The last thing any employee wants to thing about is a fire in their building. However, fires are a hazard you cannot ignore and instead of hoping for the best, prepare for the worst. The more your staff is educated on what to do in case of a fire the better chance everyone has at escaping the building and surviving. Here are some quick tips on what to do if a fire should start in your building.
Have a Plan: Nothing is more dangerous than not having an emergency plan in place for dealing with a fire. At the first sign of smoke and fire people begin to panic and if they don’t have a safety plan memorized this will lead to confusion and bad decisions. As the manager of your office it is up to you to put a safety plan in place, have your employees learn it and practice safety drills to ensure everyone knows what to do at the first sign of smoke.
Stay Calm: It may sound idealistic but staying calm is the most important part of escaping a fire. The smell of smoke and the sight of fire can cause panic in just about anyone but panicking will not help the situation. If employees are starting to panic do your best to calm them down, ensure them it is going to be alright and help them along as you use the escape routes.
Identify Escape Routes: As part of your safety plan, have clearly marked escape routes. This should include clear paths to exits and emergency lighting indicating where employees can safely leave the building. Avoid elevators and escalators since it is very easy for these systems to shut down during a fire and leave you stranded in a precarious position. Always check your escape routes and make sure nothing is blocking the path. Boxes, equipment and file cases can impede a person’s escape and lead to stampedes that could cause serious injury.
Have a Working Fire Extinguisher: As you prepare to exit the building, someone should be designated to grab the fire extinguisher and lead the way. Every office needs to have a compliant fire extinguisher on the premises and someone who knows how to use it. This person is best suited to help guide people out of harm’s way and use the extinguisher to suppress flames that could block an exit route.
Call 911 and Evacuate: If you are in charge of the fire safety plan remember to call 911 and report the fire giving the operator as much information as possible. When the call is finished scan the office and make sure everyone has exited. Gather your staff in designated areas and begin evacuating the building in a calm and orderly fashion to avoid running and people being knocked over.
Life Safety Service provides emergency lighting inspections and maintenance. Our programs offer a cost effective way to insure that your facilities remain code compliant and have the required documentation to prove it.
We provide our services to many of the school districts within Connecticut as well as private institutions, colleges and universities (References provided upon request). We interact with fire marshals throughout the state and recently a great deal of attention is focused on emergency lighting. A majority of jurisdictions are requiring the code mandated 90 minute test. Meeting this requirement may be taxing for facility staff due to the numerous other responsibilities of the department.
We will provide the inspection and issue a report with all deficiencies. Life Safety may also complete the repairs. Districts have attempted to do repairs in-house with less than satisfactory results. Due to limited staffing, coupled with the ever changing parts structure for emergency fixtures (i.e.; several types of batteries, lamps, etc.) it often makes practical and fiscal sense to leave it to the experts.
Please provide the following information and a preliminary quote will be provided. If the quote fits within your budget we will make an appointment to refine the quote based on the particular needs of your facilities.
• Number of Buildings?
• Are There A/C or D/C Central Systems?
• How are you currently handling your emergency lighting inspections and repairs? In house or utilizing a contractor?
Thank you, and I look forward to your response.
First, let’s hope you never have to use a fire extinguisher. Fires are very dangerous and can grow out of control quickly. However, if a fire has started in the building you occupy, using a fire extinguisher may be necessary and the more you know about the proper use the better chance you have of fighting back the flames long enough to get everyone out of the building safely.
The first step is to read the instructions on your fire extinguisher. You don’t want to wait for a blaze to start and be caught reading the label. Most fire extinguishers operate in a similar manner so once you learn how to operate one you can easily figure out how to use other models. It is also a good idea to become familiar with the parts of the fire extinguisher. Have a check-down list of employees who will be trained on using the fire extinguisher and have more than two since some people may be out sick on the day the fire occurs.
A simple way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is to learn the acronym P.A.S.S. This stands for Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the level slowly and Sweep from side to side.
The top of the fire extinguisher will have a pin release locking mechanism. Pulling this pin unlocks the device and will allow you to discharge the extinguisher.
Some people panic and start spraying at the height of the fire. This is a bad since that is not where the fire is originating. Locate the where the fire is being fueled from and aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire. If you extinguish the source the flames will die out fast.
Always squeeze the level slowly. Again, panic can set in and if you press the level too hard and fast you could easily use up the extinguisher in seconds. Be careful to check that the fire hasn’t caught on curtains or walls and if it has make a sweeping motion to extinguish these flames before it rises to the ceiling.
The recommended method for putting out a fire with an extinguisher is to use a sweeping motion from side to side. Be sure you are at a safe distance and slowly move forward as the fire begins to fade. Once the fire is out do not leave the scene. Many times embers will be slowly burning and if you turn your back the fire can easily reignite. Stand by for a few minutes and spray again to ensure the fire is out completely.
After the fire is out make plans to have the fire extinguisher recharged and inspected.