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Fireproof Your Workspace: Design and Safety Tips to Keep Your Office Safe

Maintenance & Repair

(Guest Writer: David Tan)

After investing years of resources in establishing a successful business, the last thing you want is a deadly fire in your office premises. As entrepreneurs, our main concerns revolve around business issues such as high customer churn, data breach, marketing mishaps, funding issues, and legal complications. However, fire accidents can cause immense damage to your business. A fire accident not only reduces your property to ashes but also endangers the lives of your employees and visitors.

If you’re an owner or a manager of a commercial property, it’s crucial to comprehend and uphold your obligations when it comes to fire safety. Take some time to ask yourself – When was the last time you conducted electrical preventive maintenance? Does your workspace have a designated smoking area, free and unobstructed access to fire exits, and fire prevention devices such as fire alarms or extinguishers?

Here are a few effective design and safety tips that can keep your property and employees safe from life-threatening fire hazards.

1. Use Fire-Resistant Building Materials

Owing to the obvious benefits they offer, workspaces are investing in fire-resistant building materials as a primary measure to maximise fire protection coverage. These materials reduce the risk of fire hazards and can also boost the overall ambiance of the workspace. Here is a list of fire-resistant materials that can be used to fireproof your commercial property.

  • Fire Rated Glass: Normal glass windows can be a fire hazard. Installing fire-resistant windows and partitions will double the time taken for fires to spread. Using fire rated glass for this purpose will help create firewalls that prevent a fire from spreading from one section of the building to another.
  • Concrete: Concrete is one of the most common materials used to build structures and it possesses high fire resistance. Concrete is non-combustible and has low thermal conductivity. Hence, it takes a long time for the fire to consume it, thereby restricting the spread of fire. In fact, it is considerably more fire-resistant than steel and is often used to reinforce and protect steel from fire.
  • Brick: As bricks are manufactured in a fire kiln, they have extreme resistance to fire. A structure made of bricks and mortar can achieve a fire-resistance rating as high as four hours, depending on the structure and thickness of the wall.



2. Have a Designated Smoking Area

Provide a designated smoking area for employees who need regular smoke breaks.

Encourage them to extinguish lit cigarette butts by placing signs to communicate your smoking policies. Place ashtrays and cigarette bins to ensure the safe disposal of the ash and butts.

The aforementioned safety measures will help protect your workplace from accidental fires caused by improper discarding of cigarettes or other smoking materials.



3. Promote Tidiness in the Office

Last but not least, enforce exemplary workplace housekeeping. There are countless reasons why you should keep your workplace clean and tidy, one of which is protection against fire. Random clutter, especially flammable materials such as paper or cartons, can cause a fire to spread swiftly and unhindered. Clutter serves as fuel for the fire; hence, it’s best to get rid of it.

Additionally, clutter creates obstructions, making it difficult for people to gain access to fire fighting equipment or a fire exit in an emergency situation. Maintaining a clean and organised workplace can be of huge significance when it comes to avoiding fire hazards.

If your business produces hazardous, combustible, or flammable waste, it is wise to follow a suitable waste disposal policy, reducing the risk of fires on the office premises. Empty chemical containers and aerosol cans can be extremely dangerous if not disposed of properly. Adhere to all applicable environmental regulations and actively seek to incorporate feasible waste minimisation strategies to make your workplace a safe environment for all.



Final Thoughts

Just as residential fireproofing is critical to the lives of people residing in a neighborhood, workspace fireproofing is indispensable for the safety of your employees and the smooth continuation and success of your business.

Besides incorporating a fireproof office design, business owners should take a few additional steps to safeguard their property and employees from fire hazards.

Invest in regular maintenance of all electric appliances and wiring. Display educational materials like posters around the office, imparting critical information on fire safety to employees. Conduct fire drills at least twice a year. Train employees to use the right protocols in case of a fire evacuation.

Also, designate an assembly point (such as the parking lot) where all employees can safely assemble during an emergency situation. As you endeavour to scale your business, fire safety is probably the last thing on your mind. However, it is critical to safeguard your property and employees from deadly fire hazards.

You can share this information to your colleagues to fireproof your workplace and protect your business from life-threatening accidents. 

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