The most important reason to have a Fire Prevention Plan (FPP) is to eliminate the causes of fire, prevent loss of life, and prevent loss of property by fire. The FPP should be developed to comply with the OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.39, Fire Prevention Plans. An effective FPP does all of the following:
Fire safety is everyone's responsibility. All employees should know how to prevent and respond to fires, and are responsible for adhering to company policy regarding fire emergencies.
Management: Management determines fire prevention and protection policies. They should do the following:
Plan Administrator: This person maintains all records pertaining to the plan. The Plan Administrator should also:
Supervisors: Supervisors ensure that employees receive appropriate fire safety training.
Employees: All employees should complete all required training before working without supervision. It's important that employees also:
A fire prevention plan must be in writing, be kept in the workplace, and be made available to employees for review. However, according to OSHA, if you have 10 or fewer employees you may communicate the plan orally to employees.
At a minimum, your fire prevention plan must include:
An employer must inform employees upon initial assignment to a job of the fire hazards to which they are exposed. An employer must also review with each employee those parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for self-protection.
To limit the risk of fires, good housekeeping is critical. All employees should take the following precautions:
Electrical Hazards: Electrical system failures and the misuse of electrical equipment are leading causes of workplace fires. Fires can result from loose ground connections, wiring with frayed insulation, or overloaded fuses, circuits, motors, or outlets.
Portable Heaters: All portable heaters should be approved by the plan administrator. Portable electric heaters should have tip-over protection that automatically shuts off the unit when it is tipped over.
Office Fires Hazards: Fire risks are not limited to industrial facilities. Fires in offices have become more likely because of the increased use of electrical equipment, such as computers.
Welding, Cutting, and Open Flame Work: Welding and cutting and working with open flames are obvious fire hazards in the workplace, and in some cases fire watches need to be positioned close by, and barriers may need to be placed between welding and materials that might catch fire.
Flammable and Combustible Materials: If your workplace contains flammable and combustible materials, the plan administrator should regularly evaluate the presence of those materials.
Smoking in the Workplace: In an effective FPP, smoking is prohibited in all company buildings. Certain outdoor areas may also be designated as no smoking areas. The areas in which smoking is prohibited outdoors should be identified by NO SMOKING signs.
A fire extinguishing system is an engineered set of components that work together to quickly detect a fire, alert occupants, and extinguish the fire before extensive damage can occur. All system components must be:
Fixed Extinguishing Systems: Fixed fire extinguishing/suppression systems are commonly used to protect areas containing valuable or critical equipment such as data processing rooms, telecommunication switches, and process control rooms. Their main function is to quickly extinguish a developing fire and alert occupants before extensive damage occurs by filling the protected area with a gas or chemical extinguishing agent.
Portable Extinguishing Systems: Workplace fires and explosions kill hundreds and injure thousands of workers each year. One way to limit the amount of damage due to such fires is to make portable fire extinguishers an important part of your FPP. When used properly, fire extinguishers can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or controlling a fire until additional help arrives.
For more information on fire extinguishing systems and using portable fire extinguishers, see OSHAcademy course 718 Fire Prevention Plans.
Even though extinguishers come in a number of shapes and sizes, they all operate in a similar manner. Here's an easy acronym for fire extinguisher use:
Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher that keeps the handle from being accidentally pressed.
Aim the nozzle toward the base of the fire.
Squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguisher. Position yourself approximately 8 feet away from the fire. If you release the handle, the discharge will stop.
Sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire. After the fire appears to be out, watch it carefully since it may re-ignite!
Make sure all employees who are expected to use fire extinguishers if a controllable fire occurs are properly trained with hands-on practice. There's no OSHA requirement to actually extinguish a fire or discharge a fire extinguisher during training. However, each employee should handle the fire extinguisher and demonstrate they can perform the PASS steps.
Please click on the video below to learn more about the PASS technique:
Employers should train workers about fire hazards in the workplace and about what to do in a fire emergency.
Management Training Responsibilities. Unless a specific manager is designated, all managers should be responsible for coordinating with the Plan Administrator for training all employees covered under the FPP.
Many of the topics taught in the FPP training may be presented in the classroom. If employees are expected to use portable fire extinguishers, they must participate in "hands-on" exercises that help them understand the procedures. Hands-on training also gives employees an opportunity to demonstrate to trainers that they have the skills required to use fire extinguishers.
At a minimum, FPP Training should include all of the following topics:
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This video, produced by the City of Woodbury, MN, is a great short video that shows what you can do to help prevent fires at work.