An updated fire safety manual will be clear, easily accessible, and familiar to all employees, and it should cover the protocol for preventing fire and dealing with it in the event that a fire occurs.
Fire fighters in the US respond to a fire every 24 seconds, according to a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). While the majority of fires occur in the home, a busy workplace is also a risk, particularly when machinery and electricals play a central role in day-to-day business. Every company, no matter how big it is or what sector it operates in, should, therefore, have a fire safety manual to clearly outline what should happen in the event of a fire, and this should be distinct from the overall disaster management plan.
The fire safety manual should include a floor plan of the business with all fire exits clearly marked. Employees should know where all these exits are, and fire doors should be kept closed at all times. The plan should also show where fire equipment like fire blankets, hoses and fire extinguishers are located, and staff should receive annual fire safety training to ensure that they know how to use it. Fire equipment should also be serviced regularly by a qualified inspector.
Your fire safety policy should clearly explain safety protocols, such as keeping emergency exits and fire doors fully accessible at all times. Staff should understand that neither furniture nor supplies should be stored in these areas. If your business has specific fire hazards, these should also be covered in your policy: your manual should include instructions about the safe storage of oily cleaning materials or other combustible materials, and regular inspections should take place to ensure that policy is being followed.
A good fire safety manual will also tell all staff exactly what should happen in the event of a fire emergency. Lay these instructions out clearly, and ensure that staff are aware of any updates or changes. Key details should include instructions about when and how to sound the fire alarm, how to exit the building, and where to assemble. Practicing regular fire drills will ensure that all staff know what to do in a disaster, and will allow you to identify any problems with your evacuation plan. Staff should be clear that they are not to re-enter the building until the fire department has confirmed that it is safe to do so.
A fire safety manual is only effective if it is continually reviewed and revised to account for any changes. An increasing number of businesses now have remote workers or staff who are only working on site part time: this will require updating the policy to ensure that employees working from home are also fire safe. Include a section for remote workers covering the importance of having a fire safety plan at home, keeping smoke alarms well-maintained and practicing home fire drills. 30% of 2018 fires occurred in residential properties, according to statistics from US Fire Administration, so ensuring that remote workers are fire-safe when they’re working at home is crucial to a through and inclusive fire safety policy.
Remote workers should also be included in all health and safety training, including fire prevention and security management. This training should be provided to all new employees, and whenever new workers are brought into the business, fire drills should be practiced. Some drills can be publicized in advance, but it’s also important to conduct some that staff aren’t expecting.
A clear fire safety manual is essential for any business. It should be updated regularly to accommodate changes in operations and the fluid nature of the modern workforce, and it’s important to include staff who aren’t permanently based onsite. An effective fire safety policy is essential for the protection of staff, visitors and the business as a whole, and should be prioritized when managers are reviewing workplace policies.