Does Your Company Know The Drill?

FirefighterFire safety is an important aspect of a “Business Continuity Plan”.  A well thought out and executed plan may prevent injuries and save lives.  Due diligence requires ongoing review, training and testing of the plan.  Providing proper exits, firefighting equipment, emergency plans, and employee training to prevent fire deaths and injuries in the workplace is the primary objective of a good Fire Prevention Plan.

Building Fire Exits

  • FireExitEach workplace building requires at least two means of escape, remote from each other, to be used in a fire emergency.
  • Fire doors must not be blocked or locked to prevent emergency use when employees are within the buildings.  Delayed opening of fire doors may be permitted when an approved alarm system is integrated into the fire door design.
  • Exit routes from buildings must be clear and free of obstructions and properly marked with signs designating exits from the building.

Portable Fire Extinguishers

  • ExtinguisherIdentify each type of fire hazard within the facilities and ensure there are the proper types of fire extinguisher for each fire hazard.
  • Employees that may be expected to use fire extinguishers must be instructed:
    • on how to fight the types of fire that may erupt;
    • how to properly operate the fire extinguishers available; and
    • what procedures to follow in alerting others to the fire emergency.
  • Only approved fire extinguishers are permitted to be used in workplaces:
    • they must be inspected annually; and
    • recharged after they have been used.
  • If the employer wishes to evacuate employees instead of having them fight small fires refer to the Emergency Evacuation Planning section of this article.

Emergency Evacuation Planning

  • A written Emergency Evacuation Plan would:
    • describe the safe emergency exit routes and muster stations;
    • outline of the safe emergency evacuation procedures;
    • describe procedures for accounting for all evacuated employees and visitors;
    • provide training procedures for employees; and
    • identify who the lead employee(s) are during a crisis.
  • Large companies may require several fire wardens per floor and a ‘Crisis Team’, with a designated Crisis Leader and Crisis Manager, who is trained in preparing and responding to all types of emergencies, not just fires.  These Crisis Managers will help account for all employees and visitors;
  • Special procedures for helping physically impaired employees may need to be addressed in the plan, for example, strobe alarms may be required for hearing impaired employees, if stairs are unavoidable, consider creating “safe rooms” where individuals who are not able to negotiate stairs can shelter until emergency responders can help them.
  • FireElevatorAre procedures required for employees who must remain behind temporarily to shut down critical plant equipment before they evacuate?
  • The type of alarm system, voice communication or sound signals such as bells, whistles, or horns should be outlined in the plan and employees should be trainedas to what each signal means.
  • Develop “Employee Procedures” that include requirements to:
    • review the “Emergency Evacuation Plan” annually;
    • attend training with regards to “Fire Fighting” if required;
    • participate in company fire drills; and
    • report any hazards to their manager.

Fire Prevention Plan

FirePlansImplementing a written “Fire Prevention Plan” to complement the “Emergency Evacuation Plan” may minimize the frequency of evacuation.  Stopping unwanted fires from occurring is the most efficient way to handle them.  

The written plan may include:

  • Housekeeping procedures for storage and cleanup of flammable materials and flammable waste.
  • Procedures for:
    • controlling workplace ignition sources such as smoking, welding and burning;
    • the proper maintenance and cleaning schedules for heat producing equipment such as burners, heat exchangers, boilers, ovens, stoves, fryers, etc.;
    • the safe storage of flammables;
  • Employee training including:
    • the potential fire hazards of their job; and
    • the safety procedures to be followed.
  • Develop “Employee Procedures” that include requirements to:
    • review the “Fire Prevention Plan” annually;
    • attend training in the potential fire hazards of their job and the safety procedures to be followed.
    • report any fire hazards to their manager.

Fire Suppression System

EscapePlanAutomatic Fire suppression systems may enhance fire safety in the workplace; here is some information to consider:

  • Automatic sprinkler systems throughout the workplace are among the most reliable firefighting means, the systems are designed to detect the fire, sound an alarm and discharge the water where the fire and heat are located.
  • Ensure the system is properly designed, installed, and maintained.
  • Develop a backup plan in case it is necessary to take a fire suppression system out of service while business continues.
  • Ensure signs are posted identifying areas protected by total flooding fire suppression systems which use agents that are a serious health hazard such as carbon dioxide, Halon 1211, etc.

The simplest tasks can become difficult in stressful crisis situations, ensure everyone in the organization knows what to do in a crisis.

Safety doesn’t happen by accident!

Download an editable version of the
Household Emergency Plan