FIRE SERVICE WEEK: Nipping fire in the bug
In recognition of Fire Service Week 2016, NATION Online will be reproducing a series of articles on fire safety and fire prevention.
FIRE PREVENTION is the key to a safe working environment. Once you have completed a fire risk assessment and possible dangers have been identified you must minimise them immediately.
Failure to do so could result in prosecution or worse; a fire could destroy your business.
To prevent fire and safeguard your workplace you must be aware of what is expected of you.
As an employer you are expected to have designated fire exits, fire alarms and detection systems, fire extinguishers and regular fire drills. Staff training in health and safety procedures is also essential so that people know what to do in an emergency.
Staff must be aware of fire prevention methods, regulations and procedures in the event of an emergency. This is necessary for the safety of yourself, employees and your business.
Here are some workplace fire prevention tips:
• Eliminate fire hazards:
Keep workspaces free of waste paper and other combustibles and have damaged electrical cords replaced. Also, do not overload circuits, and on leaving the office on evenings, unplug all electrical items which are not in use.
• Prepare for emergencies:
Make sure you know who to call in an emergency: Participate in all drills.
• Report fires and emergencies promptly:
Immediately report all foul odours or defective equipment to security. If fire is detected pull the fire alarm station to sound the alarm.
• Evacuate safely:
Leave the area quickly in an emergency; use stairs instead of the elevator. Assist your co-workers.
• Do not use open flames:
The use of open flames in the workplace is prohibited.
• General workplace fire safety:
Make sure all walkways and corridors are kept clear to ensure emergency egress is uninhabited.
Use and maintain wiring, tools and equipment correctly. Keep everything oil and dust free.
Do not use equipment that delivers mild electrical shock, gives off unusual heat or smells odd. If in doubt have it checked and repaired or replaced.
Sweep up scraps of paper or material and dust as soon as possible.
Do not use electrical equipment when flammable gases, vapours, liquids or dust are
Ensure trash is emptied frequently to prohibit a buildup of combustibles in any given area.
The Barbados Fire Service routinely inspects commercial buildings and recommends ways to improve safety and aid in fire prevention.
Barbados’ law stipulates that such venues must have a fire certificate, and the VAT office will not grant approval for their operation unless that certificate is presented.
Since they often house large crowds and can have flammable substances such as alcohol stored on the premises, places of entertainment have the potential for experiencing dangerous fires.
The installation of smoke detectors and fire alarms and the strategic placement of fire extinguishers are key elements in any fire prevention initiative.
But loud music can make alarms difficult to hear and intoxicated persons may become confused, not exiting in an orderly manner, with the resultant panic causing trampling
and injury. Further, access to exits may be blocked or otherwise inhibited by locked doors.
Given these considerations, speedy response to any flare-up can save lives and limit injury.
This is why it is necessary that businesses conduct fire drills and have in place a fire policy that spells out responsibilities and action. The Barbados Fire Service is
always ready to assist companies in the fire drill exercise.