Did you know that the United States has the highest frequency of fire losses of any modern technological society? Or that it’s estimated that U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 3,340 fires in office properties per year? A fire of any scale can cause irreparable damage, yet many offices don’t take their fire safety plans nearly as seriously as they should. In recognition of this year’s fire prevention week, take these measures to ensure you and your employees are prepared for a worst case scenario in the workplace.
Hold Fire Drills Twice a Year
In the event of an office fire, the last thing you want is for dozens or even hundreds of employees scrambling around and stepping over each other trying to get out of the building. This scenario is a recipe for further disaster, and it’s one which can be easily remedied by holding regular fire drills during working hours. Hold at least one fire drill every six months in order to ensure everyone in the office knows where to go in the event of a fire. In addition to plotting out specific escape routes for everyone in the building, ensure that every employee knows where the nearest fire alarm is located in every area of the building. The faster someone can alert the rest of the building to the presence of a fire, the faster everyone can get to safety.
Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years
The National Fire Protection Association recommends completely replacing your smoke detectors once every 10 years. In addition, be sure to check the battery in your office smoke detectors twice yearly. This can usually be done as part of your company’s regular fire drills.
Clear a Path
Make sure that there are three-foot-wide walkways throughout the office so that everyone can safely exit the building without tripping over furniture. Not only should there be clear pathways between furniture and the wall, but there should also be clear pathways between one piece of furniture and the next. Although it may be tempting to cram as many cubicles in an area as possible to maximize office space, take care to ensure you leave enough space between workspaces to allow for an easy escape in the event of an emergency.
Invest in Fireproof Filing Cabinets and Safes
Whether a fire occurs in the middle of the night or in broad daylight, your documents are not likely to make it out of the burning building. That’s why it’s extremely important to equip your office with fireproof safes and filing cabinets. Not only do these storage options protect their contents from fire damage, but they also protect against theft as well as water damage caused by office sprinkler systems.
Is your business prepared for an office fire? If you’re feeling underprepared, talk with your office administrators and HR department to organize a fire safety before it’s too late.