Top Fire Safety Questions Your Business Should be Able to Answer "Yes"

In recognition of National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 7 - 13), Cintas Corporation, a leader in first-aid and safety products, has identified the top questions safety managers should ask to ensure their business is prepared for a fire. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), nearly 85,000 fires occurred in non-residential buildings in 2010, resulting in 1,375 injuries and more than $2.4 billion in damages. 

“Safety directors who ask thorough questions about their fire prevention plan will be better able to identify opportunities for improvement,” said Jamie Samide, Senior Director of Marketing, Cintas. “Having a complete fire prevention program in place is crucial for employee safety and facility compliance.

The top fire safety questions to ask include:

1. Is there a written program regarding fire safety?

A written program provides an organized plan for safe procedures, customized to a facility. This should include outlines for emergency action plans, evacuation procedures, emergency response teams, and any other pertinent information relating to fire safety in the facility. When regulations related to fire safety change, update written programs to reflect the changes.

2. Are employees protected against fire risks?

Arc flashes are sudden explosive electrical arcs that result in fire and injury. Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as flame resistant clothing (FRC), voltage gloves, face shields and leather work shoes can help protect employees exposed to arc flashes, flammable chemicals and other fire hazards. Ensure PPE is well-stocked and FRC is free of holes and tears.

3. Are fire alarms installed and working?

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire alarms are often disabled because they are viewed as a nuisance. Safety directors should ensure all alarms are activated, in working order and have battery backup. Test them regularly and consider interconnecting all alarms so that the deployment of one alarm sets off all alarms in the building, alerting all building occupants.

4. Have employees completed a fire extinguisher training program?

Regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require employers to provide fire extinguisher training upon initial employment and annually thereafter for their employees. Training programs should identify classes of fires and techniques for fighting each type, PPE, fire evacuation routes and fire extinguisher use. Optimal fire training should include hands on practice to let employees actually use an extinguisher.

5. Are fire extinguishers in working order?

Fire extinguishers should be inspected once a month, and more often in higher risk environments. This involves ensuring the units are not blocked, the pressure is at the recommended level and there is no container dents or chemical deposits on its surface. In addition to these quick checks, units need to be maintained and retagged on an annual basis. Partner with a server provider that will conduct thorough examinations and handle repairs, recharging or replacement.

6. Is the workplace prepared for other fire-related safety issues?

Electrical shocks can lead to fires and can also cause sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It is important to have at least one automated external defibrillator (AED) available in the workplace in the event an employee’s heart falls into cardiac arrest. AEDs should be regularly inspected and workers need to be trained to use them, as well as to properly perform CPR.

7. Are planned fire safety evacuation routes in place?

The theme of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week, “Have 2 Ways Out!,” focuses on fire escape planning. Businesses should identify and document several escape routes, conduct fire drills with employees to familiarize them with the routes and post the evacuation maps throughout common areas.

“Fires put employee safety at risk and can leave a business in total destruction,” added Samide. “Since they can occur at any time and spread quickly, it is important to understand how risks can be minimized. Plans, inspections, maintenance and training should be completed by every business to maximize safety.”

Through the end of October 2012, Cintas will offer a free online fire prevention course for businesses to prepare for fire emergencies. The first 50 people who register for the online course will also have a chance to win a complimentary hands-on fire extinguisher training class at their business.

To receive a free online fire prevention course from Cintas and enter to win an on-site hands-on fire demonstration, visit www.cintas.com/firesafety.

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