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Fire safety and prevention

An introduction to Fire Safety and Prevention : Complete Guide

Fire comes under the most common reason for the loss in the workplaces. And it is also one of the biggest reasons for the accidental loss of human resources at the workplace. Also, the numbers of fire accidents are not only increasing every year, but they are also becoming dangerous to every year. Even a small fire can cause a lot of loss in the business, so it is really important to have proper fire prevention at the workplace.

Having proper fire prevention equipment is not only the legal compulsion for business owners but also the moral duty of the owner towards their workers. If the workers will feel safe in their workplace, it is evident that they will work with more relax mind and with more efficiency and this will only result in the growth of the business. While many business and workplace offer their workers to get the training regarding the fire prevention and how can they avoid such situations or what they should do at the very first moment, while these training can be obtained online also. And getting the online knowledge is not only convenient but also save lots of time of the person. So before moving towards the prevention methods and details, let’s first understand “What is fire?”

What is fire?

In the layman language, “fire is the process in which the substances combine chemically with oxygen present in the air and resulting in bright light, heat, and smoke. In other words, fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic the chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light and various reaction products.”

Principles of combustion in fire safety

If we have to understand the way to prevent fire and the process of preventing fire, firstly we have to understand what the principles of combustion are; we have to understand what caused the fire, what make these chemical reactions into fire. The first and foremost thing that requires any fire to occur at first place anywhere in the presence of flammable item, that can be anything and in any form, like liquid, solid or even gas. Then the presence of any such the material will act as the ignition source of the fire is must in the area to start the fire and to give the flammable item the cause to start to burn. And then the most important thing to be present to make fire a continuous process of combustion is the air, which contains oxygen.

Surprisingly if any of the above-told things is not present it is impossible to even start a fire, let alone it will become a disaster.

Now when we have discussed what fire is and what causes fire let us see the possible cause of fire and fire spreads.

Principles of combustion

The main causes of fire and fire spread

The studies by Fire Protection Association have put following things in the list of the principal source of the fire in production and storage areas:-

1.) Production Area:-

a)Heat producing plant and equipment

b) Frictional heat and spark

c)Refrigeration plant

d)Electrical equipment

2.) Storage Area:-

a)Any kind of intruder, including children

b) Cigarettes and smoke to be present in the area

c)Refuse to burn

d) Equipment that store materials like packaging materials etc.

After we have seen what is the cause of fire in the production and storage areas, let’s see what Fire Instructions is before we discuss what needs to be done in the case of fire.

Fire in storage area

Fire instructions

Fire Instructions is notice or message that tell you what to in the case if there is any fire around you. It is necessary to go through the notice properly and then follow it accordingly. A notice will always tell you what to do in case you find fire near you or you hear the fire alarm. So never avoid such notices and always stay aware and alarmed. With these notices, a business should always conduct regular fire drills to give knowledge to their employees so that they can act accordingly when there are some accidents at their workplace. And employees should attend these fire drills regularly so that they never fail to act smartly in case of any unfortunate event. Apart these employees should be made aware of the fire alarm present in the workplace so that if employees hear it they can act as soon as possible. Apart this all fire appliances should be grouped and painted accordingly, for example, fire extinguisher should be painted red but there should be different colours for the contents present in the extinguisher, like for water the extinguisher should be labelled with red colour, as well the extinguisher with foam should be labelled with cream colour, same as extinguisher with carbon dioxide should be labelled with black colour, likewise extinguisher with dry chemical powder should be labelled with blue colour and extinguisher with vaporizing liquid should be coloured with green. These colours will make it easy to use the extinguisher in the case of fire and one will the effects and after effects of the same.

Fire alarm systems

Fire the alarm system is a method to aware the people present in the complex where there are any fire accidents. This should be present in every office and workplace so that it can make people aware and give them some time to get themselves out of that situation and also allows them to keep themselves in control so that they don’t panic in such situations. Fire alarms give the people warning before the fire becomes dangerous and reduces the chance of human resources loss at least.

To prevent all these situations Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Orders were made, these orders were enforced by the Area Fire Authority expect in some rare cases, such as:-

1) HSE, in the case of nuclear installation, ships of HM Navy and construction sites.

2) Fire service maintained by Secretary of State for Defence.

3) Fire inspectors in the case of Crown premises and UKAEA premises.

4) The relevant local authority in the case of sports ground and regulated stands.

The order either revokes or repeals all previous fire safety legislation.

There are certain duties and responsibilities of a person when there are any such accidents let discuss what are those and one should full fill such responsibilities and duties towards themselves and others too and especially by an employer.

Duties of responsible persons in relevance to fire safety and prevention:-

1.)        Always take general precautions regarding the safety of the workplace as well as the people working in the premises.

2.)        Even if the person trapped in such situations doesn’t belong to ones work, they are still morally responsible for their safety.

3.)        Always make aware of the possible hazards near them or they are working on so that in any such accidents they are not clueless about the survival.

4.)        Always have your storage area clear of any such intruders that can cause any accidents by mistake.

5.)        Always prepare your workplace and employees to reduce any risk and always try to avoid any risk task.

6.)        Ensure your premises are equipped with all the required types of equipment.

7.)        Make sure your employees and everyone related to your workplace are aware of how to use this equipment properly.

8.)        Make sure they are aware of the fire alarms and fire warnings.

9.)        Ensure everyone on business is aware of the exit plan and that is easy to reach and use.

10.) Make sure everyone has access or make one person responsible to call the authorities which can help them at the fastest.

11.) If the workplace is related to chemicals or with products that are easily flammable, make sure, everyone stays aware of the hazards and how to handle them.

12.) Only responsible person for the work should do the assigned work.

These were the responsibilities of the employer towards their work and workers, so now let see what are the responsibilities of an employee towards his own life and others too.

Duties of employees:-

Every employee is responsible for their own safety and is also responsible for the others around them. If someone is in need every employee should know how to help others too while helping themselves. Every employee should attend the seminars and drill that are conducted in workplaces to give them the idea of what to do in any such case. They should always co-operate with their employer with all the orders that employed on them. They should always inform the authorities as well as their employer about any smallest of accidents even if they encounter one.

Management of Fire Procedures

The authorities should be informed if there is any change in the layout of the workplace. Also, all the employees should be informed about all the fire alarms and prevention present in their workplace. Formal file procedures should be there available in the workplace. Fire prevention and precaution is a key function of the competent persons appointed under the MHSWR.

 

Dr. Akbar did his Masters of Technology in Health, Safety & Environment, Master of Science in environmental studies. and Doctorate in HSE Engineering with thesis on "A Study on Exposure Assessment and Evaluation of Occupational Health Hazards of Carbon Nanotubes". He passed his graduation in environmental management. Dr. Akbar began his professional career in Oil and Gas Exploration Services, his major role there was to provide HSE advice, conduct accident investigation and train senior level staff. He had worked at leading Health and Safety institute as a Chief Examiner in India and later moved on to large number of HSE Training & Consultancy Services where he has been working as a Consultant. Akbar’s career continued with Mitchell Drilling International as HSE Engineer and he went on to become a HSE Advisor. He has more than 20 papers to his credit and has participated in various national & international conferences. He has authored and edited over 12 books on areas of Health, Safety, Fire and Environment., and has also been a contributing editor to various journals. He has also developed e-learning / distance learning course in the above areas. He is a member of various professional bodies like Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), International Institution of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM), Energy Institute (EI), Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA), and also a registered Chartered Engineer. Dr. Akbar has been associated as a HSE consultant with Shiv-Vani Oil & Gas Exploration Services (India); Mitchell Drilling International Pty Ltd (Head Office - Australia); CHSS Gulf FZ LLC (U.A.E.); TWI HSE Training & Consultancy Services, (U.A.E.) and Corporate Safety Solution (India).

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