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The Importance Of Detecting A Fire Quickly And The Safety Steps You Can Take Next

Uncontrolled fires on a business premises can be devastating to life and property. Once established, fires can spread quickly through a building and are much harder to tackle. However, with the right detection and safety precautions, most commercial and industrial fires can be stopped before they become serious and building users can make it to safety to avoid harm.

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Steps To Help Prevent Fire

Prevention is the best fire mitigation strategy there is. By following some simple steps, you can significantly lower the risk of accidental combustion in your workplace. Firstly, check equipment regularly for fire safety - faulty appliances are one of the most common causes of fires in non-domestic buildings. Appliances should be turned off when not in use, especially heaters or devices that generate warmth. Plus, wires and cables should be well managed to avoid tangling and overheating. Also, any flammable materials must be stored carefully away from potential heat sources. 

Efficient Fire Detection

While prevention is certainly better than cure, sometimes fires break out despite reasonable precautions having been taken. What matters most if a fire does break out in your workplace is to have the right fire detection systems in place to quickly and efficiently detect the source and severity of the fire – so that people can get out as rapidly as possible. 

These include strategically placed fire alarms, which monitor all areas of your building or premises through a central control board and interface, as well as smoke detectors, heat sensors, and air sampling systems, depending on the needs of your business and any specific fire hazards. Some fire detections are linked to automated sprinkler systems that automatically release water or a fire suppression agent when a temperature threshold – indicative of a fire – is exceeded.

Actions To Take Should A Fire Break Out

When managing any public or commercial building, it's vital to have an efficient evacuation and fire safety plan in place in case fires occur. This should be tailored to the needs of your business, its employees, and customers, and you’ll need to conduct a personalised risk assessment of your premises to evaluate your fire risk level in different parts of your building, and to identify any vulnerable people in your workforce. 

However, the essence of any fire evacuation plan should be to exit the building as quickly, safely, and efficiently as possible, before congregating at a safe muster point.

All workers and users of the building should be aware of evacuation plans and should know where to find window or door keys if access restrictions are in place in the building. Your fire safety instructions should also inform staff, visitors, and service users about the urgency of evacuating the building immediately on hearing a fire alarm – i.e. don’t waste time, leave your things at your desk, and simply exit the building. Ensure that your fire safety signage is clearly placed and effectively conveys your fire safety and evacuation instructions, to avoid confusion and facilitate a fast and safe evacuation. 

After evacuation, you should immediately carry out a fire role call at the assembly point, making sure that everyone is accounted for, and surveying everyone present for injuries or trauma. This can include emotional and psychological trauma that may not be immediately visible, including panic attacks and extreme stress responses, as well as physical injuries such as burns, smoke inhalation, and sprains sustained during evacuation. Ensure that ambulances are called to treat anyone suspected of incurring an injury on site, and to convey them to hospital if necessary.

Resuming Operations After A Fire

Fortunately, most commercial fires are relatively minor, and with the right fire detection, protection, and evacuation systems in place, injuries and damage to property are fairly rare. However, stringent precautions should be taken before resuming operations after even a minor fire. The first priority is, obviously, to put the fire out, before making the area safe again and clearing up the aftermath. It’s important that people don’t re-enter the building until confirmation is given from the emergency services that the fire has been effectively dealt with and that it is safe to do so.

What Next?

Fire safety is a top priority in commercial and industrial building management. To find out more about how to react to fires, please contact Rhino Fire Control today.

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