It’s always good to beware that fire can break anywhere, even at your workplace. Each year many fires in different workplaces cause enormous property damage, injuries to workers, and in worst cases, death. Even with high-quality fire prevention and control plans in place, fire outbreaks in places of work remains a real hazard. Therefore, understanding fire safety options and implementing the right fire prevention and control plan is of paramount importance.
Always be prepared
Fire safety procedures are always based on your working environment having a functional fire alarm and an approved fire prevention and control plan. Keep in mind that some buildings have no fire alarm systems, detailed fire control plan or even a fire evacuation plan. Therefore, you should make it your business to analyze your business premises and install a robust fire safety plan and a fire evacuation plan as well.
Workers should always know
- The two closest exits from their workstations
- The nearest fire alarm switch and how to use it when necessary
- Whom to contact (and have the contact information) in case of fires in the workplace. They can call the Toronto Fire Service (9-1-1) or other reliable fire protection services.
- Their responsibilities in the fire. These responsibilities must be stated clearly in the fire safety plan.
Employers or business owners are responsible for…
- The design and implementation of a robust and approved fire safety plan
- Informing the workers about the fire safety plan and ensure they understand it
- Ensuring fire emergency plans and procedures are posted where workers can see them easily
- Organizing and conducting regular fire emergency drills with all the workers. This ensures that every worker knows what to do in case of a fire.
In the event of a fire
Sometimes, fires in the workplace occur even when there is a great fire prevention and control plan in place. The moment you discover a fire in your workplace, do the following.
- Activate the nearby fire alarm switch (or pull station)
- Leave your workstation or wherever you are and close the doors behind you if there is no one else in that area.
- Use the nearest exit and leave the building. Ensure everyone is out before you close all the doors.
- In case you encounter smoke, take an alternate exit or stairwell. Note that smoke and heat rise high up leaving cleaner air in the lower area near the floor. So, it’s wise to crawl under the smoke.
- Contact the fire service (9-1-1) no matter how small or big the fire seems. In case your employer prefers a specific fire protection service, and you have the contact information, call the company. Remember to give the right address, location of the building on fire, and your name as well.
Most employers provide portable fire extinguishers in the workplace. These units can only be used to put out small fires. For instance, if your workstation’s wastebasket catches fire, you can grab the nearest portable fire extinguisher and put the fire out. However, these units shouldn’t be used in fighting electrical or grease fires.
In case you haven’t been trained in the right use of portable extinguishers, you shouldn’t attempt to fight any fire. Even with the proper portable fire extinguisher training, never try to fight a fire that is:
- Large and spreading very fast
- Spreading fast and can block your exit route. Get at out of the building as soon as you can.
- You have never been trained in the right use of the available fire extinguishers
If you’ve been trained in the proper use of portable fire extinguishers and you opt to fight the fire, it’s wise first to call 9-1-1 (the fire service). Make sure all your colleagues and even the junior employees have evacuated the building or are leaving. Remember, portable fire extinguishers should be used to put out small fires that aren’t spreading too fast.
Workplace fire prevention
Unexpected explosions and workplace fires are caused by different risk factors such as improperly stored flammable materials, faulty gas lines, poor pipefitting, and more. Here are tips to help you keep fires at bay and ensure your workers are safe.
- Provide smoking areas. The employees shouldn’t throw shouldering cigarettes in wastebaskets or furniture.
- All electrical cables must regularly be inspected, and faulty ones replaced. Avoid octopus wiring, and extension cables shouldn’t run under rugs or across doorways.
- Always use CSA-approved electrical appliances and keep these appliances away from flammable materials.
Arson is among the top causes of fire in places of work. Thus, it’s wise to be aware of all building security plans and procedures. All cases of vandalism should be reported to the police. Lastly, always lock all doors after work.