According to the Occupational Safety & health Administration (OSHA) website, 3 percent of workplace fatalities in 2007 were a result of fires and explosions. Fire safety and prevention is a very serious issue in any business space, especially when you consider the dangers that could be lurking around your office space. OSHA regulates workplace fire safety standards for employees and in office spaces. Fires can happen to anyone, as the blazes burning rampant and unchecked in Colorado have recently reminded us. To deal with such possibilities, there are certain fire protection products that every business should employ in their workplace safety regimen.
1. Fire Exits
The safety of your employees is, without question, your number one priority in the event of a fire. You must have a plan in place that includes more than one escape route. If the fire is blocking the path to the door, employees must have a fire exit to utilize. These separately built exits are an important aspect of safety for your employees and must be clearly marked and free of any obstacles. These exits should be equipped with alarms that will alert other members of the office building of an emergency.
2. Escape Ladders
Sometimes fire exits and stairwells are blocked by the fire and you must ensure your employees have another means of escape. Emergency escape ladders are a necessary precaution if your office space is any taller than one story. A good ladder should be able to support a 1,000 pound load and have standoffs that push the ladder away from the building and make it easier to climb down to safety. For a two-story building, you would select a 12-15 foot ladder. If you have three floors, a 25-foot emergency escape ladder is the better choice.
3. Portable Fire Extinguishers
Every building should have the appropriate number of fire extinguishers available. Many office fires are small and can be confined to a small area. If a small fire should break out, having the proper firefighting equipment and training can quickly put the fire out. Only employees trained in fire hazards should ever use the fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers are assigned an A, B or C-rating, which tells you what types of fires that they are good at getting under control.
Business parks and small offices must have an appropriate mix of the extinguishers based on their fire hazards. The amount and types of fire extinguishers your space will have, depends upon the size and layout of your office.
4. Smoke Alarms
The main purpose of a smoke alarm is to give you warning of the possibility of a very dangerous situation. Smoke alarms should be located near the top of the wall or on the ceiling. These alarms require regular maintenance and should be tested regularly to ensure top performance.
5. Fire Suppression Systems
Fire suppression systems can range from a simple sprinkler system to an extensive warehouse system. Office buildings typically only require a sprinkler system that will be able to handle electrical and less invasive fires. Office warehouses housing heavy machinery require a more extensive suppression system that can control equipment fires. For more information on the type of suppression system that may be right for your company, visit the NFPA for regulations.
Material things can be replaced, but lives can’t. Having fire protection products like smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and proper emergency exits can help protect you from tragedy. Keeping up-to-date with fire regulations and implementing all of these products and tools in your office space is a step in the right direction. Take a tip from OSHA and take the time to develop a strategy to fight fire in your business.
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