Do small businesses require fire training and fire suppression systems like fire extinguishers?
Yes, they absolutely need both.
Fire training and fire prevention systems are critical considering the number of people working in small businesses across the country today.
According to the Key Small Business Statistics 2021 report, published by the Department of Industry, there are approximately 1.2 million small businesses in Canada as of December 2020.
For easy reference, a small business is one defined as having 1 to 99 paid employees.
More than half of Canada’s small businesses are located in Quebec and Ontario (250,724 and 439,694 respectively). Over in British Columbia, there are 187,697 small businesses while Nova Scotia has 29, 561.
Collectively, small businesses employed more than 7.7 million people across the country totalling 67.7% of the private labor force. With these figures in mind, it doesn’t take a lot to see the necessity and importance of fire training and fire prevention plans.
In this post, we’re going to focus our attention on the need for fire suppression and controlling equipment, particularly fire extinguishers.
“…a storage container for an agent like water or chemicals designed to put out a small fire, not a large one. Extinguishers come labelled ABC or D.”
From this answer we can deduce certain things:
1. Fire extinguishers contain different fire suppression agents
2. Fire extinguishers are specifically for repressing small fires
3. Fire extinguishers are labelled to show which type of fire they quell
Now, here are some fire extinguisher tips for your small business. Let’s start with how to choose the correct fire extinguisher.
Are Fire Extinguishers All The Same?
We have already established that fire extinguishers are not all the same. There are different types of fire extinguishers based on their contents and the fire they are created to subdue.
When it comes to fire extinguisher tips, a good piece of advice is to purchase fire extinguishers based on what potential fire hazards are on-site and the type of fires you may need to put out.
To put out paper, wood, upholstery-related fires, you would need a Class A type fire extinguisher.
For fires caused by flammable and combustible liquids such as gasoline, fuel oil, paint, solvents, or grease, a Class B type fire extinguisher is appropriate.
Where fires are caused by electrical equipment, faulty wiring, overheating of fuse boxes or conductors, then you would need a Class C type fire extinguisher.
If your business stores, handles or manufactures metals, then you should have a Class D type fire extinguisher on hand.
Alternatively, you can always settle for a multi-purpose fire extinguisher labelled ABC. It contains dry chemicals that can put out a range of fires.
Now, here’s why you should invest in fire extinguishers for your small business.
5 Reasons Your Small Business Needs a Fire Extinguisher
Fire risk is real. The Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General tells us that between 2010 and 2019, there were approximately 13,297 work-place related fires. Here are five reasons fire extinguishers should be a part of your small business fire prevention plan.
Reason #1 To Be Compliant with Local Fire Codes
The very first reason, small businesses should have fire extinguishers is so they comply with the standards issued by the Ontario Fire Code and the Ontario Fire Department regarding Fire Protection, Life Safety Systems and Appliances.
A small fire which could have been easily stopped by an employee trained to correctly use a fire extinguisher can grow very quickly and burn the entire place down.
The cost and losses aren’t limited solely to the property consumed by the fire but includes your reputation and brand image. These can both take a serious hit after such an incident. And that’s why 4 out of 10 businesses close shop forever.
Reason #4 Fire Extinguishers Mitigate Potential Injury Cases
Having a fire extinguisher on-hand to put out a fire, can buy your employees the necessary time needed to exit the building and get to safety.
If a fire is small enough, a fire extinguisher can be used to contain the fire while staff members are ushered out of the building to safety.
Reduce the potential injuries that employees sustain by investing in quality fire suppression and control systems.
Reason #5 Fire Extinguishers Reassure Staff That Their Place of Work is Safe
Employees want to know that their place of occupation is fully equipped with the necessary resources to keep them safe.
Having fire extinguishers and well-trained employees that can use them is not only in the best interests of the business but all who work on-site.
The Bottom Line
Every small business regardless of the type of work they do needs a fire extinguisher. If you’re not sure which fire extinguisher is suitable for your business or how many you should have per floor, you can contact your local fire experts.
For businesses in Waterloo, Ontario keen to discuss a fire prevention plan or fire suppression systems with a specialist don’t hesitate to reach out to All Protect Systems.
We offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.
Fires in commercial buildings without a well-thought-out fire escape plan can lead to a dangerous panic. If your professional responsibilities include your building’s fire safety plan, you can avoid this awful scenario by establishing solid fire escape plan directives.
Fire safety is an important part of every building, and with some careful consideration, you can ensure your workers and customers can evacuate your premises calmly and safely if any emergency occurs. By incorporating the following four directives into your fire escape plan, your building can become a model of fire safety.
1) Assign responsibilities
Choose members of your staff to act as fire wardens during an emergency and train them to guide the rest of the workforce and visitors safely out of the building during an emergency. According to 220.127.116.11. (1) of the Ontario Fire Code, your enterprise must include the following in your fire safety plan: Section (b) requires “the appointment and organization of designated supervisory staff to carry out fire safety duties, while section (c) states “the training of supervisory staff and instruction of other occupants in their responsibilities for fire safety.”
Your fire warden’s responsibilities include leadership during a fire, as well as planning and preparation beforehand. He must also:
Verify that doors have been closed
Check bathrooms for stragglers
Perform a headcount at the pre-assigned safe location
Make sure your staff knows who their fire warden is, so they can look to them for guidance during a fire or other emergency. Knowing there is someone in charge keeps people calm and relaxed during episodes of extreme stress.
2) Identify possible scenarios
Depending on the nature and use of your building, it may be more susceptible to certain kinds of fires in different locations. The most common causes of fires are kitchens, intentional arson, and electrical malfunctions. Take the time to examine your property and consider the various possibilities for a fire to break out and try to create safety policies that will prevent them.
Once you’ve done your best to reduce the chance of a fire starting, you need to develop a fire escape plan around the remote possibility of where fires are most likely to occur. When it comes to fire safety, prevention is always the best cure.
3) Choose the best escape routes
Once you’ve identified the most likely causes of a fire, choose the best hallways and fire exits for the building inhabitants to make safe egress. Primary and secondary routes and exits are necessary during an emergency, and make sure these pathways are clear of any furniture or other obstructions that can impede the efficient flow of people during an emergency.
Post clear signs for exits and maps that instruct people how to get out. During an emergency, people can become disoriented, and you may have visitors in your facility that are unfamiliar with the terrain. Also, choose a safe location where everyone should congregate after exiting the building, so the fire warden can take a head count.
Schedule periodic fire drills, so both your supervisors and regular staff can learn the best exit routes. The best way to learn something is always through practice, and with regular drills, your building staff can react to an emergency with calm efficiency.
The above list is a guide and isn’t meant to be exhaustive. Every building has different fire hazards and should have its own customized fire escape plan.
Are carbon monoxide detectors important and should you have them installed?
Yes because carbon monoxide poisoning is the biggest cause of accidental poison-related fatalities in all of North America. And, according to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, more than 50 people die annually from CO poisoning with an average of 11 people in Ontario.
Furthermore, Statistics Canada puts the figure of those who have died collectively from CO poisoning between 2000 and 2013 at 4,990. It’s clear to see that CO is harmful. But why exactly is this?
CO is especially noxious because it presents itself as a colourless and odourless gas which makes it extremely difficult to detect without a special detector.
So, whether in a house or an office building, carbon monoxide detectors are important because they can save lives.
In this post, we’re going to dive deeper and look at:
What is carbon monoxide poisoning?
Where does carbon monoxide originate in a building?
Best practices to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning
5 reasons to install carbon monoxide detectors
Let’s get to it.
What is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when unsuspecting individuals breathe in carbon monoxide for an extended period of time.
CO is harmful when inhaled because it has the ability to displace oxygen from the blood which can cause a person to fall into a coma. Deprivation of oxygen to the brain, heart and important organs can lead to loss of consciousness and suffocation within minutes.
Typical symptoms of CO poisoning include:
Constriction across the chest
Everyone is potentially at risk but young children and the elderly are most susceptible. So are those suffering from heart and or lung diseases, smokers, and people/working at high altitudes.
Fortunately, if caught on time CO poisoning can be reversed, albeit with damage to vital organs like the brain and heart.
Where Does Carbon Monoxide Originate in a Building?
Wherever there is incomplete combustion of materials consisting of carbon such as oil, kerosene, natural gas, gasoline, coal, or wood, there is an elevated risk of CO production.
The most common sources of carbon monoxide include:
Cars (vehicle exhaust)
Cooking and household appliances (think charcoal grills, barbecue, gas dryer, gas stove)
Fireplaces or wood stoves (and blocked chimney flues)
Gas-powered equipment (such as lawnmowers and snow blowers)
Gas powered generators
Heating appliances (like furnaces and gas water heaters)
The likelihood of CO poisoning is increased if any of the appliances mentioned above are used in poorly ventilated or unventilated areas.
People working in and around coke ovens, blast furnaces, forges, boiler rooms, paper and petroleum refineries, dock workers, and warehouses are most at risk as CO is one of the most common industrial hazards in such occupations.
Best Practices to Protect Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
To lower the likelihood of CO poisoning in the home or workplace, homeowners and employees can adopt the following best practices:
Install effective ventilation systems that eliminate CO from living spaces and work areas.
Routinely carry out maintenance on appliances and equipment that produces CO such as water heaters and cooking ranges.
Opt to use electricity-powered equipment as opposed to gasoline-based appliances.
Prohibit the use of gas-powered tools or engines in areas with little to no ventilation.
Routinely test air quality to ensure there is no CO present.
Educate family members, tenants, or employees on the production sources of CO, effects of CO poisoning, symptoms and what to do in the event of an emergency.
5 Reasons to Install Carbon Dioxide Detectors
With this background, we can now move on to the benefits of installing carbon monoxide detectors.
Benefit #1 CO Detectors Act as Early Warning Signs
Carbon monoxide detectors have an inbuilt alarm system which is set off when CO levels cross a certain threshold. Thus, they act as the earliest warning signs of rising CO levels in a space. The alarm provides sufficient time for building occupants to either quickly ventilate the room or escape.
Benefit #2 Alerts You About Faulty Appliances
Appliances such as gas water heaters, wood stoves, gas stoves, lawnmowers, and fuel-fired furnaces are all prime generators of carbon monoxide. A carbon monoxide detector can alert building occupants about the state of the appliance, for an appliance that’s faulty will generate more CO thereby triggering the CO detector.
Benefit #3 CO Detectors Safeguard Society’s Most Vulnerable
CO detectors are especially efficacious in nursing homes, hospitals, nursery schools or places where young and or vulnerable individuals reside or work. The alarms and subsequent automatic contact sent to first responders means this subgroup can be helped on time before CO poisoning reaches a fatal point.
Benefit #4 CO Detectors are Stable in all Weather
High-end carbon monoxide detectors such as those installed by Nutech Fire Prevention technicians are not affected by temperature fluctuations and changes in humidity. As such, there are no false alarms as the systems will only be activated when they detect carbon monoxide in the atmosphere and not other gases.
Benefit #5 CO Detectors can Contact First Responders
Owing to the sophisticated nature of modern CO detectors, even if you’re not present at home, you’ll be automatically alerted if the CO detector has been triggered. A message will show up on your phone if the security device is also not activated. These contemporary CO detectors also have the capability to alert first responders.
Investing in Carbon Monoxide Detectors
It’s important that all the CO detectors you’re purchasing are certified for use in Canada. If you’re working with a qualified technician this won’t be an issue as they know this. But if you decide to purchase on your own, make sure the products and their packaging bear any one of the following certification marks:
Stay Safe and Hire Qualified Technicians to Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors Today
Here at Nutech Fire Prevention, it is our duty and mission to help keep the residents of Ontario safe through the provision, installation, and maintenance of the leading safety technologies on the market.
We provide a comprehensive range of systems including a line of carbon monoxide detectors, emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, exit lighting, emergency lighting, fire safety plans, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services for businesses in Hamilton, Ontario.
Businesses are mandated to make employee safety a priority. As such, they are recommended to have well-maintained fire extinguishers, fully serviced smoke detectors and fire alarms installed, as well as a fire prevention plan on hand.
Where fire extinguishers are concerned, where you store them is extremely important. Easy access to fire extinguishers can help stop fires before they turn into bigger blazes.
That’s why in this post, we’re going to address the following issues:
· Where should fire extinguishers be stored?
· How should fire extinguishers be stored?
· Fire extinguisher storage best tips
Best Places to Store Your Commercial Fire Extinguisher
So, where should you store your commercial fire extinguishers?
Canada’s National Fire Code 2015, which approves of the recommendations made by the National Fire Protection Association, affirms that:
When stored mounted to a wall, fire extinguishers should be at least 10 cm (4 inches) from the floor (but no more than 1.52m/5feet above the ground)
Secondly, they are to be stored in a place where they are easily accessible and visible to all.
The general recommendation for the number of fire extinguishers to a floor/office is one per floor.
And this extinguisher is to be kept as close as possible to the potential fire hazards identified in the company’s fire prevention plan.
Summarized we would say that the chosen storage spot should be visible, easy to reach within 6 seconds of a fire breaking out, and easy to remember.
With that said, here are locations around the office that make good places to mount a fire extinguisher:
1.Near the Kitchen
If you have a kitchen within your office space, having a fire extinguisher nearby is a good idea seeing as most fires begin in the kitchen.
Another tip is to also keep some flour or baking soda near your stoves, microwaves, toasters, and ovens in case your fire extinguisher fails to work.
2.Near the Laundry Room
Are you a Laundromat or have some heat-generating machinery on your premise? For Laundromats, dryers are notorious for catching fire and hence the need to store a fire extinguisher close by.
But even in offices where machines, equipment, and devices are constantly plugged in and there is a risk of overheating, always keep a fire extinguisher within reach.
3.Near your Workshop/Garage
Do you have an underground garage at work? Or perhaps a workshop? These areas contain flammable substances and so keeping a commercial fire extinguisher within proximity of these places is recommended.
Concerning garages, if it is not temperature controlled, you may want to mount the fire extinguisher on an internal wall leading into the garage where the temperatures aren’t extreme.
4.Next to Heating Sources
Most office spaces have portable heaters and HVACs. Elements that radiate heat are by default potential fire hazards.
With that said, a fire extinguisher should be mounted within the vicinity of any of these heat-generating elements.
Places to NOT Store Your Commercial Fire Extinguisher
Fire extinguishers are not to be stored in obscure places, corners, inaccessible storage rooms, or locked cupboards/glass casings.
There must be nothing blocking access to fire extinguishers.
Don’t ever store your fire extinguisher so close to the fire hazard that if a fire breaks out you can’t reach the extinguisher. The ideal distance to mount your fire extinguisher from the potential hazard is approximately 10m (30 feet) away.
Don’t store all your fire extinguishers on one floor and have to run up and down floors in an emergency to get your hands on one. Each floor must have its own fire extinguisher(s).
And lastly, the fire warden appointed in the office during fire training is to know where the fire extinguisher on the floor is and make sure that it is visible.
Fire Extinguisher Storage Tips
Now that we’re familiar with where to store our fire extinguishers, let’s turn our attention to the correct storage technique. Here are answers to some of the questions you might have.
1.Can fire extinguishers be stored on their side?
Fire extinguishers can be pressurized or non-pressurized.
For non-pressurized fire extinguishers, storing them upright is ideal.
For some contemporary pressurized fire extinguishers, they have been designed in such a way that they can be stored on their side without issue.
This isn’t a general rule, however. The best answer is what’s recommended in the owner’s manual.
2.How long can we keep our fire extinguisher?
Many companies mount fire extinguishers and seem to wash their hands off any further responsibility for maintenance.
The only problem is that fire extinguishers aren’t everlasting. They can actually expire. Therefore, it’s not just storing them correctly that’s important but making sure that they are still in working order.
3.Are there any temperature requirements I need to note?
Yes, fire extinguishers should not be stored in rooms or environments with extreme or adverse temperatures.
Commercial fire extinguishers must only be stored in rooms or ventilated areas between -40 and 48.9°C (-40 and 120°F).
Storing fire extinguishers in temperatures that are less-than-ambient for a prolonged period may render them ineffective.
The fire extinguisher tips provided in this post provide a basic guideline for how and where to store your commercial fire extinguishers. However, it’s worth noting that placement might differ depending on the nature of your business operations.
If you’d like help to know the best places to mount your fire extinguisher, our fire experts at All Protect are always happy to help.
Additionally, we also design custom fire safety plans, conduct on-site routine testing, fire training, gas detection, inspections, and maintenance of fire protection systems such as sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, emergency lighting, emergency backup generators, and exit lighting.