Between 2014 and 2018, nearly 19,000 commercial office buildings caught fire every year, resulting in over $800 million in annual property loss. An average of 15 people died in fires each year, with nearly 300 injured. Office fires cost dollars and lives.
With planning and preparation, you can minimize damage and risk to employees in case of fire. Even better, you may be able to prevent fires before they start.
Read on for six fire safety tips that will help you protect your buildings and your employees.
1. Minimize Fire Hazards
30.6 % of fires are caused by cooking accidents. If you have kitchens in your residential building, make sure stoves and grills are surrounded by a 3-foot safety zone. Plug microwave ovens and other appliances into walls instead of extension cords.
Electrical and lighting malfunctions account for another 12% of fires. To prevent electrical fires, avoid putting cords under rugs or carpets, or where they can be damaged by furniture. Inspect cords and outlets for damage, and unplug appliances when not in use.
2. Educate Employees During Fire Safety Month
During October, the U.S. Fire Administration posts a list of fire safety tips, such as these:
- A small flame can become a major fire in less than 30 seconds, so escape quickly
- Fire and smoke can make a room pitch black and hard to navigate, so practice escape routes
- Practice opening any windows and doors needed for escape, such as those with quick-release bars
Share these October fire safety month tips with your employees to help them prepare mentally for emergencies.
3. Appoint a Safety Officer
Every office, no matter how small, should have a safety officer. This person should plan escape routes and meeting places, post maps, and schedule fire drills. Make sure employees know who the safety officer is and that the safety officer will take charge during emergencies.
During an emergency, the safety officer should contact the fire department, count employees at the meeting place to find out who has evacuated safely, and assist emergency personnel.
4. Post Important Information
In an emergency, people can’t always remember details. Put up fire escape maps with important information such as your office’s address, name, and phone number. Post signs pointing to nearby fire extinguishers, especially in fire-prone areas such as the kitchen.
The safety officer should keep a list of contact information for employees.
5. Hold Fire Drills
People get scared and confused during emergencies. Hold repeated drills to help employees recognize the sound of the fire alarms, practice moving quickly and navigating escape routes. You may also want to show employees how to find and use the fire extinguishers.
6. Keep Escape Routes Open
Make sure nothing blocks the emergency escape routes. Chairs, boxes, equipment, and plants should all be kept well away from access points. Even crumpled paper lying on the floor can slow down evacuees, and also create additional fire hazards.
Check less-frequently used routes as well. Look for clutter in emergency stairwells, or for doors that have been blocked.
Share These Fire Safety Tips
Everybody in the office has a role in preventing fires and escaping emergency situations, so make sure everybody in the office knows about procedures, plans, fire alarms, and fire hazards.
If you need more information about fire alarms and other fire safety equipment, contact us. We’ll help you prepare your office for the next emergency.