Fire Safety Tips in the Office During COVID-19

If you’ve returned to the office, you know that procedures have been put in place left, right, and centre, when it comes to combating the spread of COVID-19 within our workplaces. However, in doing so, we must ensure that the protocols we have put in place do not create any additional safety concerns – including a whole new set of fire safety concerns. In this article, we take a look at fire safety tips in the office during COVID-19, and how your office can ensure they’re prepared in the case of an emergency.

Updating Fire Warden Programs

Due to the fact that many employees that formerly worked in the office may have opted to work from home, or whose employment situation has changed due to the pandemic, your office may not have maintained their fire warden from pre-COVID. In this case, it’s important to ensure that your office has appointed a new fire warden and that they’re properly trained in the role. 

Jason Reid of Canadian Firefighters tells us about the importance of appointing a new fire warden if changes in employment due to COVID requires it:

“Employers within commercial high-rise buildings — and retirement homes — are required to appoint fire wardens and/or supervisory staff within their respective work areas, and train them on the building’s approved emergency fire and evacuation procedures. Their role is vital to ensuring no one is left behind and in providing valuable information to both building staff and arriving fire crews.”

Reviewing New Emergency Procedures

It’s a fact that most office buildings will have a lower population when returning to the office, so it’s important to review new emergency procedures. There may be a new fire safety strategy that needs to be put into place, which can be heavily altered by having fewer bodies to evacuate in the building.

Tetra Tech explains why it’s important to review your commercial building’s emergency procedures, especially in light of lower occupancy:

“It is a requirement for building managers to conduct annual or biannual fire drills. While these may end up being postponed, it is important to review and factor lower occupancy into a building’s emergency procedures. The review should ensure the fire safety strategy is not adversely impacted by COVID-19-related measures. A review should also be seen as an opportunity to clearly communicate with building occupants any changes to the strategy or to reinforce the existing strategy. This will reduce the likelihood of confusion in an actual event.” 

COVID Safety Vs. Fire Safety

There has been much speculation over whether COVID safety or fire safety should be put before the other when it comes to fire drills and office evacuations. The answer to this question is that neither should be put before the other, but ultimately, it is essential to ensure that you are able to get everyone that is present outdoors and unharmed. In order to ensure that your employees are following COVID safety measures, it’s important to make sure that employers continue to educate their staff on procedures they need to be following. explains why employer’s need to ensure that their employees’ safety isn’t compromised, while not risking their safety in the event of a fire:

“To ensure that employee safety is not compromised in the event of a fire, a safer alternative to combating the spread of COVID-19 is to increase awareness of how this virus is transmitted. Encourage employees to take the time to frequently wash their hands and also implement cleaning and disinfecting protocols.”

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