Jun 27, 2012 / by Alisa Hafen / No Comments

Fire prevention is something which should concern everyone. Not only are fires dangerous , they are costly, because they can destroy valuable property.

Fires in the workplace can lead to injuries, loss of lives and the loss of jobs. Employees can help prevent fires in the workplace by being alert and practicing some safety precautions.

Fires usually start small, but can rage out of control quickly. Stopping them before they start requires that we all work together to detect possible fire hazards and report them promptly. Although buildings may be built of steel and concrete, their contents are not. Most of the materials and equipment we use everyday on the job are flammable or combustible. So even if a building resists a fire for awhile, its contents will not.

What is even more important is that the contents add fuel to the growing blaze. Soon it will be large enough to finally wreck the entire structure. And think of the lives that could be lost not to mention the costs for damage.

Before fire strikes, let us look at how each of us can help make our work department’s fire protection program function at its best.

• Housekeeping — neat and clean work areas are not just for show. Good housekeeping helps in the prevention of fire events.

How? When rubbish and other combustibles are disposed of properly and not piled in corners, fire doorways, or exits, there is much less fuel for a fire to burn. The same can be said and is especially true for paint-soaked or oily rags. Store them in approved covered safety containers or cabinets.

• Flammable Liquids — make sure all flammable liquids are stored only in approved safety cans that are kept in a safe storage cabinet or room. Keep only a one days’ supply of a flammable liquid at your work station. Return all such materials to their proper storage areas at the end of your shift.

• Make sure that the electrical cords and other electrical wiring are in proper working order. Report any frays or chinks on electrical wiring to the appropriate department. If there is any spark or suspicious smells, report that, too. Do not try to repair faulty electrical equipment yourself unless you are qualified to do so.

• Smoking Materials — observe the “No Smoking” rule in all designated areas. Carelessly discarded cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and matches are ignition sources and start thousands of fires. Use ashtrays in smoking areas and always be alert for “stray” matches and cigarettes.

• Read the safety instructions on the proper use and handling of chemicals. Familiarize yourself with the proper storage of chemicals, and make sure there is adequate ventilation so that chemical fumes can dissipate into the atmosphere instead of storing up to dangerous levels.

• When you leave the office at the end of the day, make sure electrical equipment, like coffee makers and printers, is turned off. Make sure you shut down the equipment properly in accordance with stated company procedures. Make sure there is enough space around heat-producing equipment.

• Know what to do if a fire breaks out — this includes knowing your exits, how to turn on an alarm, where the fire protection equipment is located, and how to use it.

Here are five points to remember in case of fire:

o Sound the Alarm — don’t underestimate any fire; report it immediately.

o Warn People — warn all people in the area immediately so they can get to places of safety. This is especially important when confronted with a fire in a building .

o Think Fast and Act with Caution — when a fire is discovered; assess it quickly. If it is from an energized source or fuel supply, immediately de-energize by cutting off the source of power or fuel supply. If it is small and the proper fire protection equipment is on hand and you’ve been trained in its use, try to extinguish the fire.

o Stand By — Stay in a safe location near the fire. Meet and tell the fire fighters where the fire is and how to attain access.

o Fire Fighting — you are responsible for preventing fires. In general, never join in fire fighting unless your help is requested by your supervisor or fire fighters and you have been trained.