Fires: Prevention & Protection 101
Much of the work done on a construction site can spark a fire. Fires take lives, property, and often a lengthy recovery time. Most people think a fire will never happen to them… until it does. That’s why it’s imperative that every affiliate have a Fire Safety plan in place, including fire prevention and evacuation procedures.
Fire Prevention Techniques
- Flammable materials must be stored in the appropriate container, such as safety cans, and locked in storage lockers when not in use.
- Implement procedures for turning off coffee pots, steamers, space heaters or any other heat producing equipment at the end of the day.
- Set up smokeless ashtrays on the jobsite, if smoking is permitted. These prevent employees and visitors from throwing a burning cigarette butt on the ground. Never allow smoking inside a house under construction.
- If your facilities have a fire suppression system, make sure that it is properly maintained.
- There must be two means of escape in each workplace to allow for safe evacuation in the event of a fire. Exit routes must be clear of obstructions, and properly marked.
In the event a fire ignites, a safe escape for all workers should be your primary concern. Have an emergency evacuation plan for your offices, ReStore and jobsites. An evacuation plan should include:
– Where to meet in the event of a fire
– Who’s responsible for making sure bathrooms, stairwells and offices are clear of people
– Who’s in charge of accounting for everyone
OSHA is a great source in developing an evacuation plan for your affiliate. Information can be found at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/evacuation/index.html. Once you have a written plan, publish it and review it with your employees and volunteers periodically.
Fire extinguishers should always be kept on the jobsite, in your offices and in a ReStores. OSHA recommends that you keep one every 3,000 square feet, and a minimum of one B fire extinguisher within 50 feet of five gallons of flammable liquid or five pounds of flammable gas.
Be sure to use the proper fire extinguisher for the situation; a letter classification is given to an extinguisher to designate the class or classes of fire which it will put out.
Class A – Ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth and paper.
Class B – Flammable liquids, gases and greases.
Class C – Energized electrical equipment.
Class D – Combustible metals like potassium, mercury, aluminum and magnesium.
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
In the event of a fire your first response should be to evacuate all people. The second thing to do is contact the local fire department. However, if the fire is small enough that you can put it out the PASS guidelines can be used for proper usage of a fire extinguisher.
P – Pull the pin.
A – Aim the nozzle at the base of the flames.
S – Squeeze the trigger.
S – Sweep the extinguisher from side to side, covering the area of the fire with the extinguishing agent.
Implementing a Fire Safety plan and using these safety tips can help keep your volunteers and employees safe in the event of a fire. Take charge, and make sure your volunteers and employees understand, and practice, your fire safety plan.
And remember to always get a signed waiver from all volunteers prior to them working on the jobsite! If you have any questions please call the Habitat for Humanity Affiliate Insurance Program at (888) 553-9002.