Are Your Employees Prepared to Put Out Fires?

Put Out Fires

Employee Training and Fire Safety

You teach them and reteach them. You train and guide them. Hopefully, you’ll have such great employees you can actually leave work one day. If you know that your employees are well-trained in “putting out fires” you trust them. But, would you trust in an emergency? Say, a fire? I hope so. But if not, read on. These easy tips will have your employees trained in fire safety in no time flat.

How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Get your employees to gather around a fire extinguisher. It is an owner’s job (or their proxy – managers who are reading this) to ensure their employees can locate and use a fire extinguisher.

You might have other fire equipment, but this is the first line of defense against an incipient (small, just started) fire. No, don’t start a fire! Just have them identify where the fire extinguisher is. Ask them how to use it. Have them read the label. Ask again. If you have more than one fire extinguisher, make them find them all!

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It’s pretty basic. Your employees need to know where your fire extinguishers are and how to use them. The instructions on the front show the PASS method. If you want to seem fancy, explain it to them as follows.

PASS Method

Pull the pin (this pin does not allow the extinguishing agent out when the level is squeezed. It’s like safety).

Aim at the base (point the hose at the base of the fire).

Squeeze the lever (fancy word for handle). If nothing happens, you may have forgotten step 1.

Sweep. No, not with a broom. Use the hose and lever to create a sweeping motion at the base of the fire.

How to Inspect a Fire Extinguisher

Next, teach and assign employees to perform your monthly fire extinguisher inspection. You can even put one in charge of making a short chart with date, fire extinguisher locations, and initials of the employee who performed the inspection. These are great to show to your fire marshal and insurance agent.

Employees should check:

  1. That all fire extinguishers are in their correct location
  2. The pressure gauges read charged (green)
  3. The instructions are visible and facing forward
  4. The fullness of the extinguisher. Heft the extinguisher (pick it up). It should feel full.
  5. Look for any problems (dents, gouges, corrosion, missing pieces, bees living in the hose, etc.)
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If the gauges are indicating a recharge, fire extinguishers are missing or damaged, you should take a picture and call or email your locally licensed fire extinguisher and equipment company.

Drill, drill, drill

Not literally, but this one is fun. If you like your employees, advise them when and where the fun will happen. If not, they may act strangely. You are having a workplace fire drill. Remind employees not to pull the fire alarm, use the extinguisher, or do other fool-hardy things during the drill.

You’ll want to see that employees know where all of the exits are. That they are well lit. The exits should be clear and free of debris. You should know whether or not the fire doors are locked (generally they will say fire door, keep closed/locked).

Did the employees do a head count? Did they count the customers? Do you have a meeting place? Did everyone make it out in a timely fashion?

These are considerations for your fire safety plan. They are also ways to teach your employees. I’d recommend pointing out the good, retraining in areas that were unsuccessful and continuing to have the yearly fire drill for new employees or as things change.

Documentation or CYA

Once you’ve smoothed out the emergency processes, write them down. Write down the location of your fire extinguishers, what month(s) they are serviced, which employee is in charge of monthly inspections, and your plan for safety in the event of a fire.

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In addition to these tips, you can train an employee to interact with your fire equipment and service providers. You will need your fire extinguishers serviced annually. Fire extinguisher technicians provide education and can answer any technical questions your employees may have. You can add these to the written plan. The insurance agents and fire marshal will know your commitment to safety. Future employees will also have a pre written plan for success. As long as you share it with them.

Training Manuals

Speaking of sharing the information. Add the steps you have performed to your training manuals. They may only be a short blurb, but they could help save a life or two. A training manual saves you time. And, it might just prevent your business from burning to the ground.

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About the Author: John Watson

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