What to do if there is a fire in your business

In this piece, we look at why you should be fighting fire with knowledge.

There you are, typing ferociously into the evening, finishing off contracts and quarterly reports in the strip-lit loneliness of your office. No one else is around, the rich tap-tap-tapping of your keyboard the only noise you can hear.

But then a curious smell hits you. It smells like burning.

You pinch your nose and wander around the sea of cubicles as plumes of smoke billow around you. That’s it, the building’s on fire! Running for the exit, you spot the flames at the end of the corridor, blocking your only escape route.

This is it, you think, This is how I go. But noticing an open window, you make one last effort, leaping outside, two floors down, and landing on a mattress in a skip as flames erupt through your windows, sending molten plastic and metal and computer parts plummeting into the car park with a dark, heavy thud.

You were lucky. But not every small business owner can get away with such haphazard fire regulations. What can you do to make sure no one is trapped in flames in your workplace?

Shield your walls

You probably don’t think about it regularly, but the piffling plasterboard of your office will be taken out by flames like a knife through warm butter.

However, products like Durasteel, a blast proof wall that can deflect flames for up to four hours, can help you escape from fire in time to make your escape and call the emergency services.

Back to basics

The classics are the best for a reason – and they’re completely necessary for fighting fire.

Items like fire alarms, extinguishers, blankets and hoses are, in fact, legal requirements under current legislation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve on them. Go above and beyond. Invest in sprinkler systems, place a fire extinguisher by every desk and consult a fire safety official to ensure you’re on the right track.

It might seem like gilding the lily, but when it comes to the safety of your office, no effort is too much effort.

Know the score

You could be so knowledgeable about fire safety that it’d be your specialist subject on Mastermind, but what good is that if your employees aren’t in the loop? Without regular fire safety tutorials, you can never ensure the safety of your workers.

Again, this falls under basic legislation, but many companies merely point to fire exits and have done with it. To ensure every one of your employees understands their responsibility to fire safety, point out every fire exit, your outdoor assembly point and make sure they know how to operate all equipment available to them.

That phrase fight fire with fire has always been patent nonsense – instead, you should be fighting fire with knowledge.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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Health and Safety

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