As an office employee, one of the most frightening safety problems you could ever wish to encounter is that of a fire.
Office buildings, much like the home, are full of a vast array of materials such as carpets, and fabric covered furniture (only on a far larger scale), all of which, when caught in a blaze emit deadly toxic gases that could spread quickly throughout the building.
How do they start?
Statistically most office fires occur due to human error, there are of course many other reasons why a fire can break out, but it most cases, the harsh reality is that it’s down to the occupants and the landlord’s negligence that fires are free to start. One of the most common causes for office fires are out of date or dodgy exposed wiring. It is the landlord’s duty to maintain their building so that it is safe for office use, however on rented premises it is the obligation of the companies and their staff to play their part, together helping to keep the building safe and fire free.
Fire inspections from the local fire station should occur at least twice a year, but it is the obligation of the landlord, and the companies that reside within to prevent any fires from breaking out.
Fighting the Fire Yourself
Every single trained fire fighter will tell you that unless the fire is contained ie within a bin, bucket, container or small room, don’t attempt to fight it. Simply raise the alarm and escape the building in the exact way that you have been trained to do so. Contained fires, depending on their size are easy to fight, as they have far less risk of spreading to other areas. However, if a fire is in an open environment, it is better to escape as the fumes alone, that you’ll breath in when fighting the fire, can kill you within 10 to 15mins.
Escaping the Building
Regular Fire Drills On average fire drills should take place once every quarter, with a fire alarm test once a week. If your office doesn’t practice this on a regular basis you should raise the topic with the senior management, as it is a company’s legal obligation to carry out such regular drills.
If your company is large enough for a HR department, they will most likely be the ones who organise any fire safety training for the staff, and the training will normally consist of watching one of those extremely cheesy health and safety videos! As terrible as the acting maybe, nevertheless make sure you pay attention, as they should be tailored for your particular situation, and could in fact, save your life.
Make sure you know where all the fire escapes are, and understand the fastest and safest route to each of them. In some buildings and companies there could be a designated fire marshal, be sure to know who this person is, as they could have vital information that could prove life saving if a fire were to ignite.
Raise the Alarm
No matter how big the fire is raise the alarm immediately. A small fire can become an out of control inferno in a matter of minutes, so do all that it takes to prevent that, and raise the fire alarm promptly, ensuring that any of the buildings fire marshals and occupants know that this time, it isn’t a drill. Don’t Use the lift! In the result of a fire, normally lifts will be shut down automatically, however, under no circumstances use a lift to escape the building. You’ll be far safer escaping on foot. Preventing a Fire
As mentioned above, most fires are caused by dodgy electrics, however your individual work space is as much your responsibility as it is the company you work for:
Always make sure you:
• Turn off your computer at the end of the day
• Check around, and under your desk for dodgy wiring.
• Don’t use Fire Extinguishers as door stops
• Understand the difference between the coloured extinguishers.
• Don’t try to resolve any issues yourself – Report them to a line manager and remember to follow these up.
Remember, it is both your company’s and landlord’s responsibility to maintain a safe and well prepared working environment. If you feel that anything is being neglected, make a note of it and always report it to your manager.