May Safety Moment: Office Fires

Office Fires – Be Ready To React!

About 6,000 office fires are reported every year in the United States, according to the Seattle Fire Department. If your workplace experienced a fire, would employees know how to respond?  All office workers should be trained on:

In addition, staff should take part in regular fire drills and know the correct emergency response procedures – including for individuals who may need a non-standard response and other special circumstances, such as someone who uses a wheelchair.

When it comes to fire extinguishers, you should know the types, sizes and maintenance requirements of the extinguishers in your office, as well as howto use them.

If a fire does break out at work, employees will need to react quickly. Remember the following:

Take it seriously. Treat every alarm as a real fire emergency – don’t assume it’s a drill.
Call the fire department. Never wait to investigate the situation or expect someone else to make the call, delays can allow a fire to grow and further endanger the building occupants and property.
Be ready with information. When calling 911, employees should be able to accurately describe the situation and provide the address of the business, as well as the closest cross street. Ensure employees know not to hang up until the 911 dispatcher tells them to do so.
Close doors as you leave. Workers should close doors behind them as they evacuate, as this can help reduce the spread of smoke and fire throughout the building.
Don’t take the elevator. Employees never should use an elevator during a fire, for three reasons:

  1. Entrapment can occur because elevators often fail during emergencies.
  2. Elevators quickly can become filled with smoke.
  3. Elevators need to be available for arriving firefighters.

Have a designated meet-up spot. Fires can cause chaos, so it’s important to have a designated meeting place where all workers can be accounted for. The location should be away from both the building and where the fire department will arrive.
Know what to do if you can’t get out. If workers are trapped in the building, they should know where to huddle. The room should be sealed with wet cloths to stuff under doors and in cracks to protect against smoke. Employees should know not to break windows, and to stay low under any smoke. Use a phone or hang something in the window so emergency personnel will know you need help.

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