How many businesses have you visited in a commercial building? Retail stores, restaurants, gyms, and even your doctor’s office may all be housed in a commercial building. In the United States alone, there are more than 26 million businesses operating from buildings with five or more storied. It is important to protect these buildings from fire, which is the third leading cause of death in non-domestic properties after theft and vandalism.
Unfortunately, fires frequently occur every year in buildings across the country, often due to carelessness on the part of business owners. Exposing yourself to potential legal liabilities isn’t something that any company should do — especially when it’s so easy to avoid them! Follow these ten tips below for a safer workplace:
1. Inspect Equipment Regularly for Signs of Wear
Ensure that all electrical and gas equipment is regularly inspected for wear and tear. If you notice any fraying or damage, do not hesitate to call a professional to come to check the equipment — it could save your life.
2. Conduct Regular Fire Drills
Fire drills should take place once a month to help employees become accustomed to the sound of an alarm and how they should respond in case of fire.
These can be as simple as sounding an alarm followed by everyone leaving the building calmly — no need to panic if it isn’t actually ablaze!
3. Make Sure Exit Signs are Well Lit
Exit signs are designed specifically so that people who are fleeing the building can see them easily. However, poorly lit exit signs can be difficult to spot in an emergency.
Be sure that all of your exit signs are well lit with brightly glowing bulbs, and replace any dark ones immediately.
4. Keep Fire Extinguishers Handy
Fire extinguishers should be placed in an accessible position near kitchens, storage rooms, and shops.
It’s a good idea to place a fire extinguisher on every level of a commercial building. You can also attach them to walls or store them in gym lockers — just keep them within easy reach!
5. Ensure that Flammable Liquids are Kept Well Away from Any Source of Heat
Store all flammable liquids far away from any potential source of fire, including electrical appliances, heating equipment, and even sunlight, if possible.
If you use flammable liquids in your business (such as acetone), make sure there is proper ventilation so that vapors don’t accumulate and pose a fire risk.
6. Ensure that All Open Flames are Properly Covered
Many commercial buildings allow the use of open flames for decoration, such as on a restaurant patio or lobby fireplace.
However, these should be properly covered and maintained to avoid any potential ignition sources. You wouldn’t want someone accidentally bumping into a candle and causing an inferno!
7. Use Fire-Resistant Materials for Walls and Ceilings
Avoid using flammable materials in commercial building walls and ceilings wherever possible. Instead, opt for materials that are more resistant to fire, including plasterboard or cement tiles on roofs rather than wood panels and brick instead of drywall.
These materials will help to insulate against heat from a nearby blaze, reducing the risk of damage.
8. Install Smoke Detectors in Key Areas
Install smoke detectors close to the ceiling in every room, as well as on each internal staircase and fire escape route. On each floor, smoke detectors should be installed no more than 10 meters apart.
This will help ensure that everyone knows if there is a problem, regardless of where they are at the time.
9. Ensure That There is a Safe Means of Evacuation
Be sure that all fire escape routes can be easily accessed and that there is an adequate number of commercial fire doors for the size of your building.
Make sure that these routes remain clear at all times, as well as provide easy access to first aid equipment and extinguishers.
10. Make Sure Your Building Has Adequate Firewalls Between Rooms and Floors
Be sure that all walls between rooms and floors have adequate fire resistance ratings — check with your local fire department for advice on what is required by law.
You can also consult a professional building inspector who has access to regulations specific to your area.
The best way to avoid fires in commercial buildings is to follow all safety precautions — even small blazes can severely damage a business. However, should the worst happen and a fire does break out, you’ll be happy if your business has followed these tips? Always put safety first — it will help keep your business and employees safe! Thanks for reading!