Among the many disruptions that can impact your business, a fire is by far one of the most dangerous and potentially devastating. It’s essential to educate your employees on proper fire safety training so that you can ensure a safe and secure work environment for everyone. Aside from installing fire alarms and extinguishers throughout your building, it’s equally important to equip your staff with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and others if a fire were to ever break out.
During a fire, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with fear and panic. Consistent training of employees on fire response plans and protocols can help them manage and overcome this panic, potentially saving lives and preventing damage to your property.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 110,000 fires impacted non-residential buildings in 2019 alone. A few of the leading causes of these fires include:
- Cooking 29.9%
- Unintentional/Careless errors 11.5%
- Intentional actions 10.8%
- Electrical malfunction 7.3%
- Heating 6.7%
- Open flame 5.9%
- Equipment failure 3.7%
Every year, fires in the United States are responsible for billions of dollars in property damage, not to mention the injuries and preventable fatalities they cause. Although it’s impossible to mitigate all fire risks in certain industries that rely on combustible materials or direct flames, businesses must work to provide adequate fire safety training to all employees so that they can react quickly in the event of an emergency situation.
How to Invest in Fire Safety Training
In spite of the dangers, many businesses today continue to overlook the importance of fire safety training and fail to implement comprehensive fire hazard plans for the workplace. If you’re uncertain about whether or not your employees know what to do in case of a fire, consider these questions:
- Are you actively protecting employees from fire risks by providing education and training?
- When did you last update your fire safety plan?
- Have you performed a fire drill recently?
Answering these questions can help you determine the readiness of your company if a fire breaks out. Providing fire safety training and resources to your employees is the single most effective way to protect your business against such an event. Here are some simple safety tips that can help you alleviate the impact of a fire in the workplace.
Hire an EHS Professional
The fastest way to bring your employees up to speed on fire safety is to hire an EHS professional to handle employee training. An EHS professional will carefully examine your current fire safety protocols, help you identify hazards, and suggest improvements that can make your business safer for everyone.
Equipped with a wealth of knowledge and experience, an EHS professional will quickly determine the readiness of your business to properly react to a fire and recommend the appropriate action plan for minimizing property damage, injuries, and loss of life.
Identify and Label Fire Hazards
To help individuals identify potential workplace fire hazards, OSHA established a communication standard for labeling combustible materials and containers. This standard uses pictograms to clearly mark areas in the workplace where hazardous substances are present. For areas in the workplace with enhanced fire risk, it’s necessary to place a fire diamond sign to indicate the type of fire risk posed and the volatility of nearby combustible substances.
The ignition of a fire requires three essential components:
The National Fire Protection Association ranks the combustibility of substances on a scale from 0 to 4. This number occupies the top red portion of the fire diamond and helps emergency personnel quickly determine the level of danger associated with the fire. It’s critical to ensure the accurate deployment of fire hazard labels throughout the workplace so that employees can remain fully informed and protected. An expert EHS professional will be able to train employees on how to identify the various fire safety symbols and distinguish their meanings. With this new knowledge, team members will be able to interact responsibly and safely around potential fire hazards and materials.
Plan and Practice an Evacuation
Without having a thorough action plan in place, on-site personnel may not know how to respond to emergencies like workplace fires. This action plan should include both pre-established evacuation routes and clear instructions on how (or if) individuals should attempt any interjection to control a fire. Map out the primary means of egress that workers will use when evacuating the building, and schedule fire drills as required.
In addition, assign key leadership roles to employees throughout the workplace who will help oversee and manage the evacuation process. Consider who will contact first responders if a fire breaks out and which employees will coordinate the orderly evacuation of the building.
Train with Fire Safety Tools
Education on fire safety in the workplace should also include training in how to use emergency response equipment. According to a recent PEMCO poll, less than half of respondents expressed confidence in operating a fire extinguisher. Equipping employees with a rudimentary knowledge of how to use an extinguisher can drastically minimize the impact of a workplace fire.
Fire safety training courses should also cover the following:
- Proper use of an automated external defibrillator (AED)
- Basic first aid
- How to perform CPR
Individuals who receive training on fire safety tools and life-saving techniques are better prepared to react appropriately as they wait for emergency response personnel to arrive.
Bystanders should only use portable fire extinguishers on smaller, contained fires no larger than the size of a wastebasket. As a general rule, an employee that cannot extinguish a fire in 30 seconds should stop, shut the door, and follow his or her designated evacuation route. Although it’s important to know how to properly fight a small fire, it’s equally critical that employees can recognize when it’s time to walk away.
The easiest way to educate your workers on how, when, and if they should use a fire extinguisher is to invest in professional fire extinguisher training for everyone. Annual refresher courses in fire safety training will further help employees retain the knowledge they’ve acquired and keep them up to speed with any changes in prevailing fire safety measures. With professional training, your team will have the skills to navigate a workplace fire with composure and confidence.
Start Fire Safety Training Today
Ready to take the first steps to a safer work environment? Working with an EHS professional can provide your company with expert fire safety training, best preparing your team in the event of an incident. YellowBird makes it easy to connect with qualified EHS professionals and trainers. Our platform will match you with a fully vetted expert who knows everything relating to workplace fire safety.
In combination with that, first aid and AED training should also be taught alongside fire safety protocols. These simple, but life-saving measures only require a few hours of training in order to be ready to act in a compromising event. Sign up today and connect with your best-fit EHS expert in a matter of hours.