Posts Tagged ‘fire safety’

Do Your Employees Know Your Fire Safety?

Posted: June 15th, 2020

Required by Ontario law under Section 2.8 of Division B and other areas of the Ontario Fire Code for specific types of buildings, Fire Safety Plans must adhere to strict guidelines. They must be carefully prepared and receive approval by the Authority Having Jurisdiction, usually the local fire marshall. However, regardless of how good your Fire Safety Plan is, it won’t be effectively executed if your employees are unaware of it.

Fire Safety Plans involve procedures, documentation, and especially training. While the supervisory staff usually receive rigorous and detailed instruction, it’s common for most of a building’s workers to be unaware of the plan’s details. Running the day to day operations of any enterprise can be so overwhelming that management often neglects to inform its workforce on emergency preparedness. If you wish to delegate the preparation and implementation of your Fire Safety Plan to professionals, the highly trained staff at All Protect Systems, Inc can handle this responsibility for you.

Buildings Requiring Fire Safety Plans

The Ontario Fire Code requires many but not all buildings to prepare and implement a Fire Safety Plan. High rise buildings, residential, assembly occupancies, care homes for children or the elderly, and those that house hazardous materials are just some of the building types that require such plans. 

While Fire Safety Plans for all buildings must include specialized training for all supervisory staff, Section 2.8 only requires the instruction for employees of hotel establishments. For instance, hotel employees must receive training on all aspects of Article 2.8.2.1. Such activities include but are not limited to:

  • Activating the fire alarm and notifying the fire department
  • Instructing and evacuating the building occupants
  • Using the elevators in the event of a fire
  • Controlling and extinguishing a fire

While the Ontario Fire Code only requires this training for hotel workers, it doesn’t mean other businesses can’t benefit from employee fire safety training. Like all work related to continuing education, fire safety training pays dividends in the long run. Employee familiarity with fire safety can save both lives and company property. Unfortunately, most employees’ knowledge of Fire Safety Plans is limited to an annual fire drill.

Fire Safety Plan Design

The contents of a Fire Safety Plan must include all relevant information regarding the prevention and control of a fire. The plan must consist of information, such as:

  • Documentation of fire protection equipment including drawings indicating their location
  • Contact information for supervisors
  • Emergency fire procedures
  • Fire drills
  • Building maintenance for fire prevention
  • Spill procedures (if applicable)

Most employees are usually only familiar with the evacuation procedures during a fire drill. Management should regard evacuation procedures as the absolute minimum for employee fire safety training. Educating employees on the rest of the plan can improve safety and even help protect company property.

In 2018, there were 7,000 dangerous structural fires in Ontario. These fires cost more than $730 million in damages and resulted in 722 injuries with 81 fatalities. Could employees well-versed in the details of a company’s Fire Safety Plan help reduce these numbers? Simple logic dictates that it would.

It can often become part of a company’s culture to keep its employees on a “need to know” basis of much of the day to day operations. After all, a little bit of information can be a dangerous thing. Unfortunately, the secrecy of company policy can reach into unintended areas. 

Employees who are well-trained in your company’s fire safety can not only help control fires; they may even help prevent them. Once conscious of fire safety, employees can spot potential hazards before they materialize. If you’re looking for professionals to design and implement your building’s Fire Safety Plan, All Protect Systems, Inc has a dedicated team of experts that can put together a plan that your employees can learn and help implement. Call them today to find out what they can do for you.

How Often Should You Hold Fire Drills

Posted: May 15th, 2020

Fire drills are disruptive to building activities, they’re also a necessary life safety practice for your premises. Building fires can spread rapidly, and being well-versed in evacuating a building stands a much better chance of safely escaping a fire.

Fire drills should not only involve evacuating personnel from the building; instead, they should be part of an overall fire safety plan that includes documenting fire protection equipment and procedures as well as controlling fire hazards throughout the building. All Protect Systems, Inc. can help your residential or commercial building develop a customized fire safety plan. Call them today and find out what they can do for you.

Perform Fire Drills a Minimum of Once Each Year

It might seem like a lot if you’re not in the habit of holding fire drills, but without regular practice, a fire evacuation can be a chaotic event. Besides enhancing occupant safety, the exercises also encourage management to think of themselves as part of a team and to be conscious of fire as a real and present danger. There’s no better detection for potential fire hazards than the alert eyes of the people who occupy the building every day.

Have a Plan for the Drill 

Fire drills need to be planned and organized. Ensure that occupants are aware of the various fire exits throughout the facility. Most people use the same entry doors every day, so they tend to rely on habit in an emergency. A plan allows them to access the best egress in their location. 

Ontario 213/07 is the fire code created under the Fire and Prevention Act of 1997. It details the legal requirements to which all types of premises must adhere.

Subsection 2.8.2 stipulates the requirements for a Fire Safety Plan. Part of this plan demands that the occupant appoint and train a supervisory staff responsible for performing safety duties and instructing other occupants about their responsibilities during a fire emergency. Other requirements during a fire include:

  • Audible fire alarm activation
  • Fire department notification
  • Occupant instruction during the fire alarm
  • Evacuation of occupants including those with special needs
  • Usage of elevators
  • Fire control

Depending on the building structure and type of activity, your company may need to develop a fire safety plan and have it approved by the authority having jurisdiction. Keep this plan stored in an approved location and review it whenever necessary. You still must review it at least once per year to consider any building changes that have taken place.

Make Emergency Procedures Visible

All buildings are required to post emergency fire procedures on each floor, and hotels have additional requirements. If your building’s fire alarm is not monitored, you must post a legible sign next to each manual fire alarm pull station with instructions to contact the fire department. The sign must include the local emergency telephone number or the number of the local fire department. 

Fire drills should be part of a larger fire safety plan required by Ontario law. Capable administrators must either develop these plans themselves or delegate this responsibility to trained professionals. The team at All Protect Systems, Inc. are experts at developing fire safety plans. By staying abreast of any changes in technology or code requirements, they can help keep your building and personnel safe. They’re a full-service fire protection provider in the Ontario area, serving Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Elmira, New Hamburg, Wellesley, Listowel, Stratford, Woodstock, and surrounding areas. Call them today for an evaluation of your current fire safety plan.

How Long Do Fire Extinguishers Last

Posted: April 15th, 2020

According to the second law of thermodynamics, it’s natural for everything to break down and deteriorate all by itself. Fire extinguishers are no exception to this rule. It might still look the same as the day you bought it, looks can be deceiving, and degradation is happening continuously. While the lifespan of your fire extinguisher depends on various factors, you can generally expect them to last between 5-15 years. 

5-15 years may seem like a wide discrepancy, but several factors contribute to the expected lifespan of your fire extinguisher. Regular inspections and maintenance by a qualified fire extinguisher technician can take the guesswork out of your vital life safety devices. Conveniently located in Waterloo, Ontario, All Protect Systems Inc serves much of the surrounding area. Call them today to find out how they can help keep your home or business safe.

Expiration Date

A time-honored tradition for any product with a life expectancy is always to check the expiration date. Look for a paper tag attached to the handle of the extinguisher. Even if the tag doesn’t explicitly state a date of expiration, it should have some date on it. If that day was more than ten years ago, it’s probably time to replace your unit. If no tag is apparent, there might be a date code imprinted on the equipment. If the numbers don’t make sense, don’t be afraid to look up the model number on the internet and see what information is available.

Pressure Gauge

While not all fire extinguishers have gauges, most do. Look for the indicator on top of the handle. It will show you the amount of pressure left in the tank. They usually have a red (empty) and green (full) section, so as long as the pointer is in the green area, your equipment should have enough material to function correctly.

Extinguisher Damage

Hopefully, you keep your fire extinguisher in a safe environment. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Fires can happen anywhere, and you need to keep extinguishers near the most likely places. Such locations are often subject to physical damage or environmental corrosion of your unit. 

Harmful chemicals, extreme temperatures, or other factors can cause the rubber hose or nozzle on your equipment to deteriorate and crack over time. This process occurs slowly, and you probably won’t notice it. Periodic inspections by a trained professional are invaluable in these circumstances.

Your fire extinguisher can also get knocked off its bracket by an inadvertent collision with an enthusiastic employee. Even if you try to mount your extinguishers away from high traffic areas, such accidents are common. Damage to a fire extinguisher may not be evident to the untrained eye. Locking pins go missing. Handles become wobbly or loose, and debris can clog the nozzle. It’s a good idea to assign a specific employee the responsibility of monthly or quarterly inspections of all your life safety equipment.

Different Types of Fire Extinguishers

Some types of fire extinguishers last longer than others. You shouldn’t expect pressurized water, carbon dioxide, and wet chemical extinguishers to last longer than three years. Dry chemical extinguishers, on the other hand, should last at least 12 years. The type of extinguishing agent in your equipment should be visible on your tank. 

Fire Extinguishers are the type of thing we tend to ignore until our lives depend on them. Unfortunately, we need to pay attention to them before they become critical for survival. Keep complete records of your maintenance and expiration dates of all your fire extinguishing equipment, and service them when necessary. If you would prefer to delegate this responsibility to a trained professional, call the experts at All Protect Systems Inc. They offer complete solutions to all your property and life safety protection systems.

Image: Flickr

Training Employees On Using Fire Extinguishers Safely

Posted: March 2nd, 2020
image

Fire extinguishers are a vital part of any safe workplace, but not everyone knows how to use them. Proper knowledge and training of how to operate a fire extinguisher could save critical minutes in an emergency, and make the difference in getting employees to safety. Ensure that everyone in your workplace is properly trained on how to use a fire extinguisher, by following a few simple guidelines.

There are two key components to training employees on how to use fire extinguishers – making sure that training is done correctly and consistently. Correct training means having a skilled instructor who understands the technical equipment and fire code regulations and can answer any questions your staff may have. Consistent training involves having regular meetings and updates to refresh workers’ knowledge of the equipment.

We recommend bringing in a fire safety professional to provide fire extinguisher training. The correct use of a fire extinguisher should include knowledge of the P.A.S.S. system, which is an acronym for “Pass, Aim, Squeeze, Swap.” Make sure that you and your staff are comfortable with these four steps:

  1. Pull the pin on the fire extinguisher.
  2. Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
  3. Squeeze the trigger in a controlled manner.
  4. Sweep the nozzle of the fire extinguisher from side to side to cover the entire area.

We strongly suggest employees commit the P.A.S.S. system to memory, and that you or a department supervisor test your employees on a regular basis. However, operating instructions for fire extinguishers should also be clearly visible for anyone who may be a position to use the fire extinguishers in your workplace. Section 6.1.2.3 (1) of the Ontario Fire Code requires that portable fire extinguishers be mounted so they are visible and accessible at all times, while Section 6.2.4.4 states that operating instructions for extinguishers should face outward for visibility when extinguishers are located in cabinets, shelves or wall recesses.

But there is more to fire extinguisher safety than just knowing how to operate the extinguisher. Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) recommends that proper fire extinguisher training should include learning the locations of extinguishers, the types of fire most likely to occur in the workplace and the proper extinguishers to use in each instance, markings on fire extinguishers, the importance of sounding fire alarms, health and safety hazards, protective equipment and more.

WSPS provides resources on fire extinguisher safety, including consulting services and online courses. The team at All Protect Systems Inc. can also provide information about resources and training for employee fire safety.

Consistency is important when it comes to training both new and old employees. Training should be scheduled regularly in the workplace, at a minimum of once a year. Retraining can be scheduled as often as needed. Look at each training session as an opportunity to build confidence in your staff’s emergency skills. Fire safety training should also be included in the training and orientation of all new employees.

Remember that different people learn in different ways, so be prepared to provide more than one method of training. Hands-on training is always effective, allowing employees to handle and operate the fire extinguishers themselves. However, it’s also helpful to provide written instructions, links to videos, and the opportunity to talk one-one-one with a fire safety expert, so staff can absorb knowledge in the way that works for them.

A workplace emergency, like a fire, can be a stressful and chaotic time for both employees and supervisors. Proper training about fire procedures and equipment can help everyone to handle the crisis safely and smoothly. Contact the team at All Protect Systems Inc. if you have any questions about fire extinguisher training, equipment or workplace safety. We’ll be happy to work with you to make your workplace a safer place for your employees.

Image: Pixabay

Everything You Need to Know About Choosing Fire Extinguishers

Posted: November 3rd, 2019

There are several different fire extinguishers, as there are different types of fire. The extinguisher must use a product that is suited to the material that is being burned, such as metal, paper, plastic or wood.

It is important to establish the classification of the fire very quickly so as to be able to work out what needs to be done to fight it.

Types of fire

Fires fall into five different types named A, B, C, D and K, depending on the substance or material that is the site of the fire.

Class A fires involve standard combustible material such as cloth, paper, plastics, rubber or wood. This creates embers that result in the production of either a quick combustion including flames or a slow combustion that is actually flameless.

Class B fires involve gases, lacquers, liquids, oil or paints that are combustible or flammable and burn without producing any smouldering or flames.

Class C fires involve live electrical devices such as appliances, power tools or motors.

Class D fires involve metals that are combustible such as the likes of magnesium, potassium, sodium and titanium. These fires can be especially hazardous as they may explode upon exposure to water.

Class K fires involve fats within cooking appliances or cooking oils that are combustible, and are actually the most common form of fire.

The difference between the fires makes it all the more important to ensure you choose the correct fire extinguisher if you intend to try to fight it.

The importance of choosing the correct fire extinguisher

Businesses can choose a variety of different fire extinguishers, including ones that are low hazard, high hazard or medium hazard. Low hazard fire extinguishers are usually suitable for areas such as the guest areas in hotels and traditional offices.

High hazard fire extinguishers can be helpful in manufacturing environments or other any form of business that may make use of flammable liquids. Medium hazard fire extinguishers are best suited for the likes of storage areas, car showrooms and light manufacturing environments.

Portable fire extinguisher types

Portable fire extinguishers have different capabilities, limitations and individual characteristics. The three main varieties of portable fire extinguisher are water extinguishers, CO2 extinguishers and dry chemical extinguishers.

Fire extinguishers that use water are composed of two-thirds water which is then pressurized with the use of air. These extinguishers are ideal for use with Class A fires as they able to remove the heat from the materials that are on fire. Water should never be used in electrical fires as water conducts electricity and will increase the danger of electrocution.

C02 (carbon dioxide) fire extinguishers uses, as the name suggests, pressurised CO2 to put out fires. CO2 fire extinguishers can be used on Class B and Class C fires. The CO2 actually blankets the fire, displacing the oxygen and thus stopping the reaction on the surface. CO2 fire extinguishers only have an average range and last between ten to thirty seconds at the most, making it important to be thorough.

C02 fire extinguishers are not advised for use in confined areas as it can displace the oxygen within the air as well as the fire, making it hard to breathe.

Dry chemical extinguishers are commonly available and are marked for the fire class they are intended to put out (which can include Class A, B and C). Fine powder is discharged in a blanket to break up the oxygen and the fuel and stop the chemical reaction. These extinguishers also have an average range and accurate use is essential.

Fire extinguishers should only be used after everyone on the premises has been alerted of the emergency and are leaving the building, the fire department has been called and safe exit from the building has been assured.

Image: Flickr

How To Limit False Fire Alarms

Posted: August 1st, 2019

False fire alarms are not only annoying, but they waste the time and resources for your local fire department.

The good news is there are ways to help limit these false alarms. While some false alarms may still happen, they’ll occur much less frequently.

Taking the time to do this can prevent costly fines and ensure when the alarm does sound, occupants take it seriously instead of thinking it’s just a false alarm.

Why Does It Matter

If you think it’s not that much of a problem, consider what happens if a legitimate fire alarm happens while your local firefighters are responding to your false one. Every time they respond to false fire alarms, they’re wasting valuable time and resources that could go to real emergencies.

In Ottawa alone, there were over 7,000 false fire alarms in 2017. Just over 4,000 were caused by equipment malfunction or accident, while the remainder was due to human error, such as purposely or accidentally pulling the alarm.

Plus, false alarms cost your business or organization. For instance, Toronto charges $350 per dispatched fire vehicle for false alarms due to negligence or malicious intent.

Move Fire Alarms

The Ontario Fire Code does allow you to move fire alarm boxes if they are being pulled or set off accidentally. For manual pull stations, section 6.3.1.7 states the station may be moved if there is a high incidence of false alarms.

You must make certain there are still safety precautions in place in the event of a fire.

If an alarm is being set off due to someone leaning against it or bumping it going back and forth, moving it to a better location can drastically reduce false fire alarms.

Uncover The Cause

Use security cameras to determine what is causing the false alarms. For instance, children may think it’s amusing to pull the alarm to avoid going to school. When you know what’s happening and even who is doing it, it’s much easier to develop a plan to prevent it.

Implement Fines

If fire alarms are being pulled maliciously, even if someone just thinks it’s a joke, implement fines to prevent false fire alarms. Ensure everyone in the building knows about this policy.

Post this with your fire safety plan too so visitors are aware of it. Using security cameras helps you to identify the culprit(s) so you know who to fine.

Most people don’t want to have to pay a fine. You can even charge them the fines from the fire department along with your building’s fine.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Poorly maintained, outdated and incorrectly installed fire alarms can all sound false alarms. It’s vital to schedule regular maintenance to check your systems before they become an issue.

If you’re dealing with regular false fire alarms, call in the alarm company to investigate. Equipment does malfunction, but it can be repaired. Everything from issues with the alarm itself to faulty wiring can all cause issues.

If you’ve recently gone through renovations and are experiencing an increase in false alarms, have your system and wiring checked to ensure there aren’t any issues as a result of the renovations.

Establish A Fire Warden

Ask for volunteers or designate one or more people per floor as a fire warden to help monitor the fire alarms. It is there responsibility to keep a check on the alarms and to watch for anyone who may be attempting to pull the alarm.

They can also identify if someone did it maliciously or accidentally. If it’s an accident often, this is a good indicator the alarm should be moved. Ideally, you’ll want someone who is already near the alarm, such as someone with an office or room across from or beside the alarm.

Keep Sensors Away From Triggers

False fire alarms can go off if sensors are not installed in the right place. Smoke detectors should always be installed away from vents and heat/smoke sources, such as not having one installed directly above an oven.

If someone is moving the smoke detectors around, use security cameras or your designated fire warden to determine who is doing this. Fine them to prevent this from happening again.

Help limit false fire alarms with regular inspections and maintenance. See how All Protect Systems can help with annual and monthly inspections.

Image: Renee Gaudet

5 Tips For Better Fire Extinguisher Placement

Posted: July 1st, 2019

Simply having fire extinguishers is a great first step to keeping everyone safer in the event of a fire.

However, if they’re not easily accessible, they may not be useful at all. This is why fire extinguisher placement is so important.

Knowing exactly where to place your fire extinguishers could mean the difference between stopping a fire and having to evacuate as the building goes up in flames.

1. Must Be Visible At All Times

The single most important thing to remember is to keep your fire extinguishers visible at all times. The Ontario Fire Code states that any portable extinguishers be mounted so they’re visible at all times. This ensures they’re easier to find in the event of a fire.

In buildings where visibility is obstructed, such as in a warehouse, you must have signs in place that show where fire extinguishers are placed. They should still be visible and not stored in a closet or cabinet. There are a few exceptions to the cabinet rule, but the doors should be clear to still make the fire extinguisher visible.

2. Mounting

There are two main requirements for mounting/storing. For optimal fire extinguisher placement, you must use brackets to mount the fire extinguisher on a wall within easy reach.

When mounting, keep the carrying handle between one and one and half metres above the floor. This allows individuals of all heights to reach and lift the fire extinguisher. For larger extinguishers that are heavier, it’s recommended to place them lower as they’re more difficult to lift.

Alternately, you can place fire extinguishers in cabinets with glass doors. This is often the case in areas where you don’t want individuals messing with the extinguisher. Cabinets shouldn’t be locked unless it’s in an area where this is a common problem. For major occupancy buildings, you must ensure there are identical keys to the cabinet at all supervisory or security stations and there is an electrical remote release.

3. Keep Instructions Facing Forward

Fire extinguisher placement doesn’t just apply to location. It also means placing the extinguisher so users can view the instructions easily. If you multiple classifications, such as A, B or C, and they’re placed near each other, you’ll want individuals to be able to see which extinguisher they need.

In most cases, you’ll want to install multi-purpose fire extinguishers if you have multiple hazards in a single area. No matter what type of extinguisher you have, always install the extinguisher with the instructions facing forward.

4. Keep Fire Extinguishers Close

You always want your fire extinguishers to be close by, but this doesn’t mean you need one every few metres. Optimal fire extinguisher placement means keeping extinguishers within easy traveling distance according to the Ontario Fire Code Subsection 6.2.6.

For Class A extinguishers, they should be no more than 25 metres apart. Class B placement requires that fire extinguishers should be no more than 9-15 metres apart, depending upon the size of the extinguisher.

For Class C, the extinguisher should be kept inside or directly outside the room containing the electrical equipment. With Class D, keep the extinguisher no more than 25 metres away from the potential hazard.

Naturally, if you have a high hazard area or there are obstacles in the room, you may want to place an additional fire extinguisher to minimise traveling distance and ensure the best possible scenario for putting out a fire quickly.

5. Know Your Hazards

The most important thing to remember for the best possible fire extinguisher placement is to know your hazards. For instance, you’d want your commercial kitchen extinguishers closer at hand than general fire extinguishers throughout a restaurant.

The more you understand your hazards, the easier it’ll be to place the right type of extinguishers and the right amount within a set space. A combination of multi-purpose and hazard-specific are typically needed and will need to be placed according to the hazard type.

Once your extinguishers are placed, don’t forget about regular maintenance. Contact All Protect Systems to learn more about maintaining your fire extinguishers.

Image: PublicDomainImages

How Often Should You Review Your Fire Safety Plan

Posted: May 1st, 2019

A fire safety plan is designed to help you escape as quickly and safely as possible should the worst happen. However, it shouldn’t be a plan that’s created once and never looked at again.

Over time, things may change in your structure requiring revisions to your plan. Of course, if the use of the building changes, additional revisions may be necessary too.

By law, you have to review your fire safety plan regularly. This is for your safety and the safety of all occupants in the building.

Annual Reviews

According to Ontario Fire Codes in subsection 2.8.2, you have to review your fire safety plan at least every 12 months. Keep in mind this is the minimum. However, they should be reviewed as often as necessary to ensure the safety of occupants.

All aspects of the plan should be fully reviewed. If any changes are made to the building or use of the building, the plan should be reviewed immediately after the changes are made.

In the case of major demolition or construction, a temporary plan should be put into place to account for the new hazards. As soon as the construction is over, it’s important to review the previous fire safety plan to ensure it’s still valid.

Main Areas To Review

The Fire Codes require buildings to have a fire safety plan in place at all times. During your review, you should check each of the following:

  • Emergency procedures, such as sounding alarms, notifying the local fire department, escape routes, evacuation procedures and controlling the fire
  • Assigning and training supervisory staff
  • Ensuring documents diagramming the fire emergency systems are current
  • List when and how fire drills are carried out
  • Detail how fire hazards will be controlled
  • List preventative maintenance for overall safety
  • Provide alternative solutions should your fire protection systems go down

After reviewing all of these, place the revised version of your fire safety plan in an approved location. This should be a location that’s easy for others to see and access in the event of a fire.

If you didn’t make any revisions, add the latest review date to your existing plan. This allows everyone to know that it was reviewed within the last 12 months.

If you run a retirement home or care facility, you must keep your fire safety plans on record for at least two years, even if they’ve been replaced with a newer version. The Chief Fire Official may request to see them at any point. This is just to double-check the safety of the occupants.

Reviews For Homeowners

Much like with commercial businesses and residential structures, homeowners should also have a current fire safety plan in place. Reviewing these annually and holding regular fire drills helps to keep your entire family safer.

Why Review Your Fire Safety Plan

It takes time to review your fire safety plan and that’s why some people don’t want to do it. After all, why bother if nothing has changed? However, it’s important to review all existing plans as a refresher so everyone knows what to do if a fire occurs. Plus, you may see better ways of evacuating than you did in the past.

Another reason is to ensure your plan is up to date with the latest fire codes. If your plan doesn’t meet the minimum standards, you could face fines or worse if a fire does happen and you weren’t prepared. Remember, it’s not just the building on the line – it’s everyone inside and the surrounding area about your building. Having a current plan in place keeps everyone safer. That’s well worth taking the time for.

Do you need help in creating an up to code fire safety plan for your structure? See how our Fire Safety Plans service can help.