Fire accidents happen, and they could happen anywhere and anytime—at home, in the workplace, or at any establishment. Apart from endangering lives, fires are also a big blow for any business.
No matter the size of the fire, if it spreads to an inopportune place like storage for expensive equipment or data centers, recovering from the destruction it has caused can prove too extreme for businesses. However, with preventive and safety measures, you can save lives and significantly mitigate the damage to your property and assets.
This is why knowing what to do in case a fire breaks out and adhering to fire prevention best practices is vital for any business. Read on to know more about proper fire protection strategies you can implement for your business.
Fire Safety Premise Measures
Furnishing your property with the right fire safety equipment is a must. Below are some of the basic safety measures and evacuation plans you should pay attention to.
Install fire safety exit signs and alarms
Make sure to invest in fire alarm and detection equipment and have everything checked and regularly tested by professionals to ensure they’re working properly. You must also install emergency lighting and safety exit signs that are easily recognizable on all floor levels and staircases.
Exit sign lights need to be well-lit in zero-visibility environments caused by intense smoke. This can guide the people to know where to egress from a burning building. It’s equally important to ensure that even people with poor vision can see and identify the exit signs even when the power is out.
Establish evacuation routes
In the event of a fire, there must be clear escape routes and strategically placed exits throughout the building, as these are necessary for fire safety. It will also be a big help to place fire evacuation maps on every floor of the building. Instructions on how to evacuate must be placed by the elevator or near the exits.
Incorporate Fire Rated Glazing to Fire Doors to Enable Visual Inspection and Assessment
t’s worth investing in full vision doors like fire-rated glass doors. These vision panels help people evacuate easier since they can see what’s behind the door without opening it. Fire-rated glass products provide low reflection, allowing utmost clarity on doors and windows for rescuers’ and people’s excellent visibility during a fire.
Fire-rated glass is built to provide safety measures. As the name suggests, its specialized material, which is way tougher than regular glass to withstand high temperatures, offers a level of protection against fire hazards. So, it not only keeps flames contained but also shows people where it’s safe to enter with its vision panels.
The building should be designed with unobstructed emergency exits. Installing fire-rated doors like Titan Builders Series 20 Minute Fire Protective Door glazed with SuperLite® I-20, which are rated up to 20 minutes and tested to NFPA 252/UL 10B/UL 10C, will not only provide a safe avenue for egress but also provide full vision to help evacuees and first responders assess the situation.
For doors that are fire rated to 60 and 90 minutes, full vision is still possible by incorporating fire resistive glazing tested to ASTM E-119/UL 263 like SuperLite II-XL 60 and SuperLite II-XL 90 to a product like the Titan Titan Builders Series Temperature Rise 60-90 Minute Door.
Adding sidelites and transoms to the door assembly with the appropriate fire rated glazing further extends the vision and transparency for added safety.
Know which fire door is best for the application
Fire-resistant doors manage fire and minimize physical and property damage than your typical doors. These fire-rated doors undergo strict testing to pass the national standards and earn their appropriate time-based rating (i.e., 20-, 45-, 60-, 90, and 180-minute labels). These specialized doors are a worthy investment for establishments that aim to have a strong first line of defense against fire hazards and physical security.
However, know that not all fire doors are the same, especially if there is glazing involved to allow for vision. For instance, fire protective and temperature-rise doors are different. Fire protective glass doors like the Titan Builders Series Fire Protective 20-45 Minute Door and the Titan 20 Minute Fire Protective Aluminum Door are created to contain roaring flames and smoke but do not block the transmission of radiant heat.
On the other hand, temperature-rise glass doors like the Titan Builders Series Temperature Rise 60-90 Minute Door can compartmentalize smoke, flames, and extreme levels of radiant heat due to their glazing properties. These doors use fire resistive glazing to exceed the 100 sq. in. vision panel limitation to block radiant heat, preventing other materials from combusting even without direct contact with fire, they allow safer egress for people.
If you’re unsure about which type of fire door is best for your establishment, it’s recommended to consult with a fire door manufacturer to help you choose the most suitable one for your needs.
Keep fire doors closed
Fires quickly spread and reach the other areas of a property through walls and doors. The former requires the flames more time to spread, while the latter provides an easier path due to their low resistance. Meaning, leaving a fire door open will defeat its most critical purpose: to contain and minimize the spread of fire.
Put up a sign on the door or a wall to remind people to close fire doors at all times. Remind them, too, not to lock the door. Fire doors should be closed but not locked. Locking fire doors can be as dangerous as leaving them open as it can trap people inside.
Mind the door swing
Apart from the type of fire door and the practice of reminding people to keep them closed for maximum safety, one thing you should also pay attention to and never overlook is which way the door swings.
It’s important to have your doors swing out in the direction of exit travel leading to the exit route for easy evacuation of the building’s occupants. The door should be either a side-hinge or pivoted swing for ease of access to help prevent people from panicking in response to fire emergencies.
It’s also crucial to ensure adequate space and that there is no obstruction on the other side of the door that could restrict the door swing direction.
Install fire doors with positive latching
One of the features of fire doors is that they self-latch, meaning they have an active latch bolt that is launched when the door closes. This function keeps the fire doors closed and prevents them from being blown open from the pressure created by fire. Essentially, a positive latch is a type that fastens automatically once the door is closed.
Titan Metal Products’ fire door offerings are tested UL 10B and UL 10C. A UL label certifies that the doors are assessed for use as a means of an egress system. This implies that fire doors labeled as such are built to provide adequate protection against negative fire pressure and positive fire pressure.
Update your fire safety equipment
The right fire safety equipment can help prevent fire from breaking out, alert employees and other people in the building about a fire, and control and extinguish it before it spreads to other areas of the facility. These pieces of equipment can include fire alarms, smoke detectors, sprinklers, escape ladders, and fire extinguishers, among others.
And to ensure all of the fire equipment is up and functioning as it should, it’s recommended to have them inspected by professionals. This is especially important for fire-rated doors. Annual fire door inspections ensure your first barrier against fire is well maintained and reliable in addressing emergencies.
Devise and communicate your fire emergency plan
Having fire equipment, fire-rated doors, alarms, and an evacuation route is not enough protection against fire. You also need to have an emergency plan that explains what you should do and details the responsibilities of key employees to carry out a proper evacuation should the worst happen.
You must provide training for your employees on how to evacuate themselves and other people on the premises in case of an emergency. Your employees must know what to do when a fire alarm sets off. Consider carrying out a fire drill at least twice a year to see how the plan works and if there is anything that needs to be corrected.
Fire Safety Employee Measures
Any business must prepare employees on how to react when a fire occurs. Here are some of the best practices to share with your employees for proper education on fire safety.
Train employees in fire safety
Fire can start from a natural disaster or human error. The latter entails accidental gaffes, improper use of equipment, negligence, and the absence of proper fire safety training. As such, employees should be informed about the risks during a fire emergency and how to respond accordingly.
It’s imperative to educate employees on the primary causes of fire and train them on how to use fire equipment like fire extinguishers correctly, how to raise the alarm and evacuate people from the site, where to stay during the fire and what to do, and other fire prevention and safety practices.
Educate employees about the different types of fire extinguishers
Since there are different types of portable extinguishers, it’s best to train your employees on how to use each type if you plan to distribute various types in your building.
Fire extinguishers are handy pieces of equipment that help fight small fires and prevent them from spreading further. It helps to have at least one multi-purpose extinguisher with a guaranteed shelf life on every floor of the building.
Appoint fire captains or wardens
The assigned fire marshals or wardens will require further training than the rest of the employees, as they will be in charge of maintaining fire safety protocols. During training, fire wardens will be informed of what to do and how to react properly in the event of a fire. The goal is to have them guide other employees and guests to the evacuation sites within or outside the building premises.
Maintain an organized workspace
A disorganized, cluttered workspace can be a fire safety hazard. For instance, leaving combustible material in corridors or near electrical wirings could cause fire and jeopardize the safety of the people in the building.
Encourage everyone to keep a tidy and well-organized workspace, and designate a secure space for storing flammable or combustible materials. Make sure emergency equipment is accessible and visible. In addition, all escape routes should be clear of obstructions.
Dispose of trash properly
It’s common to find office cleaning products, styrofoam, and damaged electrical cords in the workplace, which can be dangerous since they are usually flammable.
Make sure there’s proper disposal of office trash to avoid risks of fire. This is especially important for workplaces that house flammable solvents, gasoline, oil, and other fire accelerants. For example, you can store oil-soaked rags and other fire hazard materials in metal containers for disposal. Additionally, you should soak these oily rags in water and detergent to break down the oils and make them less combustible.
Place designated smoking areas
Dropped cigarette butts that aren’t fully extinguished are known to potentially spark fires. You can prevent such careless accidents by establishing a smoking area far from your premises. It also helps to put up a sign reminding smokers to ensure cigarette butts are completely extinguished before throwing them.
Keep an eye on electrical hazards
Exposed electrical cords, overloaded outlets, overheated equipment, and liquids placed close to wires or extension cords can cause a fire. If not handled accordingly, these hazards can subject your business to a fire.
Instruct your employees to reach out whenever they see electrical hazards like defective wiring and cords or outlets, so they can be repaired or replaced. Also, do invite an electrician to ensure your electrical work and management won’t be a fire risk.
Improve Fire Safety
Establishing fire preventive and safety measures in place can significantly reduce the financial and physical repercussions of a fire emergency. Most importantly, it can save lives. One important thing to know is that a comprehensive fire safety plan or measures will be rendered useless if not all employees or people in the building are informed about them.
If you can, invest in fire equipment that can help minimize the spread of fire. Titan Metal Products is a door manufacturer that proudly offers USA-made quality fire-rated doors tested and approved for compartmentalizing smoke, flames, and radiant heat. Get a quote now and upgrade your barrier against fire.