National Fire Prevention Month: Training Employees on How to Respond Effectively

Despite modern building codes and fire suppression systems, fire remains a real threat to both homes and workplaces. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that in the United States, a fire department responds to a fire every 24 seconds. A workplace fire can be catastrophic, both in loss of life and financial ruin, so it’s extremely important to conduct regular fire safety training. Here is what you need to know.

Emergency Preparedness Plan

An emergency preparedness plan is one of the most important things you can do as an employer. This detailed plan should lay out everything from evacuation procedures to response duties, as well as who will coordinate with firefighters and where first aid supplies are located. Be sure to address the concerns of workers who are disabled or may otherwise need extra assistance during an emergency.

Fire Suppression Equipment

Make sure that you have proper, up-to-date fire suppression equipment, from sprinklers to fire extinguishers. Post clear instructions (including photos or illustrations) on how to use each piece of equipment nearby. Replace smoke detector batteries annually, and conduct regular inspections to ensure that fire extinguishers are not yet expired.

Regular Training, Including Fire Drills

At least once per year, or more often if possible, conduct fire safety training for all of your employees. Make sure they know how to operate fire suppression equipment, where to find first aid supplies, and how to evacuate. Test them on the emergency preparedness plan. Teach them how to decide whether to attempt to fight a fire or to simply evacuate and pull an alarm. Conduct irregular, surprise fire drills to allow everyone to practice putting the emergency preparedness plan into action.

Risk Reduction

Risk reduction measures can go a long way toward minimizing the chances of a workplace fire. Stress the importance of keeping work areas clean. Train your employees on proper use and disposal of materials such as chemicals and chemical-soaked rags. Teach them proper operational and maintenance procedures for all machines they might use. Everyone working together can dramatically reduce, though not eliminate, fire risk.

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