Should Your Employees Fight a Small Fire or Evacuate?

Every business needs a comprehensive plan on what to do in the event of a fire. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers guidelines on how best to instruct employees on what to do in an event of a fire.

In instances with a large fire, it’s clear that employees should all evacuate immediately and the fire department should be called. However, you do keep fire extinguishers around the workplace, so wouldn’t you use those in instances of more contained blazes? Read on to learn more about how to respond in the event of a fire.

Should I fight a small fire?

The answer is that you can but only in specific situations. OSHA provides options for employees to fight fires. You can designate some employees as trained on fire extinguisher use or train all employees on fire extinguisher use.

Anyone who fights a fire takes on risk. You need to first designate employees to use fire extinguishers who also can conduct a rapid but thorough risk assessment of the situation. Here are the questions employees trained in fighting fires should ask before using a fire extinguisher:

  • What size is the fire? Fires that are contained in a small area, have not spread and don’t extend above the firefighter’s head are considered small.
  • How is the air quality? If the firefighter can safely breathe the air (i.e., if it hasn’t already become too hot or smoky to breathe), then the risk is deemed lower.
  • Is an evacuation route available? In the event that the employee firefighter is unable to extinguish the blaze, they need a clear route to leave the building quickly. Without this, the risk is deemed too high.

This means that employees trained in fire extinguisher use and fire safety are permitted to deal with smaller blazes. The next time someone leaves a piece of bread in the toaster for too long, an employee trained in fire extinguisher use can take action.

Fire safety training for employees

The fact is that businesses that train their employees in fire extinguisher use end up with fewer fire-related injuries. These employees are also trained in fire risk assessment and fire safety. This training is best done by firefighting professionals and must be refreshed on a regular basis.

It’s also critical that all employees be trained in general fire safety and evacuation methods. This includes providing clear, well-marked routes for leaving the building in the event of an emergency. Pick routes that are least vulnerable to fire, and have your employees conduct fire drills to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

We hope this answers whether you should fight or evacuate when there’s a small fire. When you need essential, dependable fire safety solutions, turn to the pros at Carpet Capital Fire Protection Inc. We have been in the field for more than 40 years, designing and installing safety systems that will work flawlessly if a fire breaks out. Contact us today to learn more about how we can make your workplace safer.