Office fires are not as uncommon as one would hope. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the five most common causes of fires in commercial buildings are:
- Cooking Equipment
- Heating Equipment
- Electrical & Lighting Equipment
- Smoking Materials
Whether you are a facilities manager or an office worker, there are things you can do to ensure fire safety in your office environment. Here are a few tips to help you:
1. Inspect & Test Electrical, Mechanical and Steam Systems
Periodic preventive and predictive infrared inspections safeguard against the hazards of electrical, mechanical and steam system malfunctions by identifying hotspots before equipment failure or fire occur.
2. Locate the Nearest Fire Extinguisher
A fire extinguisher is your first line of defense in a fire. If you detect a small fire, you may choose to extinguish it using a portable fire extinguisher. It is a good idea to look and see where the fire extinguishers are located throughout your office so you know exactly where to retrieve one in the case of an emergency.
3. Ensure Emergency Exits Are Well-Marked & Well-Lit
Emergency exit lights and signage must be clearly visible to ensure safe building evacuation. In addition to annual inspections, it is important to test the batteries and bulbs in your lights and signage to ensure they are working. You can keep track of your testing in a Log Test Book. New York City Local Law 26 also requires glow-in-the-dark photoluminescent lighting egress markers to provide visibility during blackouts and to help building occupants escape in the event of an emergency.
4. Keep Space Heaters at a Safe Distance
Many office workers use space heaters to keep their feet warm. If you are using one, make sure it is positioned at a safe distance from flammable objects, leaving at least three feet of empty space around it.
5. Locate Your Nearest Fire Exit and Know Your Evacuation Plan
Just as you should know where to find a fire extinguisher, it is imperative that you know where all the emergency exits are in your office building and what the evacuation procedures are. Sadly, it is not common in offices to take the time with these very important safety items; but doing so can save lives in the event of a fire.
6. Test Your Fire Alarm System
To comply with NFPA 72 regulations, inspection, testing and maintenance of your fire alarm system is required on a semi-annual basis. A well-maintained fire alarm system keeps office workers and property safe.
7. Have Your Commercial Kitchen Fire Suppression System Inspected
As noted earlier, cooking equipment is one of the five most common causes of commercial building fires. The law requires you to have your commercial kitchen fire suppression system inspected on a semi-annual basis. This will help to prevent the fire from spreading beyond the point of origin.
Whether you are a facilities manager or an office worker, fire safety is everyone’s responsibility. Help to protect your office and your co-workers by doing your part, starting with these basic fire safety tips.
For comprehensive fire protection and life safety services for your New York City offices, contact Total Fire Protection.