When starting a business, you likely took steps to make sure your financing, business plan, insurance, and product/services were all laid out and prepared.
But did you include fire safety on that list?
Fire safety for businesses is often overlooked in lieu of the million other details that business owners must manage every day. But a lack of fire safety planning for your business could mean leaving it liable to damages and lawsuits if a fire were to occur.
Keep reading for our guide to fire safety for businesses!
1. Know the Risks and Obligations
Fire departments respond to over 3,000 fires in office buildings annually. Businesses must meet certain fire safety codes and regulations. Make sure you're up to date and aware of the local and federal codes regarding the place you do business in and your industry.
The National Fire Protection Association is a great place to start, and they offer a handbook on safety codes for businesses. If you can schedule a visit with a local fire marshall, you'll be able to ask questions and get insights to fire risks you might not have thought of.
2. Have Fire Protection Equipment
Fires are unpredictable and happen despite the best prevention efforts. Making sure your business is equipped with every available fire protection device is the best way to know that your business and employees will be safe in the event of a fire.
Many commercial buildings are required to have a sprinkler system to be up to code. If the code doesn't require it, you might want to consider putting one in yourself. This is considered a primary fire protection system.
However, in buildings with stored products, electronics, and paper materials, the damage from a sprinkler system can be almost as catastrophic. Combine sprinkler systems with secondary systems that can help contain fires before a sprinkler is necessary.
Multipurpose extinguishers that can put out small fires without ruining electronics or products are your best bet. Automatic fire extinguishers that don't need prior training to use are even better for workplaces where employee turnover happens.
Check out the benefits of an automatic fire extinguisher like the AFG Fireball compared to traditional extinguishers.
Distribute emergency kits to employees in the event a fire does occur. Each kit should include bottled water, a flashlight, and a mask to combat smoke inhalation.
Smoke and CO2 Detectors
Equip every floor and room with split sensor detectors that have a wide range and loud decibel alarm. Ensure that both private areas like bathrooms and storage rooms and public spaces have their own detectors.
3. Practice Fire Safety WIth Employees
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and we agree. You may not be able to stop a fire from breaking out, but you can minimize risk and damages by taking time to plan and prepare for an emergency situation with your staff.
Have a Fire Plan
Just like you have at home with your kids, create and practice a fire safety plan with your employees. Make sure all employees know what to do in case of fire. Designate individuals within the plan who can implement safety checks. At least once a year, conduct fire drills to make sure everyone knows the plan.
Select a Safety Officer
Having an individual to head up fire safety means nothing will slip through the cracks. This person will create a fire safety plan, escape plans and routes, and work to obtain and maintain fire safety equipment. In other words, designate fire safety to an individual who can ensure continued fire safety measures.
Monitor Work Spaces
It's easy in the day to day hustle to allow equipment and storage items to build up and clutter aisles and workspaces, but clutter can be a big problem in the event of a fire. Keep walkways clear and fire doors unblocked.
You'll also want to regularly check common areas to make sure appliances are maintained. It's easy for food to build up in a microwave, for instance, and cause a fire to start.
Regularly Check Wiring and Systems
Powerbars and cords are everywhere in office settings, so conduct regular checks to make sure they are in good shape. Make sure employees have access to the power they need without cords running everywhere and overloading circuitry.
Create an Evacuation Plan
Make sure your safety officer has created a solid evacuation plan for employees in the event of a fire. Make sure elevators aren't included in the plan, as these stop working during a fire.
Make sure the plan includes instructions for employees with disabilities.
Offer First Aid Training
If you really want to go the extra mile to make sure your employees are safe, offer continued first aid and emergency training to your staff.
General first aid training, CPR and specific fire safety training are all available for businesses. If a fire does occur at your business, having several trained first responders who can help make sure people are evacuated and cared for in the event of a fire can radically cut down on injuries and damages.
Fire Safety For Businesses - Keeping Your Business Safe
It isn't enough to simply have fire insurance for your business - you need a fire safety plan, informed employees, and fire safety equipment.
Fire safety for businesses doesn't have to be hard, however. Select a fire safety officer from your employees who can help you stay on top of fire safety issues.
And remember - the AFG Fireball can put a stop to office fires before they become a huge problem. Check out the rest of this site or contact us to learn more about why the Fireball should be part of the fire safety plan for your business!