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When you consider the property loss that comes from a commercial fire, the dollar amount in damages plus lost work days can seem devastating. But that pales in comparison to the potential injury to or loss of your most valuable asset: your people. A fire safety plan helps prevent injury, saves lives, and it might also help protect your property. If you don’t already have one, it’s time to take action.
#1: Assess Your Building and its Hazards
The first step in creating an effective fire safety plan is to go over the property with a fine-tooth comb and look for hazards. Note areas where fire could break out, and also, locate spots where a person could become trapped.
Kitchens have coffee pots, and they’re a possible hazard if accidentally left on. So are overloaded outlets, outdated surge protectors, and plumbing lines that might leak into electrical wiring. Certain chemicals are another potential fire hazard.
This part of the job might go better with the help of your local fire marshal. In most cities, they offer an inspection for low cost or for free. And, in many cities, the inspection is already a requirement. Take advantage of this service and learn everything that you can about your business.
#2: Inspect Smoke Detectors
Your building probably has smoke detectors, but you should test them and check the batteries every month. That’s true — even if they’re hardwired. In the event of a power outage, the battery backup will keep them working.
If you have CO2 detectors, checking them only tells you if the batteries in the alarm work. A routine test doesn’t reveal whether they can detect CO2, but you can buy a test kit at most home improvement centers that will.
When in doubt, install more detectors. If yours are older, replacing them with newer, more effective ones makes your whole business safer. And, if you only have a few, a few more can only help. Focus on areas where employees might have a difficult time hearing the alarm from the next closest one.
If you’re like most businesses, your fire extinguisher is mounted on a wall and probably covered in dust. Did you know that they can expire? When was the last time you tested it? Have you ever tested it? If not, now’s the time.
Allstate Insurance says you should test fire extinguishers every month. Although it only takes a moment, it can save employees and the building that they work in. First, check the seals. There’s a tamper-evident seal near the handle, and it should be unbroken.
Next, check the pressure. There’s a gauge (also located near the handle), and it indicates whether the pressure is good or too low. And finally, test the extinguisher if yours has a test button. Press it, and check the pressure reading on the dial.
#4: Make a Fire Exit Plan and Host Surprise Drills
You probably remember filing outdoors during fire drills when you were in school. But they’re just as important for adults at work as they are for kids. If your business doesn’t have a fire evacuation plan, you need one. And, if you don’t do fire drills, you need those, too.
What’s the safest and most direct route from the building from every single point inside? And what’s the backup plan in case the usual route is impassible? Your evacuation plan should be posted throughout the building where all can see, and it should have alternatives.
According to the Department of Occupational Health and Safety, there’s one big problem with fire drills: adults almost never take them seriously — at least not when they’re planned. So, shake up the building a bit, and adopt a habit of random drills. To really test employees, set up blocks in the usual paths to see whether they know their alternatives.
You don’t think about fire safety every day. With good equipment and an equally good plan, you don’t have to. The key is making your business as safe as it can be, and then maintaining that safety through inspections and drills.
Hopefully, a fire will never happen where you work. But, in case it does, make sure you always wear the recommended heat-resistant gloves — especially when you’re working near the areas with the highest risk.
See how much of a difference our heat-resistant gloves will make in your workplace: request your free sample pair today!
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