As an office manager, protecting your employees, property, and assets are vital to the smooth running of your business or organization. One dangerous hazard that can wreak havoc on any type of office space is a fire emergency.
A key component to protecting your resources (lives, equipment, etc.) from a fire is properly identified and working fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers are the first line of defense in controlling and diffusing small breakout fires that might occur in your office or commercial property—that is only if they are used correctly and inspected regularly.
The best fire extinguisher for most office buildings is going to be an ABC multi-purpose fire extinguisher. ABC fire extinguishers are the best fire extinguishers for putting out fires caused by things like trash, paper, cloth, etc., making them appropriate for most offices.
The “ABC” of ABC fire extinguishers indicates the classes of fires that the extinguisher will be able to diffuse:
Note: if you need to use an ABC fire extinguisher in your office, make sure you clean it up right away. The chemical in these fire extinguishers is mildly corrosive and can potentially damage any surfaces it lands on (just be sure you wait until after the fire is out before you start scrubbing!).
Since you can’t predetermine where a fire will break out, fire extinguishers should be placed throughout your workspace. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that in offices, one fire extinguisher should be available for every 3,000 square feet of office space.
You won’t know where a fire may break out—maybe in the office kitchen after an employee birthday party or in the back stairwell. Having your fire extinguishers strategically placed throughout your office is important so that employees can efficiently diffuse a small, controlled fire if one were to happen.
Imagine you have installed the recommended fire extinguishers throughout your office and a fire breaks out. An employee is able to grab the canister and uses proper technique (see below), but nothing happens. No one has tested or inspected the fire extinguishers since they were installed and the gauge shows they are not charged!
Regular checks, both by yourself or coworkers and by a professional fire protection company, are crucial to preventing that situation.
Monthly, you should walk around your office to all of the fire extinguishers and check that the needle on the pressure gauge is in the green area. This can obviously be done on your own without the help of a fire protection services company. If you see a fire extinguisher with a low pressure gauge, call a fire protection services company right away to fix the problem and get your fire extinguisher back up to snuff.
Fire extinguishers need inspection and general service from a professional fire protection company at least once a year. If you also notice that your fire extinguisher has lost pressure (the needle on the pressure gauge is no longer in the green zone) or if you have used your fire extinguisher to put out a fire, schedule a fire extinguisher inspection as soon as possible. During a fire extinguisher inspection, your fire extinguisher will be checked for damages and refilled (if necessary), so that your fire extinguisher will be ready to protect your work property the next time you need it.
Having appropriate and working fire extinguishers is only the first step. If no one knows how to use them, your portable extinguishers will be pretty useless in the event of a real fire.
Training your employees is another important step in protecting your office if a fire occurs. It’s important not to train just a few managers or employees—what if they are at a conference during a fire emergency or called in sick that day?
Everyone in your office should remember P.A.S.S. when operating a fire extinguisher:
The most important lesson when training your office workers to use a fire extinguisher is when not to attempt to fight a fire with a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers should only be used when a small fire is controlled and not growing anymore. It’s not worth the risk of injury or life to fight a growing fire—always call 9-1-1 in the event of a fire.
If you are looking for fire response training for you and your employees in the Houston area—including operating your fire extinguisher, testing fire alarms, creating emergency exit routes, and more—contact us at Kauffman Co. today. Our experienced fire protection technicians can help you design appropriate plans of action and train your employees in preparation for a fire emergency in your office space.
If your office is located in the Houston, Texas area, Kauffman Co. is your go-to company for all your fire extinguisher needs. Whether you need to schedule an annual fire extinguisher inspection or drop by our office for an immediate recharge or refill of your fire extinguishers, contact us today!
If you are not sure when you should schedule your next fire extinguisher inspection, maintenance, or test for your offices, we’ll be glad to help you. Our family-owned fire protection services company can service your fire extinguishers and provide fire protection training to ensure your workplace will always be protected in the event of a fire emergency.
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