Fire Safety

Preventing injuries and destruction that result from workplace fires must be a priority for you, your employer, and your workers. Having a fire prevention policy in place, along with choosing the right equipment to prevent and fight fires, is crucial to ensuring your safety and the safety of your co-workers.

A clear, comprehensive, and well-communicated fire prevention policy is the basis of your workplace fire prevention program. It gives purpose and direction to fire prevention plans, procedures, and training. An effective fire prevention policy must cover:

  • Alarm systems
  • Fire suppression systems, such as automatic sprinkler systems
  • Fire extinguishers – including choosing the right one and training workers on how to use them
  • Common fire hazards
  • Fire reporting procedures
  • Evacuation procedures – everyone should know at least 2 exit routes from their work area
  • Safety precautions for preventing workplace fires
  • Fire-fighting rules – when to fight, when to take flight
  • Fire safety training – what, when, who, and how often
  • Emergency response teams – fire brigades, emergency shutdown procedures, medical emergency first responders, etc.

Fire drills are also an important element of your fire prevention policy. Drills should be conducted every 6 to 12 months, depending on the needs of your facility. An employee briefing should be conducted after the drill to evaluate its effectiveness.

Fire extinguishers are one of the first lines of defense against workplace fires. When choosing a fire extinguisher, it’s important to know what types of combustible material you have in your facility. Fire extinguishers are categorized in classes based on the materials they extinguish:

Class A – Ordinary combustibles: wood, paper, rubber, fabrics, and many plastics
Class B – Flammable liquids & gases: gasoline, oils, paint, lacquer, and tar
Class C – Fires involving live electrical equipment
Class D – Combustible metals or combustible metal alloys
Class K – Fires in cooking appliances that involve combustible cooking materials: vegetable or animal oils and fats

When using a fire extinguisher, stand 6 to 8 feet away from the fire and follow the four-step PASS procedure recommended by the National Fire Protection Association:

P – Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you
A – Aim low at the base of the fire
S – Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly to discharge the extinguishing agent. (When the agent first hits the fire, the fire may briefly flare up. This should be expected.)
S – Sweep the nozzle from side to side, moving carefully toward the fire. Keep the extinguisher aimed at the base of the fire.

If you have combustible liquids in your facility, it’s crucial that you choose the right cabinet to safely store them. Here are a few things to consider when making your choice:

  • Compliance and regulatory requirements
  • Type of chemical to be stored
  • Capacity needs
  • Performance testing

According to OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.106 / NFPA Code 30 Section 4.3.3, your safety storage cabinet must be Factory Mutual (FM) approved, and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed. It must also comply with your federal, state, and local regulations. Be sure to check with your local Fire Marshall for guidance in your selection.

Implementing a fire prevention policy and choosing the proper equipment is critical in ensuring the safety of your workers and your facility. October is National Fire Safety Month. Take this opportunity to ensure the proper procedures are in place.

Sources: safetydailyadvisor.com, safetysupercenter.com, Justrite Manufacturing

Northern Safety Co., Inc.
PO Box 4250. Utica, NY 13504-4250
Phone: 1-800-571-4646
Fax: 1-800-635-1591

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