Alt Title: X Tips to Evaluate Risk of Fire in Your Business
Every business is subject to risks. If you don't evaluate or address those risks effectively, it could have terrible consequences for the future of your business.
One of the most devastating things that can happen to your business is a major fire. If you're unprepared, a fire can ravage your physical workplace, destroying the property, your inventory, your equipment, and even hurting your customers and the people who work for you.
The best way to minimize damage from a fire is to evaluate your risk of a fire long before you actually face one. Given enough knowledge and prep time, you can install the system as necessary to minimize your fire risk and keep the business intact and operational.
Likelihood and Severity
Fire risk assessments usually look at two major factors: likelihood and severity. In other words, how likely is it that a fire is going to break out in different areas of your business, and how much damage could that fire ultimately do?
You're also going to be looking at your current systems and equipment, as well as policies in place designed to minimize the risk of fire or respond to a fire in progress.
The Fire Risk Assessment
To assess fire risk in your business, you'll need to go through the following steps:
· Identify potential fire hazards. First, you need to take a look at the potential fire hazards in your business. Fires can happen anywhere, but they're much more likely to happen near an open flame or a major fuel source. You need to be aware of where your biggest fire hazards are and how you can properly control those hazards.
· Identify people at risk of fire. Next, you need to identify the people who are at risk of a fire. If a fire breaks out around a piece of your equipment, which of your team members are most at risk of being hurt? How can you get them to safety?
· Analyze existing fire safety arrangements. In line with this, you're going to need to analyze your existing fire safety arrangements. Do you have an escape route in place? Do you have a fire suppression system or some other way to immediately target and control the flames? Are your employees properly trained and educated on fire safety, and do they know what to do in the event of a fire?
· Document your conclusions and make a plan. At this point, you'll be ready to start documenting your conclusions and making a plan. Are there any steps you need to take to eliminate a fire hazard or get one under control? Do you need to better train some of your employees? Do you need to install new fire safety equipment?
· Execute the plan. The plan is only valuable if you take action on it. A written note that you need to install a fire suppression system doesn't mean anything unless you actually install a fire suppression system.
· Plan to assess again. Fire risk assessments shouldn't be a one-time thing; you should plan to make another fire assessment in a year. Business conditions change rapidly, knowledge decays, and your equipment might deteriorate over time; it's important to make annual assessments accordingly.
Most Common Fire Hazards
Fire hazards come in many forms. These are some of the most common ones you’ll need to identify:
· Major sources of ignition. These include things like open flames, conventional heaters, and certain types of commercial processes. Even if it's properly controlled most of the time, any ignition source has the potential to start but devastating fire. This is especially true if the ignition source is in any proximity to a major fuel source.
· Combustible fuels. You also need to look at the combustible fuels in your organization. Gasoline, oxygen, and other explosive combustibles are some of the most dangerous combustible fuels, but you also need to consider things like papers and textiles. Large stores of combustible fuels are important to address, even if they're not near a source of ignition by default. All it takes is one spark to send them up.
· Electrical issues. Part of your fire risk assessment should be looking at your company's electrical wiring. Electrical issues are still one of the most common root causes of fires, even though these types of fires are largely preventable.
· Structural problems. You should also evaluate any potential structural problems that could lead to a fire spreading faster or lead to fire-related risks for your employees and customers. For example, or any escape routes currently blocked? Are there fire walls in place to minimize the spread of flames?
With your risk assessment complete, what steps can you take to mitigate fire risks in your business?
· Proper procedures and education. First, you need to make sure that your employees are well educated and trained on fire safety. You also need to have firm policies in place to prevent the possibility of a fire starting – like prohibiting smoking in certain areas.
· A fire suppression system. You should also install a fire suppression system. Automatic fire suppression systems are designed to detect the outbreak of a fire and respond instantly, without any human intervention.
· Detection and alarms. Always make sure your detection systems are working, so employees and customers get an immediate warning when a fire breaks out. Your fire suppression system might kick into gear and control the flames within a few moments, but it's still important for your people to get to safety.
· Escape routes. Are there ample available escape routes for everyone in the business? Are these escape routes well-documented and easy to follow, even for someone unfamiliar with this building's layout?
One of the best ways to stop a fire in its tracks, or at least mitigate the damage of a fire, is to install a fire suppression system. But this is a big decision, and a complex one if you’re unfamiliar with how fire suppression systems work.
If you’re interested in learning more, or if you’re ready for an outside assessment of your fire risk, contact us today!