A week doesn’t go by where we see news reports of a single house fire, small or large multi family building go up in flames. Dozens of people are displaced and often, someone dies. But when you think about it, fires in businesses seem to be less common.
This is probably due in part to businesses being more regulated along with having better fire safety rules in place to recognize and prevent vulnerabilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Charts for 1992-2007, fires and explosions accounted for 3% of workplace fatalities in 2007.
IOSHA (Indiana) have adopted Federal OSHA fire prevention guidelines and summed up a fire safety checklist.
Employers must provide a means of egress for employees’ use in case of fire, explosion, or natural disaster. A means of egress refers to the route your employees are to follow through the building, the exit door, and away from the building.
Fire Exit Signs
Be sure that exits are designated by a sign that is readily visible and identifiable from the distance that employees will have to travel. Fire exit signs must have letters at least six inches high and three-fourths (3/4) of an inch wide and must be illuminated by a light source or internally illuminated.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
These rules establish the minimum requirements for provision and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers. Different types of extinguishers are required based on the type of hazard at the location. As the employer, you must be aware of circumstances in your workplace that determine whether unique conditions exist that create a greater fire hazard. Contact your local fire department or fire marshal to obtain additional information or assistance with this determination.
The type of fire extinguisher needed depends on the type of fire hazard present. A fire is classified based on what fuels it. Extinguishers are rated by which types of fire they can put out, as follows.
Fire Extinguisher Classes
Class A: For use on wood, paper, cloth;
Class B: For use on gasoline, paints, oil;
Class C: For use on electrical wiring, fuse boxes; or
Class ABC: For use in extinguishing fires from a variety or combination of fuel types.
Train employees on evacuation procedures to follow in case of a fire or other emergency.
Also, provide directions on proper use of fire extinguishers, if employees will be expected to use them. Most fire extinguishers follow this technique (pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep):
1. Pull the pin or release other locking device.
2. Aim the extinguisher nozzle (horn or hose) at the base of the fire.
3. Squeeze or press the handle.
4. Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire. Watch for reflash. Discharge the contents of the fire extinguisher.
Check the instructions for the extinguishers in your facility, as foam and water extinguishers require slightly different action.