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Fire Safety

Fri 5th Apr, 2024 Safety

Hopefully, fires in the workplace are uncommon for you. Which means it is even more essential to remind your staff of the steps to take in the event of a fire.

Small fires the size of a small trash can may be easily extinguished using your fire extinguisher.  A simple way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is by using the acronym of PASS.  No, that does not mean you pass it to someone who knows how to use it, but it is what you need to do when you are using a fire extinguisher.

P – Pull the pin out of the fire extinguisher

A – Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire

S – Squeeze the handles together.  Be ready for the fire extinguisher to kick back at you when you squeeze the handle.  Keep a tight grip on it!

S – Sweep back and forth at the base of the fire

Ideally, if these four steps are performed appropriately the fire should be out.  If your fire extinguisher does not work, or it runs out of chemical, you should evacuate immediately.  If the fire is the size of a desk or larger, your fire extinguisher will not have enough chemical in it to put out a fire that large.  In this case, you should pull another acronym from your great book known as your brain.  This time, you should remember to RACE.  Before you ask, it does not mean that you are to race other people out of the building.

R – Rescue anyone in immediate danger. If someone is passed out due to smoke inhalation or fear, grab them by their hair, arms, or legs and drag them out of the building to a safe place

A – Alarm activation — get the firefighters on their way as quickly as possible

C – Contain the fire using a fire extinguisher to put it out or by closing doors on your way out (please don’t shut the door on people)

E – Evacuate the building and get to your pre-determined meeting place

Once you have made it out of the building, try to account for all the people that were inside of your office at the time of the fire.  That includes patients and employees!  Please remember that it is the firefighter’s job to run into a burning building, not yours.  When the emergency services arrive, inform them of anyone who was left inside and their last known location within the building.

Reducing Chances of Fire

Knowing what to do in the event in a fire is a great thing, but even more important is making sure that everything is done to prevent fires from occurring in the first place.  It is always important to remember the fire triangle.  That is in order for a fire to exist, three specific conditions must be met:

  • First, a fire needs fuel.  Anything that is flammable can act as fuel, including but not limited to paper, hand sanitizer, and clothing
  • Second, a fire needs a source of oxygen.  Most fires can burn normally with the 21% oxygen level in the air, but if you reduce the amount of air being supplied to the fire (e.g. smothering) it will slow down or go out completely
  • While we all have combustible materials laying around exposed to air, most of us probably notice that none of that stuff is spontaneously catching fire.  The reason is because fires require an ignition source like a spark, open flame, or increasing a combustible material to a temperature above its auto-ignition point.  This point for paper is around 425-475°F

Remove any one of these three items and a fire can not occur.  So remember, keep combustible materials away from high temperatures and ignition sources like sterilizers, hot water heaters, open flames, electrical outlets, and sparks.

Five Leading Causes of Fires

  • Cooking – Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires by far, accounting for 48% of all reported residential fires.
  • Heating – Portable heaters are the second-leading cause of home fires. They cause so many fires because many homeowners don’t follow the spatial requirements required of these items. 
  • Electrical Fires – Fires caused by malfunctioning electrical outlets or faulty wiring account for a large portion of household fires.
  • Smoking – Smoking cigarettes, cigars, and pipes are the leading cause of deaths in home fires, though they only account for 5% of all home fires.
  • Candles – Candles account for 3% of all home fire deaths, a candle should never be left unattended and should be extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed.