This week, October 9-15, 2022, is National Fire Prevention Week. And while the focus this year is on home fire escape plans, it is important to recognize that fires in the workplace can be just as dangerous, if not more so. Employees may be injured or even killed; damage can quickly add up to millions of dollars. Fortunately, there are several actions that businesses and government offices can take to avoid the danger of workplace fires and minimize their impact.  

Check Smoke Alarms and Smoke Detectors

Have someone (or the local fire department) regularly test your facility’s smoke alarms and smoke detectors. Once a month is recommended but may not be feasible, so at least be consistent, e.g., every three months. Also, consider replacing these devices every ten years to ensure they are properly working. Last but certainly not least, ensure staff knows the location of fire extinguishers (many fires can be quickly extinguished if prompt action is taken).  

Declutter

Ask employees to remove unnecessary items from their desks as clutter, including empty boxes, overfilled storage bins, and stacks of paper, can cause workplace fires to spread significantly faster. Also, check (and re-check) emergency exits and other escape routes to ensure they are free of furniture and other items.  

Avoid Overloading Electrical Sources

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), some electrical failure or malfunction is often responsible for workplace fires. Among the culprits are overloaded circuits, outlets or surge protectors, and extension cords’ overuse (and misuse).   

Keep Fuel Sources Away from Heat-Producing Equipment

Common office items, including copiers, computers, servers, and even lamps, produce a great deal of heat while in use. With that in mind, keeping flammable items, such as paper and cardboard boxes, away from these electrical items is best. 

Conduct Fire Drills and Practice Evacuation