Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 11th 2013 Contents B6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 11, 2013
It is vital to have a fire plan in the work-
place that ensures all employees can get
out of the building safely. Whether you
are the employee or the employer, there
are a number of things you need to make
sure are known to be prepared for, and
properly deal with a fire at work. There is
no use with only having a hazy idea of
what evacuation procedures and fire fight-
ing steps that should be taken.
All employees should know their fire
escape plan. There needs to be at least two
ways to get out of a building, in case one
of them has been blocked by fire. If you
are the employer, make sure that all
employees know what their escape options
There must ALWAYS be a clear path to
each exit. Obstacles in the way can cause
people to trip and fall, adding more pos-
sibility of injuries.
Make sure all escape routes are clearly
marked so those who are trying to escape
the building have no problem finding where
they need to go during a stressful situa-
When it comes to those escape options,
it is vital to make sure the doors are
unlocked when there are employees or vis-
itors in the building. You don t want
employees to go to what they think is a
way to get out of a building safely and be
stuck inside because the door has been
chained or locked.
Never wedge fire doors open as they are
designed to protect escape routes and pre-
vent the spread of toxic smoke and fumes.
And as fire needs oxygen to survive, a fresh
feed of air through wedged open fire doors
may only lead to building the fire hazard.
There should always be fire extinguishers
in your workplace. If a fire is caught soon
enough, a fire extinguisher may be enough
to put it out and save property and lives.
Make sure you have an ample number
of fire extinguishers available through the
building, which are designed for use in your
particular industry (eg. if chemical-related
fire then use specific extinguisher, etc).
Fire extinguishers should be inspected
regularly to keep them in good working
Workers should be warned not to attempt
to deal with a fire unless they have been
trained to do so. If you have been given
permission to deal with a fire, consider
1. Follow your training procedures; never
putting yourself at risk.
2. Always ensure there is an escape route
between you and the fire.
3. If your clothes catch fire, drop to the
floor and roll around. This will help to
extinguish the flames. Your training should
have covered this and you most probably
know it as the "stop, drop and roll."
Always have an evacuation plan in place
and let employees know where they should
go outside the building once they are safe.
Put together a plan that makes sure that
everyone checks in with someone, so you
know that all employees and visitors are
accounted for -- and have escaped safely
and are not trapped inside.
Discovering a Fire
If you ever discover a fire follow these
1. Remain calm.
2. Sound the fire alarm and/or alert all
the occupants to evacuate.
3. Alert the fire brigade by dialling 000
(or your Security Staff -- depending on
what procedures are currently in place).
4. Leave the building immediately via
the closest escape route. Never use the lift
5. Assemble with other staff at the evac-
uation assembly point.
6. Apon their arrival, inform the fire-
fighters of the situation.
Evacuating the Building
Upon being told to evacuate, or hearing
the fire alarm, follow these steps:
1. Remain calm.
2. Stop what you are doing. Leave the
building immediately via the closest escape
route. Never use the lift (elevator).
3. Walk briskly, and never turn back.
4. Never take anything with you.
5. Always follow the Fire Warden s
6. Before opening any door feel the door
and door handle. Never open a warm door
as there could be a fire behind it.
7. If the door is hot when you feel it then
take another route. A window might be an
8. If you encounter smoke during your
evacuation, drop to the floor and crawl.
9. Close all doors behind you and all
windows along the way, as fresh air feeds
10. Assemble and remain at the evac-
uation assembly point. Do NOT return to
the building until you are told by either
the fire brigade or your immediate super-
visor that it is safe.
11. Notify someone of any injuries you
have sustained, as soon as possible.
12. Never cancel a fire alarm. Fire alarms
should only be reset by those directed to
If for some reason you are unable
to get out of the building.
1. Alert others of your presence -- via a
phone, standing at a window, or by opening
the window and hanging a sheet or some-
thing to alert fire fighters of your pres-
2. Keep a wet cloth over your mouth.
3. Stay as close to the ground as possible.
Not only will you be able to see better,
there is more oxygen.
4. Keep the door closed to stop smoke
getting into the room.
5. Block up the cracks around the doors,
if possible with wet cloths, to stop smoke
6. If there is a lot of smoke, keep your
hand against the wall to guide you if you
need to move about.
7. If your clothes catch fire, immediately
drop to the floor and roll around. This will
help to extinguish the flames.
Fires and evacuations are serious matters,
therefore fire drills are essential for the
safety of all staff (and visitors) of a work-
Fire safety in the workplace
Fire safety is an important workplace topic
throughout the year. While death and injury are the
greatest risks and the ones with which most people
are familiar, fires also destroy jobs.
In fact, many of the workplaces that are destroyed
by fire are never rebuilt. Here are some general tips
for a fire-safe workplace to share with your employ-
Preventing fires is everyone's job. We all need to be
alert to anything that could cause a fire, and take re-
sponsibility to report any problem areas so they can
be corrected. Here are some reminders about fire pre-
1. Practice good workplace housekeeping. Clutter
contributes to fires by providing fuel and by prevent-
ing access to exits and emergency equipment.
2. Place oily rags in a covered metal container. This
waste must be properly disposed of on a regular
3. Maintain machinery to prevent overheating and
4. Report electrical hazards. Many fires start in
faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical equipment.
Never attempt electrical repairs unless you are quali-
fied and authorised.
5. Maintain free access to all electrical control pan-
els. Material or equipment stored in front of the pan-
els would slow down the shutting down of power in
an emergency situation.
6. Use and store chemicals safely. Read the label
and the Material Safety Data Sheet to determine
flammability and other fire hazards. Provide adequate
ventilation when using and storing these substances.
7. Use all precautions to prevent ignition in poten-
tially explosive atmospheres such as those containing
flammable liquid vapors or fine particles. Use non-
sparking tools, and control static electricity as re-
8. Help maintain building security to prevent arson
fires. Lock up as instructed; report suspicious persons;
and don't leave combustible rubbish where it can be
set afire outside the building.
9. Smoke only in designated areas, and extinguish
smoking materials safely. Never smoke in storerooms
or chemical storage areas.
10. Never block sprinklers, firefighting equipment or
emergency exits. Observe clearances when stacking
11. Post emergency telephone numbers as well as
the company address by the telephone in your station
for quick access if a fire were to start in your work
12. Learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher.
What to do in case of fire
It's also important that you have a clear idea what
to do in case a fire does occur.
Know your company's emergency procedures and
your role in them.
Sound the alarm so the building occupants can es-
Proceed to the designated assembly area outside
If you are trained to do so, you might be able to
fight a small fire with a portable extinguisher. Choose
the right extinguisher for the type of fire, and keep a
clear escape route.
As you leave, shut down machinery or process
equipment according to your company's emergency
Take fire drills seriously. They are organised to save
lives and property in case of the real thing.
A workplace fire is an experience you don't want to
have. In addition to injury and loss of life, the outbreak
of a fire can lead to job losses. Rebuilding a workplace
after a fire is very expensive and many companies
can't afford to do it. Don't let a fire threaten you, your
co-workers and your job. Work safely to prevent fires,
and know what to do if one occurs.
12 fire prevention tips
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