Archive for December, 2021

6 Ways to Identify Fire Hazards in Your Building

Posted: December 15th, 2021

According to the Ministry of the Solicitor General, there were more than 110,000 fires in Ontario between 2010-2019, resulting in billions of dollars in damages and hundreds of fatalities. With both property and human life at stake, fire hazard identification is the responsibility of business owners, property managers, and every employee. 

While a regularly scheduled inspection can help identify fire hazards, everyone working in a commercial facility should be able to spot potentially dangerous situations. Once you’re familiar with the most common ways fires begin, you and your staff should be able to easily spot the most common hazards and correct them before they ignite.

1) Smoking Materials

Smoking materials are the leading cause of fires in residential buildings. While Ontario law prohibits smoking in public areas, such as stairways, lobbies, elevators, and laundry facilities, most properties allow smoking inside private residences. In addition, property managers can post signs to remind tenants to use heavy no-tip ashtrays and not to smoke when in bed or when consuming alcohol.

2) Electrical Circuits

Fires from electrical circuits are a serious problem for all types of commercial buildings. The wire gauge size limits the amperage an electrical circuit can carry. While a fuse or electrical breaker should protect the wiring from overheating, employees and managers should be careful not to overload a circuit. 

With the constant increase of power-consuming devices in offices, data centers, and plants, it can be tempting to daisy chain power strips to a single electrical outlet. Unfortunately, this is a fire hazard, and you should avoid this by having an electrician install additional electrical receptacles. Managers should periodically conduct an inspection for overloaded circuits and educate their employees on this fire hazard.

3) Combustible Materials

Materials like paper and cardboard are highly combustible and provide fuel for a fire to spread. If stored in a poor location, they can turn a small fire into a devastating one. Managers should develop a routine that encourages employees to dispose of such materials as quickly as possible. 

Remember not to store combustible materials in hallways or near exits. They can impede personnel from safely escaping during a fire.

4) Flammable and Combustible Liquids

The susceptibility to burn makes liquids flammable or combustible, and they’re classified by their flashpoints. While combustible liquids require higher than normal working area temperatures, flammable liquids can easily ignite at average working temperatures.

Both flammable and combustible liquids are common in most workplaces. Carefully store materials, such as waxes, polishes, cleaners, solvents, and thinners, in a locked and ventilated cabinet to prevent them from igniting a dangerous fire.

5) Cooking Equipment

Stoves and fryers used in restaurants are another leading cause of commercial fires. Therefore, staff should always monitor grease near an open flame. 

Heavily used equipment like coffee makers and toasters are also responsible for fires. Restaurant management and staff should make sure they aren’t near combustible material when in use.

6) Heating Equipment

Property managers should consider heat pumps, boilers, heat lamps, and space heaters to be fire hazards and perform regular inspections on them. Management and staff should verify that they’re functioning correctly and keep them away from combustible or flammable materials.

Property and operations managers have a lot of responsibilities, and fire hazard identification often doesn’t get the amount of attention it deserves. However, regular inspection and maintenance of potential fire hazards should be an essential aspect of every business property.

If you don’t feel you have the time or expertise to correctly monitor fire hazards on your property, the experts at Ontario’s All Protect Systems, Inc can help you. In fact, they offer services in every aspect of fire safety, such as fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers and hoses, emergency and exit lighting, fire safety plans, gas detection, and regular inspections. Call them today to schedule your initial consultation.

How’s Your Company’s Fire Protection?

Posted: December 10th, 2021

Are you worried about workplace fires and keen to learn basic fire prevention best practices?

Stick around. You’re in the right place.

But first, let’s start with the bad news.

Workplace fires – though rare – still occur.

Data provided by the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General shows that of the 110, 811 fires reported to the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) between 2010 and 2019:

·         5% of the loss fires occurred within industrial workplaces

·         3% within assembly businesses

·         2% within mercantile industries

·         2% within the business and personal services sectors

Source: Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management

And now the good news.

There are effective ways to decrease fire risks including regular fire inspection, installation of a fire sprinkler system, fire extinguishers, and smoke alarms.

Before we get into how to evaluate your company’s fire risk and offer concrete fire protection solutions let’s consider the workplace fire basics you should know.

What You Should Know About Workplace Fires

In order to be able to put in place basic fire prevention systems in your workplace, it’s imperative to understand fire incident prevalence, fire causes, and the fire codes in place in your province. Here’s what you should know about workplace fires:

Fire Incidents

The Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General reports that in 2019, there were 6,698 structural loss fires and 4, 863 residential loss fires. Loss fires are those involving injury of persons, fatalities, and dollar loss.

These fires led to the deaths of 67 people and 793 civilian fire injuries. The resulting property damage was estimated at $968.9 million.

Source: Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General

More than 13% of these fires occurred within a workplace. While this paints somewhat of a grim picture, it is noteworthy to mention that the 2019 fire estimates were lower on average than in previous years. And there has been a downward trend with fires decreasing over the years.

Source: Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General

Most Common Fire Causes

What are some of the most common fire causes in the workplace? Drawing on data presented by the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General we see that:

·         9% of fires were the result of an electrical issue e.g. poor wiring, faulty equipment

·         8% of fires stemmed from heating and cooling elements

·         8% of fires originated from chemical reactions

·         7% of fires started with a cigarette

·         5% of fires had as source an appliance

·         3% of workplace fires had as ignition source an open flame e.g. matches/lighter

It is disconcerting to note that nearly one in ten fires (9% of structure loss fires) across Ontario is intentional i.e. arson. 

Fire Codes

In Canada, building construction and renovation must be compliant with established national norms as stipulated in the National Building Code of Canada (NBC). To complement this building code, a National Fire Code of Canada (NFC) exists.

The NFC lays out detailed instructions to ensure buildings are constructed in a manner that ensures hazards are mitigated particularly when putting up multi-story buildings using combustible materials.

Each province has its own Fire Code. Here is the Ontario Fire Code.

So, now that you’re aware of the fire dangers in the workplace, how do you protect your business?

We’re glad you asked.

Here is our step-by-step basic fire prevention guide.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Reliable Fire Safety Plan

Here are five steps you can follow to create your own company fire safety plan

Step 1: Identify Fire Hazards

You can hire specialist teams to go through your building checking for any and all potential fire hazards.

This fire inspection is critical in helping to eliminate prospective ignition sources such as frayed cables, wires running under carpets, and faulty appliances.

In addition, you may also want to consider putting up no-smoking signs and designating outdoor areas for employee smoking.

Step 2: Map Out Escape Routes

Your fire plan should detail the escape routes you have chosen. These routes ideally should be as direct as possible and the fastest/shortest way out of the building.

There should be enough exits and corresponding routes to accommodate the number of people working on the property.

Be mindful of emergency doors. They should be easy to open with no obstructions along passageways. 

Step 3: Install Emergency Lighting

In the event of a fire, it’s not uncommon for a building to lose power. Power outages will leave employees in the dark and unable to orient themselves.

This is where emergency lighting comes into play. On top of using bioluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) safety signs, emergency lighting systems will help guide employees safely towards exit routes.

Step 4: Designate Team Leaders

Every department within a business should have a key person who is responsible for taking charge should a fire occur.

This person should be a level-headed individual, able to keep calm under pressure and supervise accounting for employees at the appointed safe meeting point.

This person also has the task of enforcing fire safety regulations around the office on a regular basis. 

Step 5: Conduct Routine Fire Drills

Once you have perfected the details of your fire plan and put everything in writing, it’s time to communicate the plan with your employees.

A fire safety conference can be scheduled where the company fire plan is explained in depth. 

From here, sporadic fire drills may be carried out to train employees and make sure everyone knows what to do if a fire were ever to break out. 

Get Equipped Today

Don’t wait until something happens to take action.

By being proactive, you position yourself strategically and give your employees and business the best chance of survival and recovery post-fire incidents.

Make sure your company is adequately prepared and has sufficient fire protection systems in place such as emergency backup generators, fire sprinkler systems, and fire alarms.

For all your fire inspections and fire prevention solutions in Waterloo, Ontario think All Protect Systems

We offer a comprehensive line of fire alarm systems, fire warning solutions, emergency backup generators, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans and sprinkler systems.

Request a free quote today.