If you’re a business owner or manager you have the responsibility of providing a safe working environment for your staff. Your building should have adequate life safety equipment in place that is ready to be used in the case of an emergency.
Fire protection is an essential element of building safety but how much thought do you give to the effect a fire can have on your business? We recently surveyed 320 Australian business managers about their thoughts on fire protection. It was no surprise to see that, in the event of a fire, almost all of the respondents are most concerned about loss of life. I was, however, surprised to see that only 40 percent are concerned about damage to property, 33 percent concerned about loss of data or equipment and just 17 percent concerned about downtime while repairs and rebuilding take place.
If your business was to suffer from a fire, the results could be disastrous. For some small business owners the damage could be irreparable. I’d advise anyone managing a business to give careful consideration to fire protection and ensure their building is adequately protected, so that in the event of a fire, damage caused to people and property can be minimised.
When visiting client sites our technicians often see businesses continuing to make simple mistakes which can affect their level of fire protection; not having the correct fire protection solution, inadequate emergency signage or misplacing portable fire protection equipment.
Having basic fire protection equipment is essential, and I am pleased to see from our survey that most businesses have fire hose reels, fire extinguishers and fire blankets in place. It’s important that you have the most suitable fire protection equipment on site for your building. Take for example a fire extinguisher; did you know that a water based fire extinguisher should never be used on electrical equipment and electrical fires are best treated with powder or carbon dioxide extinguishers?
Carrying out an assessment of the premises will help identify potential fire hazards and assist in determining the fire protection solution required – whether it is a basic fire extinguisher or fire hose reel, a passive fire solution or a more advanced fire detection and suppression system.
Once equipment is installed you must have appropriate signage in place to denote its proper use. It’s very important that wherever fire safety equipment is located, the correct signage is provided so users know exactly what it is for. In the event of an evacuation it’s equally important that fire exit signs are clearly visible so that people are directed to escape potential danger quickly.
Here’s a quick checklist to help ensure your business is adequately prepared:
- Assess the potential fire hazards around your business and identify the fire protection products you require
- Research the range of products available and make sure you select those that carry the correct approvals. You may want to contact a fire protection provider to help ensure you’re adequately protected
- Be aware of the relevant legislation and standards e.g. Building Code of Australia, Australian Standards or local Government of fire services requirements
- Ensure all employees are trained on how to use portable fire protection equipment and systems and know your evacuation procedures
- Have your equipment regularly inspected and maintained in accordance with applicable standards and regulations.