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Fire Protection in the Workplace. Ensuring your Emergency Action Plan addresses critical issues

  • Published
  • By DLA Richmond Fire and EMS, Fire Prevention Office

According to the National Fire Protection Association, every 23 seconds, emergency crews in the United States respond to a fire. While most happen at private dwellings, 77%, the remaining 23% happen in the workplace.

For all of us working on and around Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, a fire happening inside our workspace is probably the last thing on our minds. But they happen and are a real danger. Every year, fires cause billions of dollars in loss property damage and result in thousands of deaths.

Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Richmond’s Security and Emergency Services Division’s Fire and EMS Fire Prevention Section utilizes its Fire Warden Program to assist organizations on the installation with putting together their Emergency Action Plans.

Every workplace (office area, warehouse, construction site, etc.) should have an EAP and all personnel should know what role they play within it. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the purpose of an EAP is to facilitate and organize employer and employee actions during workplace emergencies. The elements of the plan must include, but are not limited to:

  • Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
  • Procedures to account for all employees after an emergency evacuation has been completed
  • Other Important relevant information
  • Plan available for employee review.

Fire Prevention Tips:

Fire Extinguishers

The primary purpose of a fire extinguisher is to assist in clearing an evacuation route if necessary. A secondary purpose is to put out small fires. OSHA, under 29 CFR 1910.157, requires that anyone who may be expected to use a fire extinguisher in the workplace be trained in their use. The first thing that one should be familiar with is that there are several classes of fires:

  • Class A: Ash producing materials, such as wood or paper
  • Class B: Chemical fires, such as gasoline, oils, etc.
  • Class C: Energized electrical fires
  • Class D: Metal fires
  • Class K: Kitchen grease fires

Most fire extinguishers in the work area are classified as ABC, but you need to identify this before discharging them on a fire. A simple acronym for using a fire extinguisher is PASS:

  • Pull the pin.
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the lever.
  • Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

Housekeeping

Good housekeeping can not only prevent workplace injuries, it’s also vital to preventing fires in the office. By maintaining combustible and flammable materials to a bare minimum, the potential for fires is greatly reduced, if not eliminated. Dust also can increase the likelihood of fires or dust explosions. Finally, flammable materials should be stored in flammable materials cabinets.

Electrical Safety

A common occurrence in the office to avoid includes overloading of circuits by using multi-plugs, such as surge protectors. In some instances, there are multi-plugs that are plugged into multi-plugs. (Daisy chaining)

Office Appliances

Coffee pots, microwaves, toasters, etc., are commonplace in an office setting. To prevent fires from these types of appliances they are in the break area where the proper sized amperes for outlets are.

Space Heaters

During winter and cold months, individuals with medical conditions may require space heaters. These requests are submitted through the EEO’s reasonable accommodation Program for approval.

Designated Smoking Areas

Smoking is a major source for potential fires. It is important that smoking only be allowed in designated areas. These areas should be equipped with "butt cans."

To ensure the safety of all personnel, we would like to share with you and your fellow employees the types of services we offer. You can reserve training for your building/bay/or team by calling 804-279-6782 or by emailing dscr.fireprevention@dla.mil. The following services are available upon request:

  • Fire extinguisher training (indoor or outdoor).
  • Evacuation drills.
  • Additional fire and life safety facility/area inspections.
  • Fire safety in the workplace training. Classes can be customized based on time and topics.
  • Occupant Emergency Plan (OEP) assistance.
  • 911 awareness training (cellular and landline).
  • Hand deliver fire safety educational materials.