Are you worried about workplace fires and keen to learn basic fire prevention best practices?
Stick around. You’re in the right place.
But first, let’s start with the bad news.
Workplace fires – though rare – still occur.
Data provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General shows that of the 110, 811 fires reported to the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) between 2010 and 2019:
· 5% of the loss fires occurred within industrial workplaces
· 3% within assembly businesses
· 2% within mercantile industries
· 2% within the business and personal services sectors
Source: Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management
And now the good news.
There are effective ways to decrease fire risks including regular fire inspection, installation of a fire sprinkler system, fire extinguishers, and smoke alarms.
Before we get into how to evaluate your company’s fire risk and offer concrete fire protection solutions let’s consider the workplace fire basics you should know.
What You Should Know About Workplace Fires
In order to be able to put in place basic fire prevention systems in your workplace, it’s imperative to understand fire incident prevalence, fire causes, and the fire codes in place in your province. Here’s what you should know about workplace fires:
The Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General reports that in 2019, there were 6,698 structural loss fires and 4, 863 residential loss fires. Loss fires are those involving injury of persons, fatalities, and dollar loss.
These fires led to the deaths of 67 people and 793 civilian fire injuries. The resulting property damage was estimated at $968.9 million.
Source: Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General
More than 13% of these fires occurred within a workplace. While this paints somewhat of a grim picture, it is noteworthy to mention that the 2019 fire estimates were lower on average than in previous years. And there has been a downward trend with fires decreasing over the years.
Source: Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General
Most Common Fire Causes
What are some of the most common fire causes in the workplace? Drawing on data presented by the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General we see that:
· 9% of fires were the result of an electrical issue e.g. poor wiring, faulty equipment
· 8% of fires stemmed from heating and cooling elements
· 8% of fires originated from chemical reactions
· 7% of fires started with a cigarette
· 5% of fires had as source an appliance
· 3% of workplace fires had as ignition source an open flame e.g. matches/lighter
It is disconcerting to note that nearly one in ten fires (9% of structure loss fires) across Ontario is intentional i.e. arson.
In Canada, building construction and renovation must be compliant with established national norms as stipulated in the National Building Code of Canada (NBC). To complement this building code, a National Fire Code of Canada (NFC) exists.
The NFC lays out detailed instructions to ensure buildings are constructed in a manner that ensures hazards are mitigated particularly when putting up multi-story buildings using combustible materials.
Each province has its own Fire Code. Here is the Ontario Fire Code. To learn more about what Fire Codes are, their role, and the different provincial fire codes check out our blog Canadian Fire Codes You Can’t Ignore.
So, now that you’re aware of the fire dangers in the workplace, how do you protect your business?
We’re glad you asked.
Here is our step-by-step basic fire prevention guide.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Reliable Fire Safety Plan
Here are five steps you can follow to create your own company fire safety plan.
Step 1: Identify Fire Hazards
You can hire specialist teams to go through your building checking for any and all potential fire hazards.
This fire inspection is critical in helping to eliminate prospective ignition sources such as frayed cables, wires running under carpets, and faulty appliances.
In addition, you may also want to consider putting up no-smoking signs and designating outdoor areas for employee smoking.
Step 2: Map Out Escape Routes
Your fire plan should detail the escape routes you have chosen. These routes ideally should be as direct as possible and the fastest/shortest way out of the building.
There should be enough exits and corresponding routes to accommodate the number of people working on the property.
Be mindful of emergency doors. They should be easy to open with no obstructions along passageways.
Step 3: Install Emergency Lighting
In the event of a fire, it’s not uncommon for a building to lose power. Power outages will leave employees in the dark and unable to orient themselves.
This is where emergency lighting comes into play. On top of using bioluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) safety signs, emergency lighting systems will help guide employees safely towards exit routes.
Step 4: Designate Team Leaders
Every department within a business should have a key person who is responsible for taking charge should a fire occur.
This person should be a level-headed individual, able to keep calm under pressure and supervise accounting for employees at the appointed safe meeting point.
This person also has the task of enforcing fire safety regulations around the office on a regular basis.
Step 5: Conduct Routine Fire Drills
Once you have perfected the details of your fire plan and put everything in writing, it’s time to communicate the plan with your employees.
A fire safety conference can be scheduled where the company fire plan is explained in depth.
From here, sporadic fire drills may be carried out to train employees and make sure everyone knows what to do if a fire were ever to break out.
Get Equipped Today
Don’t wait until something happens to take action.
By being proactive, you position yourself strategically and give your employees and business the best chance of survival and recovery post-fire incidents.
Make sure your company is adequately prepared and has sufficient fire protection systems in place such as emergency backup generators, fire sprinkler systems, and fire alarms.
For all your fire inspections and fire prevention solutions in Waterloo, Ontario think Nutech Fire Prevention.
We offer a comprehensive line of fire alarm systems, fire warning solutions, emergency backup generators, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans and sprinkler systems.
Request a free quote today.