Fire prevention and planning.Continuing our short articles about fire prevention. Last month we looked at Fire Escapes.  This month we look at Fire Prevention and Planning.

Insurance, which your organisation should have, will only pay-out for damage to buildings and equipment. Depending on your level of cover, you may be able to claim for loss of profits. But the results of a fire can be devastating.

Taking fire risks seriously

It is in the interest of all stakeholders to ensure that the workplace is as risk-free as possible when it comes to fires and that all employees are trained and know how to respond and deal with emergencies and that fire risk is taken seriously. The groan that emanates when the fire drill alarm rings, shows that employees don’t realise the seriousness of the matter.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act

Employers are held to account by the The Occupational Health and Safety Act for the training of all employees. The employer “has a duty to provide and maintain as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of his employee”.

Employers needs to identify risks in the workplace that may affect the health and safety of employees and shall “provide necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employee”.

In previous articles, we’ve covered the causes of and classes of fires and the methods to extinguish them.

Fire prevention and planning.should include how to prevent fires, procedures to be used in case of fire, fire-fighting equipment and staircases and fire escapes.


Fire Prevention

Fire prevention reminders for employees should be continuous. Posters can be displayed such as “Fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility”. The premises must be kept clear and tidy with flammable, combustible and explosive materials controlled and correctly labelled. Try not to use radiant heaters and where necessary they must be kept clear of flammable material such as curtains and blinds.

Emergency Procedures in case of fire

Organise regular fire drills to make employees aware of what they need to do in the event of a fire. Employees need to be trained to take all reasonable and safe measures to put out the fire after sounding the fire alarm. Note that this is critical. Employees must sound the alarm before fighting the fire. All staff need training in evacuating the premises and notifying the fire and emergency services. Windows and doors should be kept closed to stop the fire spreading. Employees should know where their assembly areas are.

Fire-fighting equipment

Keep firefighting equipment accessible with clear, visible signage as to its position and uses. Keep it in good condition and maintain an inspection register. Staff should be trained in equipment usage. Ensure that you have at least the minimum required as per SABS requirements. Fire extinguishers and fire hoses should be positioned to be accessible and in the vicinity of the fire risk, but not so close as to rendered useless if a fire breaks out. .

Staircases and fire escapes

These should be kept clear of obstructions, and if used as a fire escape should be made of non-combustible materials. Staircases between floors should have a handrail.

If you are at all unsure whether you are prepared for the tragedy that is a fire, contact Firebrand for a risk evaluation and solution. See