workplace fire safety plan

Fire Safety Plan for the Workplace

The “Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005” and the “Fire Services Act, 1981” put an onus on the employer to provide firefighting equipment and have documented emergency evacuation procedures. 

One of the most crucial steps towards fire safety is an effective fire safety plan for the workplace. It intends to:

  • Prevent fire accidents by assessing and controlling the risks that arise from work activities.
  • Comply with statutory requirements as a minimum.
  • Provide a safe and healthy working environment that is fire-resistant.
  • Deliver a piece of effective information, instruction, and training associated with fire safety.
  • Monitor and review systems and prevention measures to ensure their effectiveness.
  • Ensure adequate resources are made available for health and safety issues.

A comprehensive fire safety plan for the workplace can be divided into various components. These components collectively assure an efficient strategy for enhancing fire safety. We will discuss each one in detail. These are:

  1. Building Design and Alterations
  2. Fire Safety Systems Maintenance
  3. Fire Training for Staff
  4. Fire Evacuation Plan
  5. Fire Safety Inspections and Audits

Building Design and Alterations

It takes account of the physical conditions of the office. The aim is to facilitate the containment of the fire by design, construction, and layout. 

  • All building design work and electrical products shall comply with relevant codes and standards. 
  • Materials specification, construction, and inspection of buildings, fire doors, and escape routes should cater to the needs of everyone in the building, especially people with disabilities. 
  • The whole staff should know the location of smoke detectors and alarms, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, etc. Knowing where there is the main water valve and the electrical panel is essential for helping firefighters or other emergency personnel.
  • Ensure hazardous materials are stored properly to avoid spillage.
  • For buildings with many floors, post the floor plans on each floor. It should feature the type, location, and operation of fire protection systems, access for firefighting, and all exit facilities.

 Fire Safety Systems Maintenance

This component includes periodic maintenance procedures for different protection systems and building facilities. These are:

  • Fire detection and warning system
  • Emergency lighting
  • Escape routes
  • Fire safety signs and notices
  • Fire resisting walls, partitions, and doors
  • Firefighting facilities
  • Electrical appliances and premises installations

Along with this, identify alternate fire safety measures in the event of a temporary shutdown of fire protection systems. It can enhance the safety of the employees.  

Fire Training for Staff

Fire safety training helps your employees to be fully prepared to prevent fires from the beginning. The staff is trained in the use of fire equipment and panels, educating them on Fire Marshal duties, emergency procedures, exit locations, escape routes, etc. 

The organization might designate supervisory staff by position, with related duties and responsibilities during an emergency. Some of the different roles that are assigned include:  

  • Who will ensure proper procedure to follow in the event of a fire?
  • Who will be Liaising with the fire service?
  • Who will be responsible for emergency shutdown procedures?
  • Who will guarantee firefighting arrangements, including good housekeeping practices, installing optimum number, type of fire extinguishers, etc? 
  • Who will ensure that staff is trained appropriately in fire safety procedures?
  • Who will assist and support the preparation and review (at least annually) of fire safety risk assessments and ensure compliance with its outcomes?

Fire Evacuation Plan

In the event of a fire, follow a proper evacuation plan. Obey workspace protocol and guidelines concerning fire emergencies. Preparing a plan for orderly and systematic evacuation in advance can lead to smooth evacuations of all occupants. Some of the points to consider while evacuation:

  • Identify persons especially at risk and evacuate them first. It includes lone workers, contractors working in risky areas, elderly employees, people with breathing issues, etc. In a fire safety plan for the workplace, the safe and effective evacuation of disabled people needs careful thought. For example, ramps and wheelchairs should be in place for easy eviction.
  • Never use the elevator. Walk—don’t run—down the stairs. 
  • Plan multiple escape routes from as many locations as possible. You can include diagrams with relevant information such as details designated ‘Safe Refuges’, and location of emergency exit signs for ease of reference.
  • Identify assembly points. It is a place where everyone can join back together after evacuating the building in case of a fire. Share the information about this common point with everyone so that you can do a quick roll-call to check who is missing. 

Do not forget to practice periodic fire evacuation drills to ensure all employees understand their role in fire safety. 

Fire Safety Inspections and Audits

An Annual audit of all fire systems to ascertain compliance with the Fire Safety Management Plan. It includes:

  • Active reviews(quarterly) before any likely accident or event.
  • Reactive reviews following a fire safety event occurring.
  • A review will also be undertaken following a fire, changes to the construction and facilities of the premise, new procedures, new equipment, new materials, and changes in staff numbers and roles. Also, carve out an Accountability System that can account for all building occupants following an evacuation.

Also, there is a need to conduct regular Fire Safety Risk Assessment to prevent future fire outbreaks. It includes a structured approach to determine the risk of fire occurring in the office and identifying the precautions necessary to eliminate, reduce or manage the risk. It also identifies the people at risk, state of emergency preparedness, and effectiveness of controls in the workplace. The outcome of the risk assessment can be incorporated into the fire emergency plan. 

Fire hazards can turn into infernos within minutes, so a well-prepared fire safety plan for your workplace is not just a norm but also a need. This plan can save your organization and employees from the rage of fire and prevent your millions of euros from turning into ashes.