Make fire safety planning a 2012 business priority

By Mark Gowans, managing director, Wormald ANZ

Unfortunately fires are all too common in businesses and without basic fire fighting and protective equipment serious damage could occur.  Regardless of what industry you operate in or the size of your business, fire protection should be an important priority.

A study conducted by Wormald last year revealed that a high percentage of small businesses are not adequately prepared for a fire.  I was alarmed to see that 45% of respondents in regional areas admitted to not having a fire extinguisher onsite.

As the New Year brings an opportunity to reflect and plan for 2012, this is a time for business owners to assess their existing fire safety equipment and systems and make improvements where necessary.

When purchasing portable fire protection equipment, there are many things to consider:

•    Assess potential fire hazards around your office and identify the fire protection products you require
•    Take some time to research the range of products available and make sure you select the ones that carry the correct approval
•    Ensure you position your equipment in accordance with applicable regulations e.g. Building Code of Australia, relevant Australian Standards or local fire services requirements
•    Ensure that all employees are trained on how to use portable fire protection equipment
•    To ensure optimal performance, have your equipment regularly inspected and maintained in accordance with applicable standards and regulations. You should also seek advice from a fire protection specialist

Our research also found that 61% of small businesses do not have evacuation procedures in place.  When a fire occurs, employees often rely on direction from management on what to do and where to go.  By not having an evacuation procedure in place, business owners are putting their staff and property at potential risk.  Evacuation procedures should be in place in every business and should be practiced regularly to ensure everyone is as prepared as possible.

It can take years to build up a business, but it can all be lost in a short time if a fire occurs.  It is important to be prepared.

Here’s a handy small business fire safety fact sheet from NSW Fire Brigades, which includes some fire safety tips.

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