You can help by noticing the following common fire risks and bringing them to your co-workers' attention or to the attention of the Health & Safety Office. We've included explanations for why these seemingly innocuous practices can be a fire risk.
- Fire Extinguishers: They need to be inspected monthly. I will take care of this, but if you notice a fire extinguisher on your floor that is damaged, is missing the pin that locks it while not in use, or has a gauge needle pointing to red rather than green, let me know. When a fire strikes, we want these tools to be effective!
- Extension Cords: If you see one in use, please remove it. Extension cords are not a safe substitute for a surge protector or an additional electrical outlet. If we need more outlets, we need to put in work orders to have them installed. Extension cords cannot tolerate numerous electronic devices and the brown and white ones are essentially useless for this. They get overloaded and fry, starting fires. Extension Cords must be replaced with surge protectors.
- Misuse of Surge Protectors and Power Strips: If you are using a power strip or surge protector, the device must be plugged directly into an outlet and the electronic device must be plugged directly into the power strip/surge protector. Do not use two power strips OR an extension cord and a power strip to make up the distance to an outlet on the other side of your office. Put in a work order for a new outlet. Again, these devices get overloaded by the electrical current and start smoking, leading to a fire. A power strip will not protect your equipment if a surge occurs in the electrical line, but a surge protector will. Get a surge protector.
- Storing Things up to the Ceiling: Don't do it. Fire code requires a 24-inch clearance for all rooms. If there are sprinklers in your workspace, then you must leave 18 inches from the bottom of the sprinkler head. This allows the sprinklers to do their jobs by wetting down the stored material so that it does not catch fire. If the sprinkler head is blocked, it cannot spray the room effectively with water. Anything above the sprinkler head, will be at risk. The sprinklers help keep fire from eating into the ceiling to the floor above.
- Blocked Emergency Exits and Corridors: Keep emergency exits and corridors free of chairs, filing cabinets, small tables and rugs that could cause people to trip. In the event of fire, this is your way to safety. Fires can kill power to the building. During a blaze, the corridor could be smoky and dark. Anything in your way, could cause injury and slow the evacuation of the building and your path to safety!
- Electrical Panels: Most of these will be located in mechanical or custodial closets that the majority of you won't have access to, however, if you do, electrical panels need three feet of clearance on all sides and in front so that they can be easily accessed in case of a fire and electricity can be shut off to various parts of the floor or building.
- Door Stops: No wooden door chocks allowed. The door serves to protect you in a fire. Some offer more protection than others. Doors with a fire rating will indicate how long they are expected to hold up in a fire. If the door is open, it has a fire rating of zero minutes and offers no protection! Wooden door chocks damage doors as well. If you need to have a door open for air circulation and to stay cool, then use a rubber chock. But remove the chock any time you leave the room.
- Malfunctioning Exit Lights, Missing Switch Plates and Outlet Covers: If you notice any of these problems, please put in a work order and notify me. Each of these devices help reduce the risk of fire and injury.