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Celebrating Fire Safety Week

Monday, October 10th, 2011

October is Fire Safety Month

October 9-15 is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) official “Fire Prevention Week,” which is an annual event that promotes fire safety for families and businesses.

Fire Prevention Week was created to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. During the 40th anniversary of that tragic event, the Fire Marshals Association of North America began the first National Fire Prevention Day. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first official National Fire Prevention Week and called up a massive change in fire prevention planning.

According to the NFPA, a home structure fire was reported every 87 seconds in 2009, and nearly seven people died each day in those blazes. The economic toll from residential and business fire is vast, with $7.6 billion in losses recorded in 2009. However, through educational efforts such as National Fire Prevention Week, the occurrence of fires has dropped drastically over the years, from more than 700,000 house fires in 1977 to 370,000 in 2010.

Every year the NFPA selects a theme for National Fire Prevention Week. The theme for 2011 is “Protect your family from fire,” and focuses on coordinated efforts for family members and teachers. Here are a few of the themes from past years:

  • The Nation’s Greatest Menace! Do Your Part to Stop This Waste!” (1929)
  • “Learn Not To Burn – Wherever You Are” (1982)
  •  “Use Candles with Care” (2005)

Fire Prevention Week activities at schools and other organizations focus on preparedness in several key areas:

  • Establishment and practicing sensible escape routes with designated alternates
  • Inspection and care of home smoke detectors
  • Information about home sprinkler systems and their ability to stop fires within minutes
  • Dangers associated with fires from heating appliances, fireplaces, and stoves
  • Special emphasis on smokers and the acute risk of fire from un-extinguished cigarettes
  • Candle care and safety

For businesses, fire safety should be a 52-week focus, not just one that is observed during Fire Prevention Week. Business and facility management can take many steps to reduce the risk of fire:

  • Create a sound fire plan that includes evacuation routes, designated fire wardens and procedures to account for every employee and visitor during a fire emergency.
  • Install and inspect to make sure the right classes of fire extinguishers are located in code-required locations.
  • Implement clear rules on the use of space heaters and other portable devices that can pose safety hazards.
  • Encourage employees to report dangerous situations. Give them the opportunity to reach your building manager confidentiality if they need to report a sensitive issue.

Fire Safety Week is an ideal chance for individuals and businesses to reflect on what they can do to keep people and property protected from fire. Practicing common sense and building a knowledge base about fire are the best ways for people to avoid tragedy.

Covering more than 300 million square feet of commercial property, the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System ensures compliance with related fire codes. It is an interactive e-learning system that provides tenants, building owners, and facility managers with instant feedback. Convenient and affordable for businesses of any size, the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System can reduce training workloads by 90 percent while saving more than 50 percent when compared to conventional training methods. Proper training and code compliance can greatly reduce your liability in the event of a disaster.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Back to Business After a Disaster

Monday, June 13th, 2011
Corp people at a desk looking over blueprints

You can get back to work following any disaster.

Your business has planned for any disaster. Fire extinguishers are frequently checked and positioned in the right area. You have a well thought out evacuation route with primary and secondary meeting places. But does your business have a plan for getting back to work after a disaster?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, up to 40 percent of businesses adversely affected by natural or man-made disasters fail to reopen. To be a part of the other 60 percent requires prior planning and a sound disaster recovery and business continuity plan.

Before you begin a disaster recovery plan, you need to take these steps:

  • Form an internal team comprised of individuals from several departments who possess deep knowledge about the business. (Include employees from several levels. You wouldn’t want only upper management involved.)
  • Build a list of critical processes and services that must be up and running after a disaster. Plans that have specific and tested tasks are critical. For example: “Product ordering available within 24 hours of the disaster.”
  • Review your rental agreement for specific terms regarding the landlord’s responsibilities. If your building burns down because of the actions of another tenant, what is your recourse?
  • Consider hiring an auditor to review your procedures. These professionals can determine if your plan is unrealistically optimistic or if it includes any logistical holes.

Key disaster recovery plan components to get your business back to work:

  • Establish procedures to let all employees know that a disaster has occurred. Ensure personal email addresses and cell phone numbers are available and frequently updated for key disaster implementation personnel.
  • Review the disaster to determine if the delay in business functions will be temporary or could last weeks. (The detailed disaster plan should have specific tasks based on the duration of the disaster.)
  • Store insurance documents and other critical documents both as scanned images on an off-site server and in hard copies stowed in a safety-deposit box.
  • Select alternative warehouse or inventory locations in case primary locations are damaged in a disaster.
  • Find alternative locations for business operations. Determine, in the planning stages, which employees need to be congregated together and which ones can work remotely.
  • Consider options for manufacturing products if your facility is damaged. Can you lease space from another facility that is under-capacity?
  • If your company produces non-perishable items that aren’t custom built, then you should calculate how many days or weeks you can fulfill orders using current inventory. If the disaster will put you out of commission for a month but you can only fulfill 10 days of orders, then you have a problem!

For many businesses, essential business functions can go on even if the organization’s facilities are determined to be unsafe. With cloud computing storing virtual data, real-time chat and other tools, many employees will be able to work from home or gathered together in small groups at remote locations.

Tips for protecting your company data and enabling seamless work productivity after a disaster:

  • Task the IT department with finding the best solution for off-site data backup. New advancements in cloud computing allow redundant systems to be set up quickly and inexpensively. Older tape-backup systems can be cumbersome to retrieve or lost in transport–putting your company’s data at risk.
  • Consider backing up entire applications and processes, not just data. Nearly every professional function can now be performed virtually.
  • Give employees the option to check email from home. Even if “working from home” is not currently part of corporate culture, providing access in advance may help your company in the long run, as employees with ready access to key documents and applications will be well prepared to work immediately following any natural or manmade disaster.
  • Protect your intellectual property. If you run a manufacturing company, you might use a proprietary process to make your product. Make sure this information is stored offsite and is not simply located in on-site computers or assembly machines.

For businesses, failure to plan concrete steps necessary for recovering after disasters can result in complete business failure. Creating a disaster recovery and business continuity plan is a worthwhile exercise to encourage your company to consider and manage worst-case scenarios.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Fire Safety: A to Z

Monday, August 9th, 2010
Fire Safety A-Z

Fire Safety A-Z

Final Post in Our Fire-Safety Series

For the final post in our series about fire safety, we would like to recap the top 26 tips for preventing and responding to fires at home and work, as well as a myriad of reasons for signing up for The Allied Universal Safety Training System.

A~A to D Fire Extinguishers

(With so many fire extinguishers to choose from, selecting the proper one for use at your home and in the office can be a daunting task. Since use of the wrong type of fire can actually cause the fire to spread, pay careful attention to the difference.)

A-Rated Extinguishers– extinguish ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, and most plastics. The numerical rating on these indicates the amount of water they will hold and the amount of fire they are capable of extinguishing.
B-Rated Extinguishers– battle flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease and oil. The numerical rating for this class indicates the approximate number of square feet of fire they can extinguish.

C-Rated Extinguishers– fight fires caused by electrical equipment, appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. Never use water to extinguish class C fires. The risk of electrical shock is far too great! Class C extinguishers do not have a numerical rating. The C classification means the extinguishing agent is non-conductive.

D-Rated Extinguishers– are most commonly used in chemical laboratories. They are for fires that involve combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These extinguishers do not feature numerical ratings or multi-purpose ratings. Instead, they are designed for class D fires only.

Emergency Evacuation Plan If fire extinguishers are required or provided in your workplace, and if anyone will be evacuating during a fire or other emergency, then OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.157 requires you to have an EAP.

Fumes from containers that are not properly sealed can be carried on air currents to the flame of a water heater or the pilot light on a stove.

Gas Appliance fires lead to the deaths of 14 people annually, who succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning. These deaths are caused by gas appliances and flues which have not been properly installed or maintained. Make sure your gas-powered appliances are in good working-condition.

High-Quality Animation keeps clients engaged. To ensure the highest rate of retention possible, Allied Universal Inc. hired former Disney, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros. artists to create engaging animated online e-tutorials.

Integrated System-A fully-integrated system, the Allied Universal Training System allows property management companies to manage one site or an entire portfolio, with all users in the same system.

Join the US Green Building Council which is a non-profit community of leaders working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation. Allied Universal, Inc. is a proud member of the USGBC. Reducing needless waste lessens the risk of e-related fire.

K-Rated Fire Extinguishers are manufactured to battle fires that involve vegetable oils, animal oils, or fats in cooking appliances. This is for commercial kitchens, including those found in restaurants, cafeterias and catering locations.

Landfill fires are on the rise. The EPA says that as we become more dependent on electronic products to make life more convenient, the stockpile of used, obsolete products continues to grow. To help prevent this type of fire risk, dispose of e-waste responsibly.

Make sure your tenants know evacuation routes. The best way to do this is to conduct regular drills.

NFPA National Fire Protection Association endeavors to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.

Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s).

Post Evacuation Routes clearly, so locations become second nature during actual emergencies.

Quiz your tenants, employees and family members regularly to make sure they remember safe evacuation routes and emergency procedures.

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Encourage tenants to delay purchasing new equipment when current electronics work properly. Reusing toner cartridges and cell phones puts less of a strain on natural resources.

Slightest Spark can start a devastating fire; so proper handling and use as well as proper storage of volatile materials are essential.

Tenant Safety is of paramount importance to property owners and managers. With our system, you can train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors how to respond in emergencies. All user-training and testing is recorded and available for review at your convenience.

Up to Code– Federal, state, and local laws require annual training for every commercial building occupant. However, studies show that less than 20% of occupants have ever trained or know what to do in an emergency. That means 80% of your occupants are at risk and could represent a liability to themselves and you.

View Map Link– Allied Universal Inc. clients have access to multiple views of individual properties and the surrounding areas in our Version 2.0 system. The maps not only provide driving directions to the building. But, more importantly, they provide access to Google Earth 3-D views of the surrounding area. Such detail prevents emergency responders from “flying blind” in an emergency.

Watch for fire risks. A fire watch ensures the fire-safety of a building or area in the event of any act, e.g., hot work, or situation instigating an increased risk to persons or property.

Xeric conditions pose greater risk of fire. Make sure dry landscaping around buildings is watered on a regular basis.

You can train occupants, floor wardens, and fire safety directors with our system. All user-training and testing is recorded. Get quick access to building specific Emergency Responder information and other resources.

Zealously guard your property to ensure fire safety strategies are observed. At Allied Universal, Inc., our mission is to create a safer, more informed occupant who understands their responsibilities and may be capable of helping others.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Check back next week, when we will begin a series about hurricane safety and preparation. In the meantime, BE SAFE

Fire Extinguishers and Sprinkler Systems

Monday, March 1st, 2010
The best way to fight fire is with prevention.

The best way to fight fire is with prevention.

Despite your best efforts in prevention, fire remains a very real risk for virtually any residential or commercial property. In previous blog posts, we have discussed fire hazards in office buildings, to help you identify and prevent potential fire hazards from leading to costly fires. But if a fire breaks out, in spite of your efforts to thwart one, much of the damage can be slowed or stopped if you prepare by obtaining fire equipment such as a complete sprinkler system and accessible fire extinguishers.

According to NFPA research, the chances of an individual dying in a fire protected by the right equipment are reduced by 50-75%, and the average property loss per fire is cut by one-third to two-thirds (34-68%), compared to fires in buildings where sprinklers are not present. In 2008, there were 112,000 fires nationally in non-residential structures which caused a total of more than $3.8 billion in damages. Don’t let your building become another statistic. Instead, ensure that you have the right equipment on hand.

Fire Sprinkler Systems:

  • The two main types are wet and dry sprinkler systems. Both use water. However, many people prefer the “dry” system, since water isn’t stored in pipes, so it won’t freeze. It features pressurized air or nitrogen which allows water in via a valve. With a Wet System, pressurized water sits in pipes at all times.
  • Proper installation is the key to ensure building protection.
    • The spray pattern of each nozzle needs to be sufficient to cover all areas.
    • A minimum of a 30-minute water supply should be available. A back-up supply is advisable for larger systems. Don’t forget that, in the event of a fire, you and the fire department will be using the same water supply.
    • Choose the right temperature rating of sprinkler to match the expected ceiling temperature of the fire. This is important because proper water temp will prevent costly accidental discharges. Sprinkler bulbs are color coded to match different temperatures. Your installers should check with applicable NFPA codes to be sure the right bulbs are in use.
    • Once the sprinklers are installed, make sure they are properly maintained.
      • All the hose connections should be checked frequently for corrosion and misalignment.
      • OSHA recommends that a main drain flow test be performed annually.
      • Boxes and other materials should not be stacked close to sprinkler heads so they won’t block water coverage.

Fire Extinguishers:

  • Tenants and building management should understand that extinguishers should only be used for small fires that are not producing toxic smoke. Assisting in evacuation efforts and personal safety should always come before attempting to use extinguishers.
  • All able-bodied tenants should be instructed on basic fire extinguisher usage.
  • Fire extinguisher location is important to ensure adequate floor-by-floor coverage.
  • Extinguishers come in several “classes,” including A, B, C, D, and K. Each type of extinguisher is used for a certain type of fire. This is especially important for any tenants that have lots of electronics equipment or use certain chemicals.
  • Check yearly updates from the NFPA on fire extinguisher standards.
  • Extinguisher locations should be clearly marked. Extinguishers should be visible and for pressure should be verified.

    The Best Way to Fight Fire is Prevention

    The Best Way to Fight Fire is Prevention

For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal. Our e-based system offers the best emergency training available, with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Emergency Preparedness Gifts for the Holidays

Monday, December 21st, 2009
Give the gift of emergency preparedness.

Give the gift of emergency preparedness.

With the holiday season, some people experience anxiety about finding that one “perfect” gift for everyone on their list. Have you considered giving a gift that is both practical and potentially life-saving? An emergency preparedness gift will fill the bill.

If you give the gift of emergency preparedness, you will be encouraging the recipient to carefully consider whether he or she is prepared for emergencies. Maybe your gift will encourage them to develop a comprehensive emergency plan with exit routes, meeting locations, and an inventory of supplies and equipment. If the recipient owns a business and/or a building, your gift might encourage them to consider tenant’s safety equipment and procedures. You never know. Your generosity at Christmastime might just save a life.

“Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere. And the holiday season provides a great opportunity to ensure that you and your loved ones are taking simple steps to be prepared,” said FEMA administrator, Craig Fugate.” Our friends at FEMA have put together a list of great gifts for the holidays, and, in this blog, we took a closer look at a few of them.

For all of these gifts, consider buying a high-quality item that will last a long time. No one wants a defective piece of equipment during an actual emergency. So be sure your gifts are made by reputable companies.

Flashlights and lamps:

  • Essential for all emergencies, battery-powered flashlights and lamps allow you navigate nighttime emergencies, safely
  • Great for signaling rescuers and navigating buildings that have stairwells

Disaster kit:

  • Every complete disaster kit requires a first aid kit that comes with an injury manual that shows you how to use the supplies
  • Other important items include thermal blankets and specially-packaged water and food

Fire extinguishers:

  • A quality fire extinguisher can save lives and homes
  • Even if your gift recipients have extinguishers, they might be very old or expired (Extinguishers won’t do you any good if they don’t work when you need them!)
  • Read about the different types of extinguishers before purchasing, especially if you’re purchasing them for building occupants that store toxic chemicals or other substances.

Other gifts mentioned on FEMA’s list include NOAA weather radios, foldable ladders, enrollment in a CPR class, smoke detectors, and car emergency kits.

If you are a building owner or manager who is thinking about your building’s safety procedures, contact us to discuss our safety training services. BE SAFE.