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Fire safety in workplace

Posted 8/20/2012   Updated 8/20/2012 Email story   Print story


by James Palmer
Keesler Fire Prevention assistant chief

8/20/2012 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Fire prevention is the key to a fire-safe workplace. Many of the nation's 5,000 office fires could have been prevented if organizations and personnel followed basic on-the-job fire safety practices.

Housekeeping is essential to fire prevention. Keep waste paper, empty boxes, dirty rags, cleaning supplies, and other non-combustibles to a minimum, out of exits and stairways and stored correctly.

The fire prevention section recommends the following fire safety tips for your work place:

· Leave space for air circulation around heat producing equipment and appliances such as copy machines, coffeemakers and computers.
· Keep appliances away from anything that might catch fire. High drawing electrical appliances and equipment must be plugged directly into the wall outlet.
· Designate personnel to turn off and unplug all appliances at the end of the workday.
· Replace any cracked, frayed, or damaged electrical cords on equipment and appliances.
· Extension cords are used only on a temporary basis and highly discouraged for permanent use. If used, do not run extension cords across doorways where they can be stepped on, pinched or run over by chairs. Do not plug extension cords and surge protectors into one another and avoid plugging more than one extension cord into an outlet. Only use approved six-outlet surge protectors for permanent use.
· All seasonal decorations in the work place must be non-combustible and fire retardant. Do not cover doors with decorations unless they are non-combustible. Fire doors with fire frames and windows will not be covered with any type of decorations. Decorations will not be hung from ceiling and fire sprinklers in the facility. Decorations will not obstruct installed fire protection devices nor will they block or obstruct egress routes and exits from the facility.

Keesler's fire prevention section recommends the following for your specific work area:

· Know where your nearest fire exits are located.
· Know two ways out of the facility.
· Know the location of the nearest fire alarm pull station and fire extinguisher and learn how to use them both.
· Post fire report emergency number on the phone or near all telephones in the facility.
· Evacuation plans should be posted prominently and discussed during new employee orientation.
· Include any special needs personnel who may be working in your facility in the fire emergency planning process.

If a fire or emergency should take place:

· Pull the nearest fire alarm to alert all personnel in the facility. Call the fire department by dialing 911, no matter how small the fire appears to be or even if the fire has been extinguished.
· Remain on the phone until all information is given and you are told to hang up by the 911 operator. Try to extinguish a small fire if possible. If there is any doubt about controlling the fire or your safety do not attempt to fight the fire.
· Leave the area quickly, closing all doors behind you as you leave to contain the fire and smoke keeping the fire from spreading from one area to another.
· All personnel should assemble at the designated assembly point to be counted.
· If you encounter smoke or flames during your evacuation use an alternate exit.
· Heat and smoke rise, leaving cleaner air near the floor. If you must exit through smoke, crawl on your hands and knees, keeping your head in the safety zone 12 to 24 inches above the floor.
· Test doors before you open them. Kneeling or crouching at the door, reach up as high as you can and touch the door, the knob, and the space between the door and its frame with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, use another escape route. If the door is cool, open it slowly.
· Once outside, move away from the facility at least 75 feet out of the way of firefighters. Remain outside until the fire department says you may go back into the facility.

Remember to report all fires to the fire department via 911 regardless of the size, nature or extent of damage, whether extinguished by individual or group effort, citing all pertinent details. Also, report as an emergency via 911, any smell of burning that is detected or when any situation that may indicate a potential fire is discovered. If there are any questions concerning fire prevention in the work place or in general, contact the base fire prevention section at 228-377-3330/8440.

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