October - Office Strategies : Fire Prevention
Office Strategies : Fire Prevention
Mississippi currently has one of the highest per-capita rates of fire-related deaths in the nation. Obviously, the majority of these deaths do not occur in an office environment. Through progress in prevention and fire response efforts, the number of deaths,(212 in 1960) has decreased to 100 in 1996.
TIPS FOR FIRE SAFETY
- Smoke detectors -- If you do not have them now, purchase them and check them periodically for low or dead batteries. The number needed depends upon the size of your facility.
- Fire Extinguishers -- Keep approved fire extinguishers available and make sure that all employees are trained to use them. (Refer to DAWG TRACKS, October, 2003, "Fire Extinguisher Use").
- Use extension cords only as a temporary move and be sure that they are not overloaded and have frays or naked wires.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by phones and acquaint all employees on how to use the
- 9-1-1 number.
- Evacuation plan -- We encourage and recommend in our visits to have an evacuation plan posted by all exits and in your auditorium areas. This is for outside guests or attendees and new employees. Regular employees normally would know their location, but in an emergency, with the possibility of smoke and/or fire, one might get disoriented and the posted plan would be an added assistance to exit.
- Exit Routes -- In addition to the Evacuation Plan, we should be familiar with escape routes, especially in the case of facilities located in second floor buildings.
- Circuit boxes -- Always keep all circuit boxes open and free of obstructions in front of the doors, in case you should need to cut the power in an emergency.
- Panic - Do not panic, remain as calm as possible.
- Head count -- Leave the facility as safely and quickly as possible. When you are clear of the building, get a head count of people to account for all the folks that were in the facility at the outbreak of the fire or emergency.
- Reentering -- Do not reenter the building, let the professionals with the proper equipment handle this.
- Elevators -- We have all seen the signs, "Do not use the elevator in case of a fire, use stairs." Practice this warning religiously.
- Exit doors -- When exiting a building, feel the door, if it is warm or hot, try to get to another exit.
- Smoke -- When leaving, if you encounter smoke, drop to your knees. The air closer to the floor is more sparse and cleaner normally.
- Electrical fires - Obviously, we don't want to use water on an electrical fire. This can create a shock hazard.
- Entrapment -- If you can not crawl out due to being trapped inside and blocked by smoke, close all doors between you and the smoke. Try to seal off the seams around the door with wet towels or other available fabrics and open a window for fresh air.
- Fire drills -- Although there is no policy for fire drills, it would be a good practice to set up a mock drill semi-annually, so that employees would be familiar with the procedure, if there was an emergency.
- Flammable liquids -- Keep flammable liquids or other flammables out of the facility.
- Emergency leader -- It would be a good idea to designate a person that will be in the office the majority of the time to act as a response leader. That person would be responsible to alert others in the facility of an emergency situation and direct activities related to the situation such as getting a fire extinguisher, calling 911, movement of employees and/or guests out of the facility.
These tips will serve as ideas to be familiar with, in case of a fire or other emergency. All tips are not necessarily patterned for all facilities, but will help to increase our awareness.
Excerpts: NASD -- FLA. FIRE MARSHALL FIRE SAFETY FACTS.
PRACTICE FIRE PREVENTION, IT SAVES LIVES !
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.