. Once you have evacuated the building, make your way to the designated assembly point detailed in the fire escape plan.
Once you’ve evacuated, never return inside a burning building even if you believe that someone is still trapped inside. The Fire Department will be on their way at this point, so the best thing you can do is inform the Fire Department once they’ve arrived. Never try to be a hero, it will only put your life and the lives of others at risk.
As you can see from this guide, ensuring that your fire detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working condition is paramount. Being able to subdue a small fire with a fire extinguisher before it destroys an entire building is always the better option, only if it’s safe to do so of course. It’s very important that you test your fire detectors every month and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in regards to the service of your fire extinguishers. If you have any questions about your fire detectors or fire extinguishers, or you’d like to organise some fire safety training for your staff, get in touch with King Fire Protection Solutions: https://www.kingfire.com.au/