Not every workplace faces the risk of earthquakes or and hurricanes, but fire is a hazard threatening everyone everywhere.
The best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about workplace fires—how they start, how to stop them, and how to keep everyone safe if they break out.
Understand that fires can start in many ways, from waste paper baskets to malfunctioning printers. And once they start, they can spread extremely fast.
Fire safety is one of the most critical safety protocols in every workplace. Once your office develops a fire safety plan, memorize it like your life depends on it—because it could.
Here are the four best tips for workplace fire safety training.
1. Identify Fire Hazards
First, walk around the workplace and try and identify potential fire hazards. Three elements you need to always keep your eye out for are:
If you have heat in a stove, you’re fine. If you have fuel behind the building in a propane tank and just fuel, you’re also fine. But once you start mixing fuel, heat, and oxygen, you’ve got trouble on your hands.
Wood, paper, and trash are also ready-made kindling. Make sure to take the trash out to a secure, separate location as often as you can.
The most recent statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration logged 1,291,500 fires in 2019, with just over 3,700 deaths. That’s around one fire breaking out every 24 seconds, with a fatality every 144 minutes.
Knowing the causes of fire and workplace hazards is a critical part of preventing a workplace fatality.
2. Familiarize Yourself with the Fire Extinguisher
Every principal room in your workplace should either have an extinguisher or be within sight of one. If you can’t run and grab an extinguisher from where you’re sitting, wherever you’re sitting, you need to bring in and install a new extinguisher.
Make sure that all your employees go through training on how to use extinguishers. They may seem easy to pick up and discharge, but there’s more than meets the eye.
Call in a fire marshall to explain best practices around extinguishers. They get paid to do it for the benefit of the community, and it will make their jobs easier down the line.
3. Know Your Escape Plan and Route
Mapping an escape plan for all employees to follow is vital should a fire break out. All exits should be clearly marked, and employees who work in all corners of the workplace should be on the same page about an exit strategy.
It’s crucial that everyone knows not to touch doorknobs too readily. Flames burning on the other side may make them burn hot to the touch—as you move through the building, test knobs before pulling on them, and close doors behind you.
4. Mandate Fire Drills
Once you have your escape plan charted, your fire extinguishers properly placed and marked, and your fire hazards identified, you need to practice your preparation.
Gather all your employees for a bit of activity time after lunch (call in some pizza—they’ll be more receptive if they’re well-fed). Ensure everyone is on the same page about how to move through the building in case of a fire, what number to call and who is being deputized to call, and where to meet outside the building.
Fire drills save lives, seriously. And there are lots of resources out there for how to put great ones together.
Fire Safety Today
Fires are entirely preventable. Loss of life and injury do not need to happen when fires break out inside nonresidential buildings like workplaces.
Remember your evacuation plan, make sure not to panic, look out for your friends and coworkers, and don’t forget the extinguisher! The best defense employers can take against blazes breaking out in their workplaces is making sure staff is fully prepared, trained, and on the same page about safety protocols.
When you work as a team, you drastically reduce the risk of anyone getting hurt as you get to safety.