Every year, structural fires cause billions of dollars in damages. In 2018 alone, the damage caused by these fires was valued at $11.1 billion.
As a business owner, a fire is likely one of your worst nightmares. You can’t always prevent fires from happening. However, you can take steps to protect your business and keep all of your employees safe in the event that a fire occurs.
Read on for some helpful tips you can follow to create an effective, easy-to-follow fire protection plan.
Why You Need a Fire Protection Plan
There are lots of reasons why a fire protection plan matters for your business. The following are some of the most noteworthy reasons to keep in mind:
Protect Your Employees
Every business owner wants to know that their employees are safe and out of harm’s way. With the right fire protection plan, it’ll be easier for you to know where your employees are and protect them from being injured should a fire take place at your office.
Fire damage is expensive to repair. In addition to the damage to your property itself, there’s also the cost of lost productivity and employee salaries to think about. Sure, insurance will cover some of the costs, but it’s still not good for your bottom line to have a fire on your hands.
If you have a thorough, well-planned fire safety protocol in place, you can minimize the amount of damage (and the expenses associated with it) that occurs even if a fire does break out. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely applies here.
How to Create One for Your Business
Okay, you can see why you need a fire protection plan for your business. You might be wondering, though, where to begin when it comes to creating one. Here are some steps you can follow to ensure all your bases are covered:
Schedule a Meeting
Start by scheduling a meeting with an official from your local fire station. Ask them to come to your business and take a look around to identify potential hazards and help you figure out the best ways to get out of the building if a fire were to occur.
Imagine Different Scenarios
While you’re assessing your office and considering risks, think about different scenarios that could cause a fire.
Where would the fire break out? What would start it? Who would it affect first?
Answering these questions can help you fine-tune your safety plan.
Hold Training Sessions
It’s imperative that all of your employees know the fire safety plan for your office.
Hold meetings and training sessions to teach everyone about what they should do if a fire breaks out, as well as what they can do to prevent a fire from happening. You may need to hold meetings at several different times to accommodate everyone’s schedules, but it’s worth it to keep all your workers in the loop.
Assign Roles and Responsibilities
During your meetings, assign different roles and responsibilities to members of your staff. For example, you may want to make someone the chief fire warden for your office. It’ll be that person’s job to put the fire safety plan in motion and ensure everyone responds in the appropriate way.
Determine Communication Methods
Figure out how you’re going to communicate with your staff during a fire, too. You may want to consider using an alert system or having everyone communicate via text or through a specific app to ensure they all stay informed.
Plan Evacuation Routes
During the meeting, make sure all of your employees are aware of the various evacuation routes they can use to get out of the building in the event of a fire. Take everyone through these routes so they can find them easily should they ever be necessary.
Identify and Inspect Your Tools
Show everyone where you store the fire extinguishers. Ensure everyone knows how to use them, and check that they’re all in good working order, too.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to fire safety. Take everyone through the evacuation and response plan so that they know it by heart. It might seem silly at first, but it may end up saving lives in the future.
Consider Unique Situations
When putting together your plan, think of unique situations that could affect your business.
For example, how will you let remote employees know about the fire? They won’t need to evacuate, but they’ll still need to know that something happened at the main office.
Protect Your Assets
Think about the steps you can take to protect your business’s most valuable assets, too.
For example, are there important files you can store in a fireproof safe? Can you store important data in the cloud so you can access it anywhere and at any time?
Tips for Preventing Fires
Fires aren’t 100 percent preventable. You can do a lot to save your business from fire and smoke damage, though, including implementing these strategies:
- Store fire safety equipment in easily accessible locations
- Dispose of flammable or combustible materials in the proper way
- Store chemicals and flammable materials in the proper way
- Keep the building clean and clutter-free
- Invest in good building security to prevent arson
Following these steps can reduce your risk of dealing with a fire, and all the damage a fire can cause, in a significant way. Many of these tips are quite easy to implement, too, so there’s no excuse not to follow through with them.
Establish Your Plan Today
Now that you know more about the importance of a solid fire safety plan, as well as how you can create one for your business, it’s time to get to work.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll have no trouble putting together a fool-proof fire protection plan. Don’t forget to follow our fire prevention tips as well to reduce your chances of having to use your safety plan.
If you need more advice on keeping your office safe, check out our other business articles today. You’ll find lots of helpful tips and tricks in these resources.