PROVIDING LIFE SAVINGS SOLUTIONS SINCE 2009

Fire Safety Threats

Ella LaChance

Fire Safety Threats

Most fires are preventable. Those responsible for workplaces and other buildings to which the public have access can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviours and procedures.

Fires need three things to start – a source of ignition (heat), a source of fuel (something that burns) and oxygen:

  1. sources of ignition include heaters, lighting, naked flames, electrical equipment, smokers’ materials (cigarettes, matches etc), and anything else that can get very hot or cause sparks
  2. sources of fuel include wood, paper, plastic, rubber or foam, loose packaging materials, waste rubbish and furniture
  3. sources of oxygen include the air around us

 

What do I have to do?

Employers (and/or building owners or occupiers) must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise.

Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimized the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.

To help prevent fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, ie sources of ignition (heat or sparks) and substances that burn, and the people who may be at risk.

Once you have identified the risks, you can take appropriate action to control them. Consider whether you can avoid them altogether or, if this is not possible, how you can reduce the risks and manage them. Also consider how you will protect people if there is a fire.

  • Carry out a fire safety risk assessment
  • Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart
  • Avoid accidental fires, eg make sure heaters cannot be knocked over
  • Ensure good housekeeping at all times, eg avoid build-up of rubbish that could burn
  • Consider how to detect fires and how to warn people quickly if they start, eg installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells
  • Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for putting a fire out quickly
  • Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed at all times
  • Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills
  • Review and update your risk assessment regularly.

 

 

 

HOW FAST DOES FIRE MOVE

Ella LaChance

Fires can happen anywhere. A fire in a large building creates an enormous risk to everyone. Other reasons for evacuating buildings include natural gas leaks, earthquakes, hazardous material spills and storms. Knowing what to do is the key to surviving a fire emergency. Conducting regular fire drills will give you the knowledge and confidence to escape a fire safely. There are two steps for a good evacuation program – planning and practice.

Most home and business fires start within the building. For example, a smoldering cigarette dropped into a trash can full of paper could ignite into flames. If the fire is not extinguished while in this early phase, it could spread throughout the structure.

Growth and Speed of Fire

The following is a timeline of an actual 2-story house fire. It will show you just how fast fire spreads:

1:30 Fire ignites and grows rapidly.
1:04 From first flame, fire spreads and smoke begins to fill room.
1:35 Smoke layer descends rapidly, temperature exceeds 190°F.
1:50 Smoke detector at foot of stairs alarms. Still time to get out.
2:30 Temperature above couch over 400°F.
2:48 Smoke pours into other rooms.
3:03 Temperature three feet above floor in room of origin is over 500°F. (No one could survive.)
3:20 Upstairs hall filled with smoke – Escape more difficult.
3:41 FLASHOVER – Energy in room of origin ignites everything. Temperature is 1400°F.
3:50 Two minutes after smoke detectors sounds, 2nd exit is only way out.
4:33 Flames just now visible from exterior of house – first evidence of fire from outside.

Less than five minutes is all it took. This leaves you very little time to sit around and think about what you are going to do. Fire does not sit around and wait for you to decide. When a fire breaks out in your home, have a plan of action. Know what you are going to do, because the hesitation you may have if you are unprepared can mean the difference between life and death.

An Emergency Evacuation Plan is a Necessity

Ella LaChance

No one knows when disaster could strike, it can happen anywhere at any time.  The best thing we can do for ourselves and our employees is to have an emergency evacuation plan.

It is important to establish a Chain of Command by designating certain people to ensure that proper emergency procedures are being followed during an emergency evacuation.

The first person in the chain is the designated Point Person. This person would be the one to alert emergency services and decide if it is necessary to evacuate the facilities.  The next person in the chain is the designated Coordinator, this person completes a list of safety tasks such as shutting off gas lines, checking offices and bathrooms to ensure everyone has evacuated safely.  The next person is the Head Counter, this person does a head count to make sure everyone is present and accounted for.  If someone is missing it is this persons job to let emergency services know so that they can begin a search and rescue protocol.  The last person in the chain is a Triage Person, this person would handle minor first aid for cuts and burns until emergency services arrives and can take over.  All of these positions are necessary but multiple positions can be fulfilled by one person.

The next important thing in your emergency evacuation plan is a designated meeting place.  This is VERY important because it allows the Head Counter to get a quick and accurate head count making sure everyone is present and accounted for.

Practice makes Perfect.  It is important to practice evacuation drills on a regular basis to ensure everyone knows exactly what they are supposed to do.  It helps eliminate chaos and regular practice makes sure even new employees know exactly what they are supposed to do.

A good evacuation plan keeps employees calm and gives them a checklist for exactly what they are supposed to do. It keeps them focused on the task at hand and their #1 goal which is to get to safety.  It is also important for all employees to know what they are supposed to do so that they can aid any visitors that may be present. Also, make good use of the practice drill time by making sure that escape routes are clear from clutter and that all fire safety devices are in working order, (fire extinguishers, smoke detectors etc.) and to ensure that all first aid devices are in their proper place.

A good plan is a plan well executed.

 

The benefits of Fire Detection System

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Why are Fire Alarms so crucial to fire safety? The answer is simple…fire alarms save lives!

This article will explain the purpose of fire alarms; discuss the advantages of installing fire alarm systems, and the great safety benefits of fire alarm systems.