According to the National Crime Records Bureau, on an average, in India, every year, about 25,000 persons die due to fires and related causes. Female accounts for about 66% of those killed in fire accidents. It is estimated that about 42 females and 21 males die every day in India due to fire.
Fire poses a major threat to various occupancies in India. Almost every day some fires are reported by media across the country. These fires not only resulted in the loss of many precious life and injuries to many but also inflicted heavy property loss.
During the last two decades there was a vibrant growth in the construction activities in India, especially in high rise buildings. Because of its peculiar nature, fire in residential buildings, in particular, high rise buildings become more complex and the salvaging operations become more difficult and sometimes even resulting in many deaths and huge property losses. The rapid modernization of Indian Industry has made the scenario more complex. Awareness towards fire safety had not been quite forthcoming.
In this blog we will highlight the top ways to prevent fire in the workplace and increase productivity of an organization. These tips can not only save lives, but they can also help raise awareness about fire safety and fire protection in our building. The best thing you can do is educate the workplace occupants and abide by safety regulations to keep our building up and running smoothly.
Importance of Fire Safety
Fire safety is important and necessary in the workplace in order to prevent and protect against the destruction caused by fire. Fire safety reduces the risk of injury and building damage that fires can cause. Developing and implementing fire safety protocols in the workplace is not only required by law but it is crucial to everyone’s safety that may be in the building during a fire emergency. The following points given below:
- Reduce the risk of injury to employees and customers
- Reduce damage to facility/building
- Protect against possible fines
- Protect against losing customers’ trust
- Protect employee jobs that would be lost due to extensive building damage
How does fire occur?
Fire occurs whenever combustible fuel in the presence of oxygen at an extremely high temperature becomes gas. Flames are the visual indicator of the heated gas. Fire can also occur from lower-temperature sources. Over time, combustible materials such as smoldering embers can reach their ignition temperature.
The Fire Triangle
The fire triangle is a simple way of understanding the elements of fire. The sides of the triangle represent the interdependent ingredients needed for fire: heat, fuel and oxygen.
A heat source is responsible for the initial ignition of fire, and is also needed to maintain the fire and enable it to spread. Heat allows fire to spread by drying out and preheating nearby fuel and warming surrounding air.
Fuel is any kind of combustible material. It’s characterized by its moisture content, size, shape, quantity and the arrangement in which it is spread over the landscape. The moisture content determines how easily it will burn.
Air contains about 21 percent oxygen, and most fires require at least 16 percent oxygen content to burn. Oxygen supports the chemical processes that occur during fire. When fuel burns, it reacts with oxygen from the surrounding air, releasing heat and generating combustion products (gases, smoke, embers, etc.). This process is known as oxidation.
Fire Spread in Premises
Once started, a building fire is likely to spread until all fuel has been used up. This could have devastating consequences for your organization. By understanding how fire spreads, you may be better equipped to extinguish it.
- Chemicals and combustibles: When fire comes in contact with lab chemicals, cleaners, paint and other chemicals, the fire burns hotter and more aggressively, encouraging it to spread. Other combustibles commonly found in the organization include Petrol gasoline, Acetone, Methanol etc.
- Open space: A building with limited interior structure burns much faster than one with closed doors. Walls and doors trap the fire and prevent the flames and smoke from spreading. A fire fighting team has a much easier time dousing the flames in a building with more walls and doors, especially if those structures are built to withstand the heat and damage of a fire.
- Ventilation: Buildings with central heating or air conditioning have ductwork, which provides a way for flames and smoke to spread between floors of a building, even when the structure is comprised primarily of concrete and steel.
- Water: In some cases, water is not the best fire extinguisher. Grease fires, for example, can actually spread faster when doused with water. A special fire extinguisher or baking soda should be used to suffocate and stop the spread of grease fires in the place.
Hazards of fire
Fire hazards are workplace hazards that either involve the presence of a flame, increase the probability that an uncontrolled fire will occur, or increase the severity of a fire should one occur.
List of Common Fire Hazards:
- Smoking materials
- Open flame (i.e., candles/incense)
- Electrical (wiring, appliances and equipment) hazards
- Residential furnishings
- Accumulation of combustible materials
- Improper handling and storage of combustible/flammable liquids
- Use of Halogen lamps
- Space heaters
- Hot work hazards (i.e., cutting, welding)
The first step in implementing a fire prevention plan is to educate workers. Employees must be able to take necessary action to prevent fires, successfully use a fire extinguisher and understand their role and responsibilities when responding to an emergency.
Some of the measures need to be adopted are given below:
- Accessible Equipment:- Make sure all of your fire protection equipment (ie fire extinguishers, control panels, etc.) are easily accessible. Also don’t block the fire sprinklers or fire alarms with anything, such as dust, debris or paint. You don’t want to hinder the functionality of your equipment.
- Proper Disposal:- Discard of any hazardous waste in a metal container that has a lid. Hazardous waste can include anything from oils to chemicals. Even flammable and combustible materials should be properly disposed of in order to prevent fire hazards.
- Regular Maintenance:- Schedule regular maintenance services for all of your fire protection equipment to make sure everything is up to code. It’s also smart to make sure any machines in your building are properly maintained in order to prevent overheating or sparks created from friction.
- Safe Storage:- If you have chemicals, flammable materials or other hazardous substances in your building, you will want to make sure they are stored in a safe place. Make sure they are in a dry, secure closet or room that has adequate ventilation. It’s also a good idea to keep fire protection equipment for flammable substances near the storage area just in case.
- Clean Environment:-There are many reasons that you should keep your building neat and tidy. One of the main reasons is because when there’s a lot of clutter, especially flammable materials such as paper, boxes, etc., then a fire can spread faster. The clutter could also block exits and make it harder to escape if there is a fire. So make sure to keep the inside of your building clean and clutter free.
- Fire Safety Training:- Fire safety demonstrations can go a long way when it comes to the safety of your building. Make sure to teach building occupants how to react to a fire and how to use a fire extinguisher, along with the other fire protection devices. This can help to prevent a fire from spreading if one does occur in your building.
- Designated Smoking Area:- There should be a designated smoking area that’s a safe distance away from the building. Also make sure to provide ashtrays or other safe options for people to properly extinguish and dispose of their cigarettes. This will help keep your building safe from accidental fires caused by lit cigarettes.
- Emergency Plan:- Emergency and evacuation plans are important to prevent further damages or issues if there’s a fire. It’s important that if someone needs to call for help, they know what to do, how to easily find the building address, and what the next steps should be. Fire prevention is just as important after a fire has already started because it can reduce the risk of it spreading, which can lead to more damages.