Having a fire plan in place is critical for any business. Planning the right evacuation route(s), understanding each person’s role in the scenario, and eliminating any other points of confusion is imperative for handling a fire situation as safely as possible. Also necessary in your plan is an outline and collective understanding of how each employee can prevent fires from occurring in the first place, as well as prevent potential hazards during an evacuation. Below is a sampling of key measures:
- Designate a safety officer. No matter how many employees your business has, or how often the public comes into your workplace, every business needs a designated safety officer. This person will be responsible for putting together an escape route and meeting place for employees; their job should also be to maintain fire prevention efforts.
- In larger buildings, post a fire evacuation plan in several spots around the workplace. Always use the stairs. Businesses with disabled employees should develop a detailed evacuation for those employees needing additional assistance in an emergency.
- Make sure your employees know what to do if there’s a fire, including calling 911 immediately. Conduct a fire drill at least once a year to keep employees aware of fire safety protocol in the workplace.
- Make sure to include clients or customers in your fire escape plans. How will you usher them out safely? How will you communicate to them where to go? Consider their perspective in such a situation.
- Sprinkler systems are cost effective and the best way to fight the spread of a fire in a business with properly installed and maintained systems.
- Leave some room behind appliances that heat up, like coffee machines and computers, to allow them to cool down. Keep all of your business appliances away from combustible materials, like paper or cloth. If possible, unplug these appliances at the end of the day as most business fires occur after typical operating hours.
- If you allow smoking in your business, employees and customers should only smoke in designated areas outside of the building. Make sure you have large ashtrays that don’t easily tip over, and empty them into fireproof containers.
- Make sure that mechanical rooms are not used for storage, and make sure nothing flammable is ever stored near a furnace.
- Remove and properly dispose of any flammable or hazardous materials from storerooms; check with your local municipality for proper disposal.
- Make sure stairwells aren’t used for storage and are easily passable.
- Arson is a considerable danger for all businesses, and something that most people don’t consider. Make sure doors are locked when the business is closed, and check that your area is free of combustible materials.
*This blog was originally published to Merchants’ website October 10th, 2019.