When Safety & Health and Fire & Life Safety Collide

Businesses, companies and workers across the country need to have adequate fire safety plans in place in case of an emergency. OSHA addresses fire safety in specific OSHA standards for recordkeeping, general industry and construction, but sometimes you need a little more information. In this issue of OH&S, there are several articles that cover different aspects of fire safety—here’s an overview.  

On page X, we have an article penned by Mike Platek about the unseen and invisible risks associated with fires. Platek explains that those who work to extinguish fires, or respond to the accident after the fact, are in need of gas detectors to help them understand the quality of the air around them and if they are breathing in toxic fumes. Platek’s article is a great look into the potential hazards that fires can bring to those who are trying to protect and serve victims of these unfortunate incidents. 

Continuing on, Lauris Freidenfelds wrote a piece for the issue about how evacuation training, exercises and drills can make or break your fire safety preparedness plans. Freidenfelds reminds us of how planning, prepping, training and training some more can help ensure fire evacuation procedures are second nature to those in a facility. In an emergency when time is precious and sparce, knowing how to react is critical.  

Another fire safety article focuses on fire extinguishers and their impact on the workplace when used correctly. This piece was originally written by Carl McMillan a number of years ago for a 2004 issue of the magazine, but was updated by Tom Maloney, a fire marshal and deputy chief for the Marysville Fire District in Washington. His revisions to the piece bring some much-needed clarification for fire extinguishers and the rules and guidelines that have changed over the past years.  

The final fire safety piece was written by me following a conversation I had with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) President Jim Pauley after several tragic residential fires in the North East. Pauley and I spoke all about how safety professionals are in the perfect position to help train, guide and educate workers on all things fire safety, including how to have situational awareness inside and outside of the workplace.  

Just like these articles, there are many more resources to expand knowledge on fire safety including the resources from OSHA, NFPA and even trades shows and conferences like the Fire Department Instructors Conference, or FDIC, that happens annually.  

Pauley told me in our interview that complacency is the number one reason why fires continue to be so deadly. Through education and training, we can change that. 

This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the former editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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