It’s estimated that around 10% of all small businesses suffer the results of fire at some point, but there are some simple preventative steps you can take to protect you, your company and your property.
The vast majority of fires are caused by human carelessness or forgetfulness, so be sure to educate your employees (and, if need be, yourself) about the potential risks. Also reducing clutter and establishing proper work practices and protocols can help eliminate the danger of fires occurring.
Following these simple steps will also significantly reduce the chances of a fire breaking out in your workplace:
Carry out a risk assessment
Prevention is always the best cure, so try to identify potential flashpoints or danger areas in your place of work. Often these are easier to ascertain using the services of fire and safety professionals. Consider drafting in specialist companies like Jackson Fire & Security who will perform a full audit of your operations to detect key areas of risk.
Install alarms, sprinklers or fire suppression systems
All commercial buildings should have, at the very least, a fire alarm system in place already, but you should also consider installing sprinklers or fire suppression systems to help contain a fire before the rescue services arrive. Some types of business are more at risk from fire than others (for example, restaurants) so you should check you comply with local and national regulations for the firefighting and detection equipment you need.
Regularly maintain and inspect fire extinguishers
In most cases, fire extinguishers will be your first line of defence against a fire breakout so you should have them checked and maintained regularly. Also, it’s a good idea to train your employees on how to use fire extinguishers as most people have never used one. This kind of basic training can help save lives should the worst happen and fire breaks out in your workplace.
Check electrical equipment, wiring etc
One of the most common causes of fire in the workplace is faulty electrical equipment – often caused by poor wiring or connections. Check all your work machines and computers to ensure they’re working correctly and also consider turning them off when not in use. Also, be sure to provide adequate ventilation for computers and other electrical devices to prevent them from overheating. Office microwaves, toasters, etc should also be kept clear of potentially combustible materials, ideally in a dedicated kitchen area. Be sure to avoid overloading sockets – another prevalent cause of fire.
Remove clutter, boxes, papers etc
Old boxes, papers and packaging provide fuel to fire so be sure to tidy your workplace regularly and throw out unnecessary combustibles. Not only will your office be considerably tidier and better organized, you’ll also dramatically reduce the chances of a fire breaking out. Also, ensure all emergency exits are kept clear at all times and check stairwells. If you have smokers amongst your team, ensure they stub out cigarettes properly.
Prepare an evacuation plan, educate staff and perform drills
While we all hope the worst won’t happen, if a fire does break out, it’s essential you and your staff know exactly what to do. Prepare an evacuation plan and be sure all your employees are clear what to do in the event of an emergency. All staff should have access to at least two emergency exits in your building and should be aware of muster points so you can account for everyone. You should also perform regular fire drills – so everyone’s 100% clear what to do and where to go.