5 Fire Prevention Tips for Your Office

You know about fire prevention safety in your home, but what about fire prevention safety in your office? Many of us probably don't think about this, but everybody who works in an office environment has to do his or her part to ensure fire safety. Here are 5 fire prevention tips for your office that everyone needs to know:

• Don't allow smoking indoors, EVER.

Most places have made smoking indoors illegal, but if you haven't, this is arguably the most important of the 5 fire prevention tips for your office. Careless smoking causes fires and should only be done outside.

• Make sure everyone knows where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.

Include fire extinguisher locations and instructions for use in your new employee handbook. If a small fire does start, it is much easier to squelch if employees are prepared. Locate fire extinguishers in visibly and clearly marked places throughout the office and building. If you need different types of fire extinguishers to address different environments within your office or plant, make sure employees know which are which, and when to use them. It may be a good idea to drill employees every so often (roughly every six months) on fire safety and exit locations.

• Store hazardous materials in designated areas and handle them safely.

If your office or plant uses hazardous materials that are flammable, store them in designated areas; handle flammable liquids with caution, and establish a protocol in the event of an accident.

• Clean up paper files and piles.

Albert Einstein famously said, "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" So a cluttered desk may be fine, since some people work better if they have some "clutter" in front of them, especially for those who are particularly "visual." However, even in this digital age offices are stacked with paper, and this is a serious fire hazard. Keep paper clutter at a minimum. To do this:

o File it.

Whenever possible, file paperwork in a filing cabinet, preferably one made of metal. Pressboard or wood filing cabinets may look pretty, but they catch fire, too.

o Digitize it.

Cloud backups have become so commonplace that your business probably uses them to back up files. You can do this for yourself, too. Even if you absolutely must have a paper copy in front of you when you're working, go digital once you're done with it and just need to save it as a record.

o Encourage employees to throw away recyclable paper in designated spaces.

Place large paper recycling bins in designated spots throughout the building, or in one designated room. At the end of the day, make sure all unwanted paper ends up there.

o Schedule regular paper pickups.

Schedule paper recycling pickups at least weekly to avoid a fire hazard.

• Keep electronic equipment in working order.

Office equipment can catch fire when it's not clean or doesn't have enough ventilation, etc. Make sure all electronic equipment is in good working order and properly serviced. Today's safety measures, such as automatic shutdown for computers and other equipment that overheat and safety sprinkler systems, can make us complacent – but it's still a good idea to make sure equipment is in good working condition for productivity as well as fire safety.

About the author of 5 Fire Prevention Tips for Your Office:
Carolyn Kidd is the Director of Marketing of DRIFIRE® in Chicago, IL. DRIFIRE is a leading provider and developer of flame resistant (FR) fabrics, FR clothing and protective apparel to the government, industrial and consumer markets.

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