Fires produce a lot of damage to businesses throughout the United States every year. They also cause many deaths and injuries. In the hotel and motel industries alone, 15 people are killed and 150 people hurt by fires. Those same industries suffer from $76 million in property damage caused by these fires every year. Medical centers are not immune. There were 1,200 fires nationwide in hospitals and medical centers. These are the reasons that fire protection engineering companies recommend businesses develop plans to prevent fires in their businesses. These are tips to developing a good, solid plan to protect your business from the threat posed by fires.
- Develop and put in place a plan for evacuation. Employees will respond in a calmer manner if they know exactly what to do in the event of a fire. They should know what their exact responsibilities are and when they are supposed to do the emergency response plans. For example, you should designate someone, or several, to be responsible for your fire extinguishers. You need to make sure they know how and when to use them. You do not want everyone to run for them in the case of a fire or to have overeager staff use them when they are not needed. If you run a business that has customers, keeping your staff calm, will keep them calm as well. Have several routes out of your business and a meeting spot outside. Do not forget to include plans for people with special needs, say experts at fire protection engineering companies.
- The best way to prevent fire damage is to prevent a fire. You need your fire protection plan to include a plan for fire prevention. You need to designate certain staff to be responsible for identifying and dealing with anything that is combustable, anything that produces heat and any fire hazards that you may have in your business. You need to have a process in place to prevent any emergencies that can happen. You need to make this available in writing to everyone on staff and make sure everyone understands and remains familiar with the plan that you create.
- Make sure your staff are all trained. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) have requirements for some equipment. Your staff need to be trained once a year on the use of the fire extinguishers. Fire protection engineering companies remind businesses that if they have other fire protection and prevention equipment, they all need to be trained on that.
- Keep everything in working order. The best fire sprinkler systems or fire alarm systems in the world are totally useless if they are not properly and professional maintained. Talk to only certified and licensed fire protection engineering companies to handle your inspections and maintenance. You can get a list like this from the NFPA.
- Make sure your exit lights and emergency lights are working. People sometimes think that they know their businesses “like the back of their hand” but that is never the case. You need to have a detailed plan for how to get out of your business but it may be useless if it is pitch black during a fire or other emergency. Any burned out or broken light bulbs should be replaced as soon as they are noticed. You also need to have a back up power system to keep them on during any emergency.
- Keep a clean business. A clean business is much less likely to have a fire than a cluttered or dirty one. Make sure any flammable materials are taken care of right away. If oils or grease are used, any spills should be dealt with right away. Any storage areas should be kept neat and the fire aisles or exits need to be clear at all times.
- Designate staffers to take charge in an emergency. It always make sense to have a team of people whom you have trained in emergency responses. The last thing you need to deal with is is a power struggle among your staff to break out during a fire. The team you set up should have additional training on what to do in an emergency.