Fire Safety Tips

State Fire Marshal Wayne Goodwin and Havelock chimney sweep Bob Priesing visited the colonial kitchen fireplace at Tryon Palace as part of National Fire Prevention Week.

From C2C’s Disaster Preparedness Coordinator, Matt Hunt, who is a trained fire engineer and firefighter for the city of Asheboro: 

When was the last time you checked your smoke detectors, conducted a fire drill, or checked your fire extinguishers?  This week marks the 140th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire and the birth of Fire Prevention in our country.  Each year school-aged children all over the United States spend a week learning the important lessons of stop, drop, and roll and basic fire and life safety.  But how much time since elementary school have you (as an adult) spent thinking  about your safety and the safety of your institution? 

Last year in the United States, of the 1.3 million fires reported, 482,000 of these were in occupied structures–both businesses and residential homes.  If you do the math, you can calculate that every 65 seconds a fire is reported in a structure.  It’s a scary figure when you stop and think about it, but it’s better than what we were seeing 25 years ago, when the national average was about every 18 seconds!

We can credit this change to better fire and life safety education as well as stricter building codes and better inspection processes.  Many times I hear how people dread the annual inspection of their cultural institution by their local fire marshal’s office.  These yearly inspections are not being done to hinder our business or be personal burdens for us to deal with, but more to help keep the number of fires down in our country and to protect our lives and property.

Take a few minutes over the next few days to conduct a fire safety drill, check your smoke detectors, or even review with staff the proper use of a fire extinguisher.

Fire Safety Drill

Plan Ahead! If a fire breaks out in your home, or business you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go if there is a fire.

  •     Make an escape plan. Draw a map of your institution showing all doors and windows. Discuss the plan with everyone on your staff.
  •   Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
  •  Have an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) a safe distance from the building where everyone should meet.
  •   Close doors behind you as you leave. (This can slow the spread of fire)

 Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Smoke alarms are an important part of a any fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.

Most institutions will have a commercial system that is monitored and inspected annually by the company that installed it.  However, many of our institutions rely on standard home models for alerting staff to smoke or fire.

If you are using a non-commercial system you should do the following:

  •  Install smoke alarms inside every room, and on every level of the building, including the basement.
  •   For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound.
  •  An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or a combination alarm (photoelectric and ionization) are recommended.
  •   Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

 Fire Extinguisher Use

Fire extinguishers are an essential tool in your escape plan.  Remember that their purpose is not to extinguish a large fire or for you to go back into a burning building.  They are designed to take care of smaller fires or to help you escape.

 Never place yourself in danger.  Always be near an exit and ready to escape if need be.

 Remember the simple steps in using the extinguisher are P-A-S-S.

  •  PULL – Pull the safety pin out of the extinguisher
  •  AIM – Aim the nozzle towards the base of the fire
  •  Squeeze – Squeeze the handle on the extinguisher
  •  Sweep – Sweep the hose back and forth covering the fire

 Another important thing to remember is to always use the correct extinguisher on the fire.  Each extinguisher should have a label marking what it is good for.  Take a few minutes this week to review your extinguishers with your staff and review their proper use.

 Let’s work together to make fire safety our number one concern this year!



About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on October 13, 2011, in disaster preparedness and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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