Question. How can I make my building safe against fire?
There are lots of simple ways to make your building safer against fire. The simplest things you can do for yourself, like checking to see if you have electric wires located under rugs or carpets. If a wire like that gets worn you can't see it and the rug can easily catch fire. Another simple thing is to install smoke detectors. Built up of smoke would normally happen faster than a big fire. Therefore alarms through early detection of smoke will alert the occupants well before a full scale fire. Statistics have shown that there had been more deaths due choking (smoke inhalation) rather than being burnt (fire). A smoke detector placed on the ceiling outside a bedroom door will alert sleepers and they can escape. Of course there are many other things you can do to make a building safer and for some things you need specialist help.
Question. Isn't fire insurance the answer?
Fire Insurance compensates you for loss of property. It cannot compensate you for loss of life. We are talking about preventing the fire in the first place and saving lives and property if a fire should break out.
Question. My building has security grilles (bars) on all the ground floor windows. Is this a problem?
As a general rule you should have 2 escape routes from every room. This usually means one door and one window. If the window is barred then you have only one escape route. If there is a fire outside the door, then you have no escape route. It may sound alarmist but yes, this is a problem.
Question. We have fire extinguishers where I work. Is that enough?
Fire extinguishers should be serviced every year and the service company tag or label shows the date it was last serviced and it is due for its next service. Take a look and see if your fire extinguishers have been kept up to date. You should be trained on how to operate a fire extinguisher - how to hold it, set it off and direct it. You also need some basic training with fire extinguishers to learn what kind of extinguisher to use on what kind of fire.
Question. But fire is only an issue in wooden buildings. I live and work in modern brick and concrete buildings so I'm ok, right?
As we said before, more people choke to death in fires than burn to death and much of the smoke comes from the contents of building burning - carpets, furniture, electric wiring and materials stored in the building for example.