Office Fire Safety 101

With so much going on in the average American workplace, fire prevention can easily get lost in the shuffle. After all, what are the odds a fire will occur? The problem is fires do occur. It’s not a case of if but of when. And if your office isn’t prepared, then even a small fire can quickly turn into a disastrous event that not only risks the lives of those who work for you, but also the business you worked so hard to build. 

Understanding what is expected of your business in terms of fire safety is essential for limiting your liability, ensuring employee safety, and minimizing potential property damage. If you haven’t addressed office fire safety in a while, then the time to do so is now. Here are some important tips and practices you should employ as soon as possible to help ensure your workplace is prepared and your employees properly trained.

Fire Protection Tips for the Office

Every office is filled with equipment that runs on electricity, like computers, copiers, and the like. While these components are essential for conducting your daily business, they each have the potential to become fire hazards if they aren’t properly used and cared for. Here are some important tips to help reduce the risk of a fire occurring in the office part of your workplace.

  • Inspect the power cords on your electric equipment regularly and replace any that are old or damaged immediately.
  • Avoid overloading power strips.
  • Make sure any space heaters or other energy-heavy appliances are plugged directly into grounded outlets and not into power strips or extension cords. 
  • Avoid using extension cords.

Fire Protection Tips for the Kitchen Area

For most offices, the kitchen area is home to the biggest fire risk. For this reason, special attention needs to be focused on this area. Every employee needs to know how to use the kitchen and its appliances properly. Here are some of the most important practices you should be implementing in your office’s kitchen area.

  • All appliances should be unplugged immediately after use. It should be company policy that before leaving the cooking area, any appliance that was used should be unplugged before the employee leaves. 
  • Any appliance that generates heat, like a toaster, electric kettle, microwave, or oven, should be set in a dedicated area away from items or materials which could overheat or catch fire. 
  • If there is a space heater in the kitchen, it should be turned off and unplugged whenever the space is not in use.
  • A fire extinguisher should be stored in an easily accessible location in the kitchen area and all employees should be trained in how to use it.

Fire Protection Systems for the Office

Every space in your office should be equipped with smoke detectors because this device is your first line of defense in any fire emergency. The alarms should be hard-wired and have a battery back-up and they should be inspected, tested, and maintained at regular intervals to ensure they are in good working order. 

Your office should also have a properly designed fire suppression system installed, such a sprinkler system or another type of suppression system for any specialized areas, such as a gaseous fire suppression system in a computer server room. All sprinklers and other suppression systems also need to be inspected, tested, and maintained regularly as well.

Whenever you have your system inspected, tested, and maintained, make sure you keep proper documentation, so you always know what’s been tested, and what may still need maintenance.

Have a Fire Evacuation Plan in Place

An office fire can be a traumatic experience and one in which fear and chaos can quickly take over. The best way to maintain control and help ensure everyone leaves the premises safely is to have a fire evacuation plan in place and to test it monthly with fire drills. Establish a clear and concise evacuation plan and make sure every employee is trained in how to implement it. Here are some tips to help you create an effective evacuation plan.

  • A fire can break out anywhere, so design your evacuation plan so it has multiple escape routes. You should have several possible exits available in case part of the building is blocked or inaccessible.
  • Your evacuation plan should be suitable and easy to use for all your employees, regardless of age or physical or mental ability.
  • Place evacuation route maps with all exits clearly posted in visible locations throughout the workplace. 
  • Have all emergency phone numbers easily accessible, so your employees can use them at a moment’s notice. Check the phone numbers often to make sure they are still accurate.
  • Keep all hallways and doorways clear of furniture and personal belongings at all times. 
  • Choose a specific location away from the building for your evacuating employees to gather, so an accurate head count can be taken to ensure everybody got out. Designate one employee to take the leadership role to direct people to that location and take the head count once assembled.

An Ounce of Fire Protection is Worth a Pound of Cure

Being prepared and ensuring your fire alarm and suppression systems are in good working order are the most important things your office needs to protect yourself, your employees, and your business in the event of a fire. Fire protection needs to be included in all employee training and you need to partner with a reputable fire system inspection company to ensure your equipment is always ready for use.

Contact Metro Fire Inspections today at (631) 994-0081 if you need fire system consultation, design, installation, inspection maintenance, and/or violation remediation. We are a full-service fire protection services company serving all five boroughs of New York City, and Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties.