Have you ever thought about what would happen to your business if a fire were to break out? In the United States, a fire breaks out once a minute. Somewhere in the country, a fire department responds every 24 seconds. You may have a fire strategy in place, but how good is it? Here are some tips on how to improve your fire strategy.
Train and Educate Employees
Everyone has to have a role. It’s how you make prevention effective. All prevention strategies may fail if one worker fails to report a fire hazard. Or worse—if they create one. By organizing training programs and building employee awareness, you can make sure everyone follows proper prevention procedures.
Ensure Your Building is Up to Code
You must consider every aspect of the building. That includes interior and exterior finishing materials, what the main structure is made of, type of roof, etc. The design of the building must fit its use. Consider the activities that take place within the buildings, as well as the occupancy. Ideally, your building should be noncombustible or fire-resistive.
Inspect the Building and Equipment
Fire-resistant materials become less effective as equipment and buildings wear down over time. Risk management is not up to par when that happens. Standards and codes help with minimizing fire risks, but ductwork standards alone do not guarantee good outcomes. So, how do you ensure maximum safety? By having a system of checks in place.
Certified inspectors, electricians, or contractors need to check the equipment every year. High-risk equipment like fire ducts may need to be inspected more frequently.
- Noncombustible: the primary materials of the building are not combustible. Hollow concrete blocks and unprotected steel are good examples.
- Fire-resistive: the building has the highest fire-resistance rating; such buildings are primarily made of protected steel or reinforced concrete
States update codes very often. Your risk management department should regularly check for changes. They are also responsible for ensuring compliance.
Consider the Hazards
It’s key to asses every possible fire hazard within your business. Such hazards are:
- Combustible dust
- Combustible residue
- Ductwork and duct isolation
- Flammable liquids and chemicals
- Hot embers and ashes
- Smokers’ material
- Electrical and cooking equipment
Designate Safety Officers
Yes, every employee must do their part, but someone needs to take direct responsibility. Designating an internal safety officer helps ensure compliance. Depending on the size of your business, you may need more than one safety officer.
They can be a line of communication between risk managers and frontline workers. Every safety officer must be well-trained in all prevention strategies. In case of fire, they must be responsible for certain tasks or workers.
Create an Evacuation Plan
According to law, you must have an evacuation plan. But, even the greatest plan is not enough to ensure safety. Every employee must know about it. Go through the plan together.
All employees and staff members must know what to do. But, you shouldn’t wait for a fire to break out to see if they are up to the challenge. Carry out drills. If possible, do it two times a year.
The plans need to include which exits to use in case of emergency. You should have at least two exits, in case one gets blocked. Never ignore fire alarms. Train your employees to respond immediately when an alarm goes off. Post the evacuation plan everywhere.
Make the necessary provisions for people with disabilities. Go through every possible scenario that may happen. For instance, if a fire happens, some visitors may be present. Think about how you will help visitors in such a situation.
Install a Fire Suppression System
In most buildings, it’s possible to install such a system. If you are running a restaurant, this is especially important. According to fire codes, only a professional may install a fire suppression system in a restaurant. And every restaurant needs to have one. Even if you are not obliged to, you should have a professional install a fire suppression system in your building.
Once you take care of everything, ask your fire department to come over and check everything out. Many fire departments offer free safety inspections, even when the law doesn’t command it. If you have missed something, it’s good to have a professional that can point it out.