7 Reasons Even the Smallest Offices Need a Fire Safety Plan
Having a fire safety plan in place can save lives.
- By Rupert Jones
- Jan 06, 2023
Fire safety should be a priority in and outside of the workplace, even if your home or office is small. Fires are indiscriminate and destructive, and there’s an argument to be made that startups are more at risk. That’s because they’re less likely to have a fire safety plan.
Fire safety plans can save you and your employees’ lives, and there’s no better reason than that to create one. But if you’re unconvinced, here are seven more reasons you need a safety plan.
1. Fire Safety Plans Include Anti-Fire Equipment
Maybe you don’t see a point in creating a fire safety plan because you work from a very small office with few staff. If you stop to consider how many house fires happen (346,000 per year or 26 percent of all reported fires), then it’s clear to see that it only takes one person to cause a fire.
But when it does happen, you can minimize the damage by taking advantage of fire and life safety services. These include installing sprinklers, fire extinguishers and loud fire alarms.
Fire safety should be taken seriously by your staff, as a single mistake could cost them their lives. When you have fire and life safety equipment in your office, it can be used to minimize the damage and evacuate safely. You could even extinguish a little fire yourself with an extinguisher.
2. People Naturally Panic During a Fire
It’s completely natural to panic when our homes or offices are on fire, and that reaction should be taken into account. Even the most bare-bones fire safety plan can give employees direction on where to go or what to do. Without a safety plan, it’s every man and woman for themselves.
When this happens, people get hurt. Trampling, tripping and pushing are common in poorly planned evacuations. However, a fire safety plan can help you get everyone out safely.
With that said, a fire safety plan doesn’t guarantee everyone will cooperate. Employers should appoint a leader to rally everyone together when things get chaotic. Preferably, this leader will be a respected manager that has a background in fire safety or health and safety management.
3. Most People Don’t Know What to do During a Fire
High-pressure or dangerous situations can cause otherwise rational people to make mistakes, but mistakes are guaranteed when no one knows what they’re doing. You could have a team of 10 people and still end up with a lot of injured employees and thousands of dollars in damages.
When a teammate discovers a fire, they should activate the fire alarm, alert other staff and assist others if possible. When other team members hear the alarm, they should shut down their equipment (if possible), leave the building via the stairwell, and close all doors behind them.
These steps are crucial whether you work in a large office building or a small stand-alone office. If your team doesn’t know what to do during a fire, you need to educate them immediately.
4. Everyone Knows Their Role
You may have a map and some direction on what to do during a first, but that won’t mean they’re aware of who leads and who follows. As stated, appointing a leader is essential, but you shouldn’t stop there. All fire safety plans designate roles for each team member and manager.
In a scenario with 10 total employees, two should be leaders, and two should bring up the rear (to check if someone needs help). Everyone should have a previously designated partner that looks after them. If you’ve hired a person with disabilities, they may need extra help or attention. People with epilepsy, for example, should be monitored in case the stress triggers a seizure.
If someone doesn’t have a role, they should evacuate following their leader’s instructions.
5. Fire Drills Can Keep Instill Best Practices
Fire safety procedures must include guidelines and floor plans, which should be communicated to every employee and occupant. Employees should know what information is needed when calling for emergency services. Finally, occupants should be trained in general fire safety.
These steps aren’t difficult to execute once, even twice, but the best plans will include fire drills that keep workplace procedures fresh in their mind. Drills should be planned and unplanned.
Your first fire drill won’t be smooth, and unplanned drills come with the possibility of injury. With that said, fire drills are worth it because they instill fire safety best practices and prepare staff for the real deal. A one-a-month fire drill will instill confidence in your staff to evacuate successfully.
6. Managers Can Keep Up With Maintenance Procedures
Managers must perform regular maintenance that focuses on fire safety procedures. For example, they should check if emergency exits and fire extinguishers are accessible, that fire doors are correctly installed and that appropriate emergency lighting is found in the building.
Fire extinguishers and smoke and fire alarms must be inspected every month to ensure they’re operational. They should be installed based on Fire Code and the National Fire Protection Association’s placement guide. Tripping up on this step will affect your evacuation plans.