Every workplace needs fire protection to avoid catastrophic financial losses and keep workers and customers safe. Some high-level fire safety procedures for a business include activating the nearest fire alarm, exiting the building and notifying the appropriate authorities. This process must be efficient to trigger a swift emergency response, which is why a business fire protection system is an important investment.
More than 3,000 fires occur at office buildings in the United States annually, causing millions of dollars in property damage, not to mention potential injuries to the people there. Every fire cannot be prevented, but businesses can prepare for emergencies by implementing fire protection systems, which include smoke and heat detectors, fire alarms, fire exits, sprinklers and a control panel to expedite warnings and notifications.
Fire Prevention vs. Fire Protection
Unlike fire protection for a business, which consists of the alarms and sprinklers that are triggered after a fire has broken out, fire prevention measures are the proactive efforts that stop a fire from happening in the first place. Fire prevention includes actions such as improving flammable material storage and limiting the use of personal space heaters, whereas fire protection relies on devices such as smoke detectors and control panels. Implementing a combination of prevention and protection measures is necessary to create a well-rounded safety plan.
3 Ways To Improve Fire Safety in the Workplace
The leading causes of office and retail store fires are cooking and electrical malfunctions, but no location in a business should be considered hazard-free. When a fire breaks out in a populated commercial property worth millions of dollars, the outcome can be disastrous. That is why business fire protection and prevention must be robust enough to support any size property with any number of occupants.
1. Invest in Fire Protection Services
Local and state codes determine which fire alarm systems are required for businesses. These standards can mandate a network of smoke detectors, heat sensors and warning devices plus a fire panel. A business should consider adding a fire panel even if it is not required because this device can sound alarms within seconds of smoke or heat detection. With a control system, warnings can be activated by a manual pull switch or automated by detectors, and the business’ alarm system can be monitored remotely during off-hours. All of these features, which assist with notifying people inside the building as well as emergency responders, can help minimize damage.
2. Follow Fire Safety Tips
A safe work environment requires diligence on everyone’s part to watch for potential hazards and notify management of issues before they cause a fire. Employers and staff should follow these fire safety tips for prevention and protection during emergencies:
- Eliminate overloaded electrical outlets and discontinue using equipment and appliances with damaged electrical cords and cables
- Keep combustibles away from electrical equipment and heat sources
- Never leave portable heaters or cooking appliances unattended while in use
- Be familiar with fire escape plans and know where fire exits and extinguishers are located
- Clear walkways of trip hazards and debris
- Train managers to use the alarm control panel features to sound facility warnings or call for help
3. Prepare for Emergencies
A commercial property must meet specific fire safety requirements for a business, from using fire alarms to marking evacuation routes clearly. Appointing an individual or team to oversee the organization’s prevention and protection measures should be a company’s first step to improving workplace safety. The fire safety committee can help facilitate improvements and routine safety tasks, including:
- Eliminating or reducing fire risks in areas where cooking appliances, power strips, lighting or heaters might pose a hazard
- Verifying compliance with industry-specific regulations for flammable materials storage, on-site fire extinguishers and other safety equipment
- Researching fire protection systems and control panels that improve emergency response times
- Developing a fire safety plan that includes hazards, warnings, evacuation procedures and the personnel responsible for emergency tasks
- Scheduling alarm and detector testing according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
- Coordinating employee training for using fire extinguishers and evacuation procedures
Any situation that puts a company out of business even temporarily is a loss for the owner, employees, customers and the community. Visit FTC.net/business to see how the right security and fire services can keep any size office or municipal building running safely.