Firearmed: How to Practice Fire Safety in the Workplace

Fire Safety at workPutting out fires. It’s an idiom used to describe a frustrating day at work…productivity lost addressing random problems that pop up. But what if you literally had a fire at your workplace? Would you know what to do? Where to go? How to keep your staff, co-workers and critical documents safe? On an average day, it’s estimated that over 200 fires occur in U.S. businesses. Annually, those blazes kill about 200 workers, injure thousands more and cost American companies over $2 billion. In mere minutes, lives can change forever—and everything you’ve worked for can go up in smoke. What’s the best advice for fighting a fire at work? Squelch the sparks before they ignite by making fire prevention part of your business emergency preparedness plan. Begin with a risk assessment that includes identifying potential hot spots in your place of business:
  • Are power cords and outlets in good working condition?
  • Are electrical circuits overloaded?
  • Kitchen appliances like coffee makers left on for long periods?
  • Are any chemicals or combustible materials stored properly?
  • Space heaters used to warm cubicles during chilly months?
  • What about holiday decorations like trees, lights and candles?
  • Is smoking on the premises entirely prohibited?
  • And more
While you’re taking note of the potential fire hazards in your workplace, also take inventory of the resources you might rely upon should a blaze break out. These may include but are not limited to:
  • Smoke detectors with fresh batteries
  • Pull alarms
  • Sprinkler system
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Emergency lighting
  • Method of alerting employees, such as a public address system
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • Evacuation routes/map posted
  • Emergency exits suitable for all, including wheelchair users
  • Clearly marked exits
  • Safe shutdown procedures for equipment (if need be and time allows)
  • A meeting point to account for all staff members
Of course, no resource is as useful as a calm, informed and well-prepared staff. This is where your business emergency preparedness plan really comes into play. Make your employees an important part of the planning process from day one. Ensure that every staff member has a copy of the plan and familiarizes himself with it. Determine who will lead your staff in evacuation efforts and confirm that each team member understands her role. Review, update and practice your plan regularly. When putting your plan in place, enlist the help of professionals to make sure you’ve covered all the bases. Your insurance agent will be able to advise you on securing adequate disaster coverage. Local firefighters often visit businesses to conduct inspections and give safety presentations. And don’t forget to pre-select a reputable disaster cleaning and restoration specialist that provides such services as water extraction, structural and contents drying, and soot and odor removal, as well as pre-loss inventory of your salvageable and non-salvageable items. A final thought: With any workplace or residential fire, the top priority is ensuring that everyone can reach a safe place quickly. Putting out the fire is always secondary because the greatest danger is not the blaze itself, but being rapidly overcome by the heat and smoke caused by it. By taking these tips to heart…and planning ahead…hopefully the only workplace fires you’ll encounter are the ones you can put out with a quick email and another jolt of coffee. Want to learn more about developing a workplace disaster plan? Download our free e-book, Emergency Preparedness: It’s Your Business—Five Tips to Kick-Start Your Company’s Disaster Plan. LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in complete fire restorationwater damage restoration, and repairs from smoke, wind, and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit or call 1-888-874-7066. Image: Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


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