What to Do If There’s a Fire in Your Workplace

Posted in Commercial Fire Fire Risk Assessment Fire Safety on 29 August 2016

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When a fire occurs in the workplace, it has the potential to disrupt your business and the people who rely on your goods and services. The higher the number of occupants, the greater the risk.

Fires in the Workplace

Fires are especially dangerous if employees don’t know what to do and haven’t received clear and concise training and instruction, and equally importantly, haven’t taken part in routine and regular fire drills.

Workplace fires could not only cost lives but also livelihoods, as statistics show, 59% of all business interruption claims are as a result of fire & explosion.

Prevention Is Better than the Cure

Review your fire risk assessment, and make sure that you have no outstanding actions from your last audit. Make sure that all staff are aware of any fire safety plans and procedures in place, along with the location of fire extinguishers, escape routes and assembly point(s). Ensure that you hold regular fire drills and fire alarm tests so that staff are well aware of their escape routes and their responsibilities.

All workplaces will have their own, individual fire safety measures and plans in place, so familiarise yourself with them. But in addition, familiarise yourself with these general tips about what to do if ever there’s a fire in your workplace.

Steps to Take If There’s a Fire in the Workplace

Step 1 – Raise the Alarm

Anyone discovering a fire should raise the alarm immediately, regardless as to how small the outbreak is or how innocuous it appears to be. Fires can develop very quickly and every second counts.

The Fire & Rescue Service (999) should be called, with the name, address and full postcode of the property given clearly, along with any helpful information such as the fire type and location.

If the alarm has sounded automatically, assigned office fire marshals should investigate the alarm condition as everyone else evacuates the building. If it is a genuine fire condition, and if the fire is small and manageable (about the size of a waste paper bin on fire), and the appropriate type of fire extinguisher is available, then somebody may attempt to extinguish the fire, but only if they have been trained to do so.

They should make sure that their escape route is never compromised by the fire, as well as ensuring they are confident that they understand the fire type and adjacent risks. Similarly, they should retreat if, despite their best efforts, the fire continues to grow. Fire marshals will “sweep” their designated areas of the building to ensure that everyone is out safely.

In summary:

  • Raise the alarm.
  • Call the Fire & Rescue Service (999).
  • Fire Marshals should check escape routes.

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Step 2 – Evacuate

Evacuation should be prompt and calm, with everyone making their way to the designated assembly point.

Any hazardous machinery or processes should be shut down in line with the fire evacuation procedure for the site.

Do not stop to collect any personal belongings, and never use lifts in the event of a fire – this is because the lift could stop working, trapping you inside, or the doors could open on the afflicted level and expose the occupants to flames, heat and toxic gases.

Head directly to the nearest emergency fire exit. Put your hand against any doors you go through to check that the fire is not on the other side, and the last person out should try to close doors behind them to prevent the fire spreading through the building’s “fire compartments” and also to reduce the level of oxygen available in any room to feed the fire.

If the escape route is affected by smoke, drop down onto the ground and crawl, as the available air will be cleaner closer to the ground.

In summary:

  • Be prompt and calm.
  • Turn off any hazardous machinery.
  • Do not stop to collect personal belongings.
  • Head to the nearest fire exit.

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Step 3 – Get to the Assembly Point

One of the most important steps in any fire evacuation plan is choosing an assembly point.

The location of the assembly point must be easily accessed by all exiting persons and should have safe access for the emergency services. Once you have exited the building, everyone should meet at the designated assembly point. A headcount (or nominal roll call) should be performed, making sure that any visitors are accounted for.

You should not re-enter the building until told to do so by an attending Fire Officer.

In summary:

  • Meet at assembly point.
  • Headcount.
  • Don’t re-enter building.

If You Become Trapped Inside

  • Try and get to a room with a window.
  • If you’re on the first floor, open a window and lower yourself to arm’s length, then drop to the floor.
  • Never jump from a window and make sure to first throw down some soft materials onto the ground outside.
  • If you’re too high up to attempt this, then use the window to call for help and also call 999.
  • Block the gaps under doors with materials such as clothing, bedding, towels etc. to prevent smoke from entering.

If your clothes ever catch fire, don’t run around as this will fan the flames; instead, remember:

  • Stop
  • Drop
  • Roll

Stop immediately, drop to the ground and roll to smother the flames.

Fire Action is a BAFE-accredited company with a wealth of experience in the fire safety industry, and are passionate about providing the best possible fire safety equipment for their clients. In addition to provision and installation of products such as fire alarm systems and extinguishers, Fire Action also offers expert fire safety training to premises across the south east area who wish to arm their staff with the knowledge they need to deal with potential fire outbreaks. For further information, get in touch today and we’ll be happy to help.

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