What is fire prevention?
Fire prevention is an important component of a health and safety program. A fire prevention program combines engineering, work practice and administrative controls. An effective prevention program will provide your employees with the tools and information they need to work safely and protect themselves and your business from the devastation of fire.
What the law says
The Occupational Health and Safety Act, which gives the Government of Ontario broad powers to make regulations, sets out general principles and duties for the workplace parties, but there is also specific legislation respecting fire prevention including (but not necessarily limited to):
- Ontario Fire Code (O.Reg. 213/07)
- Ontario Building Code (O.Reg. 350/06)
- Ontario Regulations for Industrial Establishments:
- Storage of Flammable Liquids (s.22)
- Portable containers for dispensing flammable liquids (s.23)
- Canadian Electrical Code Part 1 (C22.1-C22.1-09)
- Ontario Electrical Safety Code (24th edition/2009) (Section 18: Hazardous Locations)
- WHMIS (RBO 1990, Regulation 860)
Contact your health and safety provider for additional information about the legislation that applies to your workplace.
How having a fire prevention program can help your business
Catastrophic losses - human, property and environmental - can have significant impact on your company's production, morale and continued viability. The damage and downtime resulting from even a "small fire" can be detrimental to your company's ability to remain in business.
What you can do
The first thing you can do to protect your employees, your property and the environment from a fire is to do a workplace assessment. You will be evaluating your workplace for:
- Fire hazards
- Effectiveness of controls
- Emergency preparedness
Next, collect an inventory of all the hazardous materials used in your workplace; this will prove useful in developing your fire prevention plan. Follow this up with a walk-through assessment of your workplace. Your inspection should answer questions such as:
- Are all sources of ignition identified?
- Is all wiring properly installed and of approved construction, without extensions or temporary wiring?
- Are ventilation systems implemented and working properly?
- Is garbage removed daily or more frequently?
- Are aisles and floors free of oil and other flammable spills?
- Is there an approved fire safety plan posted?
- Is there a spill control procedure posted?
Using the information you have collected, develop a basic floor plan. The results of your workplace assessment will help you determine the need to improve or implement fire prevention and control procedures and/or an emergency plan.
Contact your health and safety association for information on how to develop and implement a fire prevention and control plan that meets the needs of your company and addresses all of the obstacles found in your assessment.