Fire Safety

Fire has the potential to be the most catastrophic of all potential disasters that might strike a business. A devastating fire can burn entire buildings and their contents, destroying vital documents, equipment, stock and raw materials. According to the Ministry of Labour & Employment Directorate General Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), between 2017 and 2020, India reported 1109 deaths and 4000 injuries to fire and explosives in registered factories. 

Therefore, fire safety forms a vital component of facilities management that should be prioritised not only for the building’s material components but also for the people who work there. Workplace fires can have serious ramifications, including employee injuries and deaths, disrupted business operations, destroyed property and significant regulatory fines. In fact, in the previous year, organisations across the world received massive fines for committing safety violations that resulted in a workplace fire.  

This highlights the importance of organisations prioritising fire safety now more than ever. 

What is fire safety compliance?

Fire safety compliance is frequently at the bottom of the priority list, as maintaining compliance with the sheer weight and complexity of fire and safety laws may appear onerous. The issue primarily falls under the fact that fire safety inspectors tasked with enforcing the rules prioritise conformity with the law. Financial penalties for noncompliance can be severe, potentially threatening the business’s ability to operate.

However, compliance with fire safety is not just conformity to the law but is also ensuring keeping your workforce aware, proactive and vigilant against fire hazards that will eventually mitigate potential disasters from ruining infrastructure. The focus should begin with determining who in the organisation will be in charge of getting the must-dos done. Hence, the first step is to appoint a “Responsible Person” who has the time, authority, and experience to oversee your fire safety management plan.

Hence, fire safety compliance for both commercial and residential spaces incorporates-

  • Basic mandatory requirements are in place.
  • Put a Health and Safety Law poster clearly displayed on the premises, such as at reception or in a communal staff area.
  • Put up a Fire Action Sign with instructions on what to do in the event of a fire, as well as the designated escape route and fire assembly point. Larger buildings, those with many stories, or those with more than one fire exit door may require more than one.
  • At each public entrance to the property, post a No Smoking Sign.
  • If you have fire doors, make sure they are equipped with fire door signs.
  • Have a fire logbook in place and document your fire safety management records.
  • Perform a fire risk assessment. Every business is required by law to have a fire risk assessment plan, which must identify the following.
    • Evaluating how a fire might start. A fire requires fuel, heat and oxygen. Determine any potential ignition sources and flammable materials.
    • Identifying who from your staff, visitors, customers, and especially vulnerable persons, including children, the elderly, and the disabled be at risk.
    • Analysing the potential risks and, if necessary, taking action to eliminate or mitigate any fire risks. In most cases, this will entail adding fire safety equipment, updating outmoded equipment, modifying working practices, or improving housekeeping.
    • Keeping a record of the risk assessment as well as any steps made to reduce or eliminate the risks.
    • Re-evaluating your risk assessment regularly to ensure it is still current with any changes to your organisation.
  • Install the proper fire protection equipment: It is crucial to realise that fire extinguishers are designed for specific types of fire. For instance, installing a water extinguisher is not the solution if your risk assessment identifies a potential risk from solvent or petroleum fires. 
  • Create a Fire Safety Management plan based on the risk assessment results: You can submit the plan in the form of a recorded fire safety manual, which details the extent and location of fire measures, equipment service and maintenance records, the date and frequency of in-house safety inspections, fire drills and any safety-related training.
  • Hazardous Substances must be identified and isolated: If you store and use hazardous substances that are generally described as toxic, corrosive, or flammable as part of your normal business activity, you should isolate these in suitable hazardous, fire-resistant storage cabinets that comply with the governing fire safety regulations. You should also implement and document safety protocols, as well as teach employees how to handle, use, and transport hazardous compounds.
  • Keep records up to date and easily accessible: If the inspectors audit, they will request to see all these records, so keep them all together in one place, preferably a secure document box, along with detailed floor plans of the building showing stairwells, fire exits or other escape routes and any fixed fire safety provisions. 

What entails fire safety preparation?

Fires can have a terrible financial impact on enterprises, irrespective of size, affecting the livelihoods of business owners, operators and employees and leading to bankruptcy in many circumstances. A fire, no matter how large or minor, can cause permanent damage to a company’s infrastructure and stock, resulting in considerable productivity and profit losses.

Moreover, certain businesses are naturally more prone to fire than others. Manufacturing or service operations routinely employing open flame, volatile materials or other fire hazards necessitate significant fire safety efforts. But, even an office, residential houses, buildings or retail shops might catch fire due to electrical faults, HVAC, arson or plain negligence.

As a result, it is vital for business owners and their insurers to implement all possible fire protection procedures and to ensure that properties and persons are safeguarded in the case of a fire loss. A fire safety audit examines that these processes are in place, adopted per the guidelines and adhered to for a robust fire safety strategy.

A fundamental fire safety preparation can include:

➢   Evacuation plan: Every facility should have a fire safety evacuation plan that outlines what to do in the event of a fire. Diagrams of exit routes should be displayed and studied in public places. Building and company residents should be aware of their nearest exit as well as multiple alternatives. Exit passageways and doors should be clear of impediments, and exit doors should remain unlocked. Exit signs with lights should be placed in strategic locations. If required, conduct fire drills, but ensure staff are trained in fire safety and emergency evacuation protocols.

➢   Fire extinguishers: Fire extinguishers should be kept handy in compliance with local fire safety rules and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. Extinguishers should be prominent and easily available, and personnel should be trained to use them. 

➢   Fire alarms: Fire alarms and smoke detectors are required by local, state and federal standards; consult with fire safety professionals for specifics. In general, the structure should have many smoke detectors. Fire alarm and suppression systems must be inspected regularly and kept operational at all times. Visual alerts, such as flashing lights, must be installed for people with hearing impairments or who operate in noisy situations. Alarms must be heard, clear and instantly distinguishable as an emergency alert.

➢   Fire safety training: Employees should get regular fire safety training. Fire safety protocols, emergency procedures and exit plans should all be included. Managers or other persons should be allocated duties to ensure proper procedures are followed during a fire and to maintain accountabilities for all assigned staff in an emergency.

➢ Continuous process of fire safety audits: Fire safety audits identify whether the company has highlighted workplace fire risks, enforced rules and procedures and promoted fire safety on-site. It also encapsulates whether the company has incorporated regular employee training, implemented an effective fire detection system, has adequate firefighting equipment on hand, and stores potentially combustible materials or substances in secure locations. Hazard inspections should be performed regularly to verify that personnel areas, stock rooms, break rooms and even infrequently frequented facility portions are clear of fire dangers. Overloaded electrical outlets, carelessly stored combustible goods and blocked or locked exits are common hazards to be aware of. 

How does Netrika act as a catalyst for your fire security preparedness?

You might believe that workplace hazards only exist on construction sites or in large industries. What appears to be an uncommon understanding is that a fire safety audit is a high priority, even in regular business. This has a lot to do with overall workplace safety standards, which is why every organisation should perform a fire safety audit. 

Netrika conducts fire safety audits that include an examination of the premises, fire alarm systems and firefighting equipment, as well as examining the relevant papers about fire safety management on the premises. We have experts who perform walk-through inspections and speak with employees to check their degree of fire safety awareness. We also use our extensive knowledge of fires and their causes to provide a valuable assessment of occupants’ ability to prevent a fire ignition.

These audits have been used by business owners looking to confirm compliance with local laws and regulations and ensure their preparedness for fire hazards as well as for insurers looking to validate policy warranties. We aim to advise and educate the responsible person or entity on the premises about satisfying their needed local rules and standards and the insurance policy terms and conditions rather than to catch infractions or document inadequacies.

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