When a fire strikes a business, the consequences can be devastating. From 2011 to 2020, there was a reported 22 percent increase in nonresidential fires. That data should remind us that we’re all susceptible to an emergency. And though some fires are unavoidable, you can prevent others with a good prevention and protection strategy.
Improving Your Fire Protection Strategy
Keeping your business or facility safe means putting systems in place to reduce risk and ensuring everyone (inside and outside of the building) knows their role when emergencies occur. Here are six ways to improve your fire protection strategy:
Regularly Train Staff
Educating employees is a critical step in reducing the risk of fire. Plan ongoing fire safety training sessions for employees in your building, which should cover the following:
- Info on your alarm system
- Each person’s role in an evacuation
- Exits to use
- Where to meet outside of the building
- How to use fire extinguishers
In many cases, employees are the first line of defense against fires. Your team should also receive regular reminders to do the following:
- Watch out for excessive use of extension cords and power strips;
- Keep flammable materials away from electrical equipment;
- Turn off unattended portable heaters;
- Keep equipment and the workplace well-ventilated, clean, and dry;
- Make sure windows can open or screens are removable and;
- Remove obstacles that block exits.
Focus on Risk Reduction
According to the U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA, the leading causes of office and store fires are:
- Electrical malfunction
- Careless or unintentional causes
Depending on your industry, these five risks may be a part of your daily routine! Recognizing where risks are, and dedicating specific resources to those areas, can help ensure you’re ready for any emergency.
Double-Down on Emergency Preparation
Modern fire codes and building designs protect many offices and stores from potential fire damage. Using some of the best practices for workplace fire safety, here are a few recommendations for employers to follow:
- Make sure smoke alarms and fire sprinklers function correctly;
- Publish fire escape plans on every floor of a building;
- Conduct fire safety training;
- Conduct periodic emergency drills and;
- Inspect escapes and fire ladders.
Inspect Suppression Systems
If a fire breaks out, fire sprinklers, 95% of the time, contain it in the room of origin. When fire sprinklers fail, it’s usually because of poor maintenance or preventable issues, like a closed control valve. Regularly test and inspect your fire sprinklers, and have a professional inspect them once a year.
NFPA requirements call for monthly inspections of fire extinguishers. They also need maintenance performed by a certified person according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Use Confinement Strategies
Containing fire to one room saves lives and reduces damage. Passive fire protection methods can block or delay smoke and fire from moving between rooms and floors. These include:
- Building fire barriers and interior walls to resist fire for two to three hours;
- Using fire-rated doors or windows and inspecting them annually and;
- Ensuring your building complies with regulations for HVAC systems that minimize the spread of fire and smoke.
Some of the most tragic commercial fires caused high casualties because employees could not get out quickly. Make sure your facility follows the guidelines for emergency exits:
- A workplace should have at least two exit routes. These should be large enough to accommodate the number of people using them.
- Exits should be in different areas of the building in case fire or smoke blocks one of them.
- Keep exit routes free of flammable furnishings or hazardous materials and unobstructed by materials or supplies.
- Post clear signs along the exit route.
- Exit route doors should unlock from the inside.
Improving Your Fire Protection Strategy
Reducing the fire risk in your workplace takes planning, inspections, and regular maintenance. With a good fire protection strategy, you can protect your business from fire or minimize damage if it occurs. If you want to learn more about how you can create an emergency-readiness plan or schedule a fire sprinkler inspection, reach out to our A&A Fire Protection Services team today.