Is Your Business Prepared for a Fire?
Fire Preparedness Means More Than Simply Owning a Fire Extinguisher
A fire is every business owner’s nightmare. Your insurance policy will ensure you can rebuild in the event of a fire. But what about protecting your most important assets: your life and the lives of your employees? To avoid the unspeakable tragedy of losing employees in a fire, it’s necessary to build a fire escape plan.
Tips for Your Business’ Emergency Fire Plan
- Ensure your business has the proper number of smoke alarms. In newer homes, the National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) requires hard-wired, interconnected smoke alarms with battery backup on every building level, outside each work area, and inside each office. If your building is older and smoke alarms are not already in place, install them on every level and outside each work area at a minimum. Test your alarms once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Teach employees what smoke alarms look and sound like. If your smoke alarm has a test feature, set aside time for a training in which you or a professional teach your employees the fire escape plan and include a smoke alarm test. If it does not have a test feature, there are videos online which provide demonstrations of what smoke alarms sound and look like. Teaching employees to recognize an alarm and know the plan of action ahead of time will give employees more confidence to remain calm during the emergency.
- Ensure everyone in the building knows two ways to escape from every room. It may not be an ideal route, but knowing a second exit from a room is advisable. It is also essential to establish a meeting spot outside the building to ensure everyone's arrival to safety. Depending on the size of the building, this may require a customized escape diagram.
- Establish an emergency communications plan. As part of your building’s fire escape plan, make sure everyone knows who and how to contact in the event of an emergency.
- Practice escaping from your building at least twice a year. This may seem excessive, but fire drills can save lives in the event of a real fire. Employees come and go, so frequently performing this drill makes sure all employees know what to do.