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Fire Safety in the Workplace

Updated: Apr 8

woman working in a cafe

When it comes to fire safety, most people tend to think about their homes. They plan fire escape routes for their families, make sure their fire alarms are functioning, and try to avoid causing fires when cooking and leaving the house. But our homes aren’t the only places we dwell in during the day; millions of Americans also spend eight hours a day in workplaces across the country. And we tend to be focused on, well, our work when we’re in these office spaces. Thoughts of meetings, deadlines, and customers occupy our thoughts—not how we’d escape our cubicles in the event of a fire!

Because fire safety isn’t often a topic covered in a standard weekly staff meeting, or discussed during your employee orientation when you’re hired, listed below are some office fire safety tips from to get you and your coworkers prepared so you won’t have this kind of reaction to fire in the workplace.

Before a fire happens:

  1. Conduct regular mandatory fire drills at least twice a year.

  2. Post building evacuation routes throughout workplace buildings.

  3. Employees with special needs should be included in the emergency planning process.

  4. Make sure fire exits and doorways are never blocked or locked. Promptly report any signs of malfunction or blockage to building management.

  5. Know the location of the nearest fire alarm, how to use it, and be familiar with its signal.

  6. Learn the location of the two nearest exits from your work area.

  7. Count the doors, desks, workstations, etc. between your workspace and the nearest exit: because of smoke or a power failure, an escape in the dark may be necessary.

In the event of a fire:

  1. Call 911 – don’t assume anyone else has called for help. When talking to emergency personnel, remain calm and give the dispatcher as much information as you know.

  2. Never take the elevator during a fire. You may be trapped if the power goes out.

  3. Feel a door handle with the back of your hand for hear, then, feel the door itself, starting from the bottom and moving to the top. If the door is hot, do not open it as smoke and flames may rush into the room. If the door is cool, open it slowly and be prepared to quickly shut it if smoke or heat rushes in.

  4. Leave quickly, closing doors as you go to contain fire and smoke.

  5. If you encounter smoke or flame during your escape, use another exit. Heat and smoke rise so cleaner air will be near the floor. Get as low as possible to the floor and move toward the exit.

  6. Once outside, move away from the building and stay out until emergency personnel say it is safe.

  7. If coworkers are still inside, notify firefighters. Don’t attempt to rescue coworkers yourself once you’ve made it outside.

If you cannot escape safely:

  1. If you cannot escape safely, remain calm and protect yourself by closing as many doors as possible between you and the fire.

  2. Seal all cracks where smoke can enter by using wet materials – jackets, towels, etc.

  3. If there’s a telephone in the room where you’re trapped, call the fire department emergency number and tell them exactly where you are.

  4. Wait at a window if possible and signal for help by waving an object that can be seen from a distance.

  5. If possible, open a window for air, but do not break it as you may need to close the window if smoke rushes in.

  6. Try to remain patient as rescue can take several hours.

We hope you’ll share this information in your workplace and make sure that your office is prepared to evacuate safely and efficiently in the event of a fire!

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