Fire Prevention and Planning for Businesses

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Source: Google Images, 2017

Written by Siyathma at Omentra.com

Somewhere in the world, a fire occurs every minute, every day. In the past few years, there have been many fire accidents in Sri Lanka that have occurred which has negatively affected businesses. The most recent being the fire at Crescat mall on the 3rd of October 2017 which is still under investigation. There was also a major fire at a supermarket in Rajagiriya, where the fire had caused extensive damage to the building and property in the shops on the 2nd of July 2017. On Independence Day of 2016, there had been a fire at Unilever’s main factory complex at Horana which had opened in 2012, affecting their supply levels.

Not only is the fire itself dangerous but the smoke emitting from the fire can create a toxic and a dangerous atmosphere. It is one of the most devastating incidents that can befall on a business.

It is important that every business has an effective contingency plan. Fire accidents are one of the essential parts that need to be included in this contingency plan as losing data or even worse, losing an employee would end up being detrimental to a business. It is very important that employees are educated about the causes of fire and how they can prevent the fire and protect themselves at the same time, if not this could cause quite a few legal issues for a business.

 Main Causes of Workplace Fires

  • Electrical Fires

Due to faulty electrics, which includes loose wires and antiquated or faulty equipment. It is vital that fixed electrical equipment is maintained and the proper tests are regularly done. If a fire is caused.

Small electrical fires can be put out by switching off the appliance and pulling out the plug. Smother the fire with a fire blanket or a Type C extinguisher. It is very important that you do not put out an electrical fire with water as water conducts electricity and could give you an electrical shock.

  • Flammable or combustible materials

Could cause major harm by not being appropriately stored and disposed correctly. It is important that the business does a risk assessment and make sure that fire safety training is given to all the employees.

Gas fires should be put out by shutting the gas supply immediately and call the fire department to have the area pipes to be checked for any future hazards. If you enter an area which smells as if there is a gas leak, do not switch on any light switches or light anything as it could cause a huge explosion.

Flammable liquids should be stored in cool, dry room in labeled metal containers with a tight lid.

  • Cooking Fires

One of the largest causes of fire accidents. This would mainly affect food related businesses such as restaurants where the proper training should be given to the kitchen staff on how to handle the situation and make sure that there is no unattended cooking.

If a stove or an oven catches on fire immediately smother the pan with a lid and keeping the oven door closed, baking soda or a Type B extinguisher. Also, make sure that there is no grease built up in any part of the oven.

  • Human error and negligence

Should be resolved by giving fire safety training as well.

Source: surreyfire.co.uk

Fire Emergency Plan

Every business should have a key personnel who have been fully trained in carrying out emergency plans, plan an effective fire emergency plan. Then it should be communicated with the staff and appropriately trained yearly, to act as soon as the alarm is given out. Every second matters, a few seconds could help save lives and property damage.

Fire Alarm Systems

Source: Britishfireconsortium.co.uk

The business itself should be equipped to handle an accident. Having extinguishers, fire safety boxes and fire blankets in the workplace are not enough. It is important to have a fire alarm and call points. It is better to have an interconnected fire alarm and a smoke system. If there are employees who have hearing disabilities, the business should consider installing flash alarms and strobe lights.

The placement of a fire alarm system will depend on the type of alarm required and the layout of the building. It should typically be installed in a centralized area of a passageway and multi-story structures should have smoke alarms installed on each level. It should be placed at a safe distance from lights, ceiling fans or air conditioning vents because the cooler air and flow could prevent the detection of fire, heat or smoke.

Monitoring and Testing

Fire alarm systems should be monitored and tested on a weekly basis. The frequency of carrying out a full service would depend on the size and the complexity of your fire alarm system, which would range from 1-4 years.

Testing is usually done by carrying out by releasing artificial smoke which will activate the detector and set off the fire alarm. This should be done every 12 months to each detector to make sure that it functions properly.

Several useful numbers in case of a Fire Emergency as as bellows –

Fire Service Department – 0112691637

Fire Department (Kotte) – 0112879444

Fire Brigade and Department (Dehiwala – Mount Lavinia) – 0112714444

 

For a Selection of Fire Systems for your business – CLICK TO VIEW