Heat's Rising: Business and High Rise Fire Safety
Don't let flames like these engulf your business
Imagine this, you’re handcuffed to your desk, 7:00 pm, typing furiously to finish you financial quarterlies. In the vast sea of cubicles on your floor, yours is the only one lit. The only sound breaking the silence is your tap-tap-tapping of a 100 words a minute.
But then you smell something pungent – it’s the deadly whiff of smoke.
You peer above your desk, like a soldier looking above a parapet, and see black smoke billowing around the vast expanse of your office.
Gingerly, you head for the nearest corridor, only to spot orange flames licking at the walls. You run for the next exit, but the rage of burning blocks your way.
There’s only one thing for it – with a warlike cry, you leap out the office window, two stories down, and land in a skip below.
You were lucky – according to government statistics, fire departments attended more than 192,600 burning buildings, and not everyone escaped with their lives.
As sirens blare in the distance, you have time to reflect. What should your business do to prevent narrow escapes like yours? How can it ward off the flames?
Have a blast (ceiling)!
It might not look it, but that ceiling above your head is as vulnerable to fire and gas explosions as anywhere else in your office. With the intensity of the heat, those plaster board surfaces will deteriorate like butter in a kiln.
More than this, a ceiling on fire could cause structural damage to your entire building. A wall collapsing is bad enough, but the injuries you’ll suffer when a wall caves in on you could prove catastrophic.
The solution – call in some heavy reinforcements.
Invest in a blast ceiling from a reputable supplier to protect your office from explosions for up to four hours. So if a fire is creeping around your ceiling, you’ll have plenty of time to escape the danger zone and get on the blower to the emergency services.
Get tooled up
The office that’s prepared is the office that can fight flames. But you’d be amazed at the number of bosses settling for a “that’ll do” approach when it comes to fire protection.
You should be kitted to the teeth with fire extinguishers, blankets, alarms, sprinklers and anything else to stop you falling foul of a burnt down office.
While escape should always be your first option, having the tools to hand to combat flames can, at the very least, put your mind at ease – and remind your employees to stay vigilant.
Make everyone know the score
It’s no good acting like a flame-fighting maverick if your employees don’t know the first thing about safety.
Set up seminars from real fire attendants, send out regular emails, detail exit strategies and let your employees know that your door is always open to any questions or queries when it comes to your company’s fire policy.
Knowledge is key to stopping your building burning to cinders – so make sure every employee is on the same page.
About the Author: Ivan Widjaya is the Owner/Editor of Noobpreneur.com. He is a web property investor, blogger and web property builder.
SERVPRO of Edmonton Southside Smoke and Soot Cleanup
Smoke and Soot Damage Can Cause a Pervasive Odor in Your Home.
Smoke and soot are very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Edmonton Southside will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber
- Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood
- Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
- Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today! 780-784-7777
Holiday Fire Safety Tips
To ensure a Merry Christmas and fire safe Holiday Season for everyone, the Saint John Fire Department suggests the following fire safety guidelines be observed:
Grease and fat fires are a leading cause of home fires in Canada, so be extra careful when doing this kind of cooking. Here's what to do if grease in a pot or pan catches fire:
- Smother the flames by covering the pan with a lid;
- Turn off the heat immediately;
- Use baking soda (flour can be explosive) on shallow grease fires;
- Never turn on the overhead fan, as this could spread the fire;
- Never throw water on a grease fire.
The Christmas Tree
Get a freshly cut tree. It will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard. Try to pick a tree with a strong green colour and noticeable fragrance.
Always test for freshness before buying. A tree with high moisture content is safer. Very few needles should fall when the butt of the tree is tapped on the ground; needles should bend, not break; and the stump should be sticky with resin.
Place the tree in a stand that will hold 2 to 3 litres of water and top it up daily. Make sure it is always immersed in water: If water drops below the trunk, the stem may reseal itself, requiring a fresh cut. Use a tree stand that has widespread legs for better balance.
Do not set your tree up near a heat source such as a radiator, television, fireplace, heating duct or sunny window. It should not block doors.
Never use lighted candles on the tree.
Remove the tree within 10 to 14 days. After that amount of time in a heated building, even the freshest tree can start to dry out.
- Choose decorations that are flame-retardant, non-combustible and non-conductive.If there are young children or pets in your home, avoid very small decorations.
- Avoid using angel hair (glass wool) together with spray-on snowflakes. This combination is highly combustible.
- Do not use metallic ornaments on the tree. If they make contact with defective wiring they could become a shock hazard.
- Use Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certified light strings/sets.
- Use the proper lights for the environment. Indoor light strings/sets should not be used outdoors because they lack weatherproof connections. Some outdoor light strings/sets burn too hot indoors.
- Inspect light strings/set before use. Check for cracked bulbs and for frayed, broken or exposed wires, and discard if faulty.
- Do not use electric light strings/sets on metallic trees. A faulty system could energize the tree and shock or electrocute anyone coming into contact. Illuminate metallic trees with colored floodlights placed at a safe distance from the tree and out of reach.
- Turn off all tree and display lights before retiring for the night or before leaving the house.
- Place candles away from absolutely anything that could catch fire.
- Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Burn them only when a responsible adult is overseeing the flame.
- Put candles in sturdy holders on a stable surface, well away from drafts, curtains, children and pets.
- Snuff them out before leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.
- Don't hang Christmas stockings from the mantel when the fireplace is in use.
- Always use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
- Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Use only seasoned and dried wood.
- Never leave the fire unattended or let it smolder.
- Clean the ashes regularly. Place the ashes in a metal container and store outside away from flammable materials.
- Don't use Christmas trees for firewood.
- There is often a tendency to overload wall outlets during the holiday season. This is an unsafe practice and should be avoided even for short durations.
- Inspect all cords before using. Make sure they are CSA certified. Look for loose connections or frayed or exposed wire. Discard any defective cords. Read the labels and manufacturer's instructions to ensure proper use.
- Insert plugs fully into outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.
- To avoid possible overheating, do not coil or bunch an extension cord which is in use and do not run it under carpets or rugs.
Tips provided from Alberta Fire Safety Association.