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Fire Safety in the Workplace

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Workplace fires can have devastating effects for people and businesses. Businesses can find premises destroyed, equipment damaged beyond repair and have important data and paperwork lost forever. However important we may think these business assets are, it does not compare to the catastrophic effects of fire on people.

Most fires are preventable, and it only takes a thorough fire risk assessment to identify the hazards and implement safe working conditions to ensure fires don’t start and if they do, are contained by fire designed safety measures.

If your workforce, from senior management to the newest employee understood the basic elements of the fire triangle which highlights how fires are started, You would be able to implement preventative measures that make for a safer working environment and potentially save lives.

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Why is fire safety important in the workplace?

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The obvious answer is Life. FIRE KILLS. Have a look at the statistics in England 2016 – 2017.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row u_row_style=”0″ u_row_paralax=”0″ u_row_scheme=”0″][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

17 DEATHS

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1100 INJURIES

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22000 TOTAL FIRES

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What can cause a fire in the workplace?

The main reasons fires start are:

To prevent the causes of workplace fires, we must first understand fire behavior.

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FIRE TRIANGLE

Fire is the visible product of a chemical reaction called combustion. Combustion occurs through heat, fuel and oxygen.

FUEL must HEAT to its ignition temperature and there must be OXYGEN to sustain the visible flame.

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Energy is required to supply an Ignition source. Take away the heat and there will be nothing to start the fire. Sources of ignition include:

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A fire needs oxygen to grow and continue burning. Oxygen is usually ever present but we can reduce oxygen when we shut windows and doors. Building design can also help by dividing areas into compartments known as compartmentation. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][ct_button size=”big” solid=”1″ has_arrow=”0″ color=”#c66a0d”]FUEL[/ct_button][vc_column_text]

Every substance and material burns. Some materials take longer to reach this temperature than others.  Common sources of fuels include:

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If you take away any of these sources, then a fire does not have the ammunition to get started or it will die out.

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How does fire spread?

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Convection

The transfer of heat through gas.  Heat and smoke forms a moving cloud of hot gases that will rise above cooler air generating a build up of heat at higher points. These hot gases can move around a building through windows open doors and externally through open windows. This is why when there is smoke in the room, you should get as low as possible.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-stop-circle-o” color=”orange” align=”center”][vc_column_text]

Conduction

This is a transfer of heat through a material. A fire may start in one room but the heat can be absorbed by structural metal beams and transfer to other rooms. A great example of conduction is when you stir a pan of hot water using a metal spoon. Eventually the end of the spoon will become hot.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_icon color=”orange” align=”center”][vc_column_text]

Radiation

 The transfer of heat through heat waves. The heat waves produced by a portable heater can ignite an object without coming into direct contact. A good example of heat through radiation is the effects on human skin whilst sunbathing.

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Direct Contact 

This is the most common way fires can spread. Fires will burn when it comes into contact with heat. The heat will build up enough for combustion to occur.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row u_row_style=”0″ u_row_paralax=”0″ u_row_scheme=”0″][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Backdraught and Flashover

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row u_row_style=”0″ u_row_paralax=”0″ u_row_scheme=”0″][vc_column][vc_column_text]Backdraught and flashovers occur after the ignition source has been established and in most cases the fire has had time to develop.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row u_row_style=”0″ u_row_paralax=”0″ u_row_scheme=”0″][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-arrow-circle-left” color=”orange” align=”center”][vc_column_text]

Backdraught

occurs when a fire has burnt up all or most of the oxygen within its surroundings. This usually happens in a compartment that is poorly ventilated. The hot smoke and gases will remain in the compartment. The compartment is now rich in heat and fuel and only requires a burst of oxygen to be introduced to have an explosive effect.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-arrow-circle-o-right” color=”orange” align=”center”][vc_column_text]

Flashover

occurs during a developing fire. The fire is rich in all sources of combustion and therefore gives off super-heated gases. Once these gases reach their ideal temperature they ignite into flames and the fire becomes fully developed. Like backdraught this transition is explosive.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row u_row_style=”0″ u_row_paralax=”0″ u_row_scheme=”0″][vc_column][vc_column_text]Backdraught and flashover are deadly even to the fire services. This is the reason that you must GET OUT and STAY OUT of any building involved in fire.

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What is a fire hazard in the workplace?

A hazard is anything that can cause harm. Here are a few examples of how a fire can cause harm, even death[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Smoke inhalation – This is the main cause of fire deaths. By nature we misjudge the dangers of smoke. We think because smoke is not a physical barrier we can easily pass through it unharmed. In fact, firefighters refer to smoke as ‘hot gases’ and would never move through it without specialist breathing apparatus. Its important to understand the make up of smoke. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]This toxic cloud is made up of:

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Other fire hazards

Lack of escape route – If there is no sufficient planned route or a fire is blocking an area, this can cause people to be trapped.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row u_row_style=”0″ u_row_paralax=”0″ u_row_scheme=”0″][vc_column][vc_icon icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-circle” color=”orange” align=”center”][vc_column_text]

Human behavior

It is difficult to quantify how much of a role people play in accidental fires. However, studies have shown that human behaviour often plays a part in injury or loss of life during a fire. This behaviour is not only identifiable but more importantly preventable.

Here is a list of common traits shown in humans during a fire emergency.

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Lear more about FIRE PROTECTION

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