How Can I Plan For Safety Against An Office Fire?

How can I plan for safety against an office fire? Public Education Officer Robshaw tells you how to prevent a fire in the working environment. Office fires don't behave like fires that start outdoors. They...

Office fires don't behave like fires that start outdoors. They can spread quickly and ferociously through a building. Jeremy Robshaw, the Public Education Officer for St. John's County Fire Rescue, says that while many workplaces have fire plans in place, it's important for every employee to be educated on fire safety.

"You want to make sure when you are setting up your office that you don't have extension cords that are pinched or caught under the furniture. Don't plug extension cords into one another - it is not a safe practice. Unplug your appliances such as your coffee makers and toasters if you have them in the office. Make sure they are unplugged and off whenever you leave. Keep the stairways and your office space clear of any trash, cleaning supplies or any other combustible materials. Smoke only in designated smoking areas. Never stack papers on top of your computer monitor, because that type of equipment produces heat and you want to make sure you give it room to breathe, especially in the office area," Robshaw says.

This is how office fires operate: The smoke rising from the fire gets trapped by the ceiling and then spreads in all directions to form an ever-deepening layer over the entire room or space. During this process, the smoke will pass through any holes or gaps in the walls, ceiling or floor and eventually into other parts of the workplace. The heat from the fire also gets trapped in the building, greatly increasing the temperature.

There is an added danger to people due to the toxic gases in the smoke produced by a fire. People are therefore at a greater risk from a fire indoors than one outdoors. It is essential that the means of escape and other fire precautions are adequate to ensure that everyone can make their escape to a place of safety before the fire and its effects can trap them in the building.

Here's what you can do: Pay attention to areas that are not occupied, as fires can be started without detections in such places, remove unnecessary sources of heat from the workplace or replace them with safer alternatives, install machinery and equipment that have been designed to minimize the risk of fire and explosions, replace naked flame and radiant heaters with fixed convector heaters or a central heating system, and ensure that all electrical fuses and circuit breakers are of the correct rating and suitable for the purpose.

Robshaw says these fire safety tips for the office can save your life. He says the more educated you are on how fires operate, the better off you are in coming out of one alive.

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