From 2007-2011 alone, there were over 3,300 fires in US office spaces across the country every single year. Simply put, fire safety should be everyone’s responsibility – whether you’re the first guy through the door in the morning or the last guy to turn the lights off at night.
Identifying those things that pose a threat vary greatly from space to space and workplace to workplace – but there are some commonalities that they share – commonalities that everyone should be conscious of in order to hopefully avoid the threat of a fire.
And that’s why we’re here today – to help train your eye to be wary of hazardous assets and elements.
Beware of smoking
We all know the usual health risks associated with smoking, but we should also be aware that they can at times – present a fire safety risk as well. Many workplaces have designated smoking areas and mark them with signs. When identifying this area, you should make sure it’s far enough away from the building, that there isn’t anything potentially flammable around – and that there’s always a safe space to both extinguish and deposit the butt.
Heating & cooking equipment
You should always have an electrical inspection every year – and a big part of that is to check on the things that create heat. Because wherever there’s extremely high temperatures, there’s a chance for fire. We’re talking things like heat lamps furnaces and boilers. But we’re also talking about things you might not be thinking about – things like stoves, hot pots, coffee pots, toasters and the like. Just due to their frequency of use, it’s always good to make sure smaller appliances are unplugged before you go home at night – and the bigger appliances that are more essential are cared for and serviced & inspected regularly.
If there is a single element where quality varies radically in commercial spaces – it’s the wiring. Some workplaces have complex, precise build outs that are safe and built to meet even the most rigorous demands. Others are literally slapped into walls, particle board is plopped over it and there you go. Again – get an inspection before you move into any space – but also check outlets and switches yourself. Electrical fires can spread in mere seconds and faulty wiring is almost always the culprit. Keep your ears peeled for buzzing sounds – that’s always bad. Occasionally place the back of your hand on switch overs and outlets to see if they’re warm. If they are, you might want to get them checked.
Computer equipment is fast becoming another fire safety issue – not because they’re inherently dangerous – it’s just that there’s more of them and they consume power at a greater clip with each generational iteration. Always check your server areas frequently as overheating and electrical issues can be common. Be sure they’re built out correctly and in a way that they can’t contain too much heat.
Like we said at the outset – fire safety needs to be everyone’s responsibility. Understanding the risks is half the challenge – but also just generally being aware of casual, ongoing check-ins and their importance can go a long way towards creating a safer, less flame-friendly work environment.