Fire escape routes
Every workplace needs to have a clear and safe fire escape route. A diagram of the office should be drawn up, highlighting the locations of fire escapes as well as the best escape routes. Note that elevators shouldn’t be a part of your emergency escape plans. A meeting zone outside the building should be designated where everyone can assemble. Managers should be assigned to perform headcounts in this meeting zone. Finally, don’t forget to carry out regular fire drills so your employees become familiar with the evacuation routes and procedure.
Automatic sprinklers are highly effective at eliminating fires in large office spaces. They are triggered by extreme heat and so are quick at detecting fires, ensuring that staff can evacuate safely. Sprinkler systems can also activate a remote alarm which notifies the local fire services. As well as being highly reliable (with an estimated success rate of over 95%), sprinklers also have the benefit of being relatively cheap to maintain. Sprinklers should not be overlooked!
If a fire develops in the workplace, generally the best course of action would be to evacuate the building and let the emergency services deal with it. However, if only a small fire breaks out you should be able to eliminate it with an extinguisher. Ensure that the extinguishers are within easy reach and that different ones are available for different types of fire. Offices tend to be packed with electrical equipment such as computers and monitors – if these catch fire your best option is a CO2 extinguisher. For fires involving solid materials such as fabric, wood or paper, use a water fire extinguisher. Foam extinguishers can protect against material fires as well as fires involving flammable liquids.
Fire blankets are often overlooked in the home, but in offices they are essential due to their many uses. They are best kept in workplace kitchens to combat small fires that may break out, and can sometimes save you from having to use an extinguisher. In the event of someone catching fire, you can wrap the blanket around them and get them to roll on the floor to extinguish the flames. Fire blankets can also be used as a protective shield during an escape where flames are in the way.
The importance of a simple fire exit sign should not be underestimated. Office staff may be familiar with the workplace layout, but during a fire it can be easy to forget due to panic, especially in large multi-storey office buildings. The arrows on fire exit signs show the quickest way to safety and could prevent your employees from being trapped inside the building. If your office does not have emergency lighting installed, luminescent exit signs should be used. Remember, it is also mandatory to have signs placed on top of fire exit doors.
This blog post was written by Hassan Ali who works for Ardent, a UK based company who are specialists in fire suppression systems.