How to Lower Fire Risks in Your Business
As a business owner, you never want to think about what would happen if a fire or flood should strike. A fire can cause severe damage to business equipment, materials, and structures. As a business owner, focusing on fire risk assessment, fire prevention, and staff education can help reduce your chance of fire and smoke damage. Here are some tips to help prevent fires in your business.
The first thing is to look around your business and find potential fire hazards. The National Fire Protection Association offers handbooks and other publications on the fire safety code in place for businesses. If your local government offers it, a visit from a fire marshal is a great step for your fire prevention plan. If a marshal visit isn't available, ask for workplace fire risk assessment guidance from your building's property manager.
Having the proper fire protection equipment in your business is essential to prevent fires. Automatic sprinkler systems are a great way to prevent fires from causing too much damage and will provide primary fire protection. Standard fire safety practices call for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers on every floor. There’s more than one type of smoke detector, so be sure and do your research to know what type is best for your business. All employees should be aware of the locations of fire extinguishers on each floor in case they should need access to one. The most recommended type of extinguisher is a multipurpose extinguisher, which will douse most small fires with ease without shorting out your electronics. It is also recommended you equip your employees with an emergency kit stocked with items like bottled water, a flashlight, and an escape mask to fight against smoke inhalation in case of a fire.
Not only are your employees part of your team, they’re also essential assets to your business. You want to ensure their safety as best as you can, and that includes in the event of a fire. Make sure your employees know what to do if there's a fire, including calling 911 immediately. Conduct a fire drill at least once a year to keep employees aware of your workplace fire safety protocol. Designate a person as your office’s fire prevention officer. Their duties will include composing escape routes and meeting points for employees, as well as keeping all your safety plans, equipment, and information updated. If your office doesn’t have one, installing a sprinkler system is cost effective and the best way to fight the spread of a fire in a business. Properly installed and maintained systems are 95% effective according to the National Fire Protection Association in stopping and preventing fires. Be sure to leave some room behind appliances that heat up, like coffee machines and computers, to allow them to cool down. Keep all your business appliances away from combustible materials, like paper or cloth. If possible, unplug these appliances at the end of the day as most business fires occur after typical operating hours. Make sure to check cords on appliances and other electronic devices and replace them as needed. Use one extension cord per outlet and follow manufacturer recommendations for maximum wattage when using power strips. Avoid “octopus wiring,” when wires and plugs clutter around one outlet, as it could lead to an overload. In larger buildings, post a fire evacuation plan in several spots around the workplace. Never include elevators in an evacuation plan; always use the stairs. Businesses with disabled employees should develop a detailed evacuation for those employees needing additional assistance in an emergency. In case of fire injuries, your employees should be familiar with the location of the first-aid kit, which should be kept where possible hazards can occur most, such as in the kitchen.
While fire prevention can help cut down your risk of fire, it doesn’t mean they still can’t strike any time. If your business should have a fire strike, trust the restoration professionals at SERVPRO of Baxter, Boone, Fulton, & Marion Counties. We’ll make it “Like it never even happened.”