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Getting Involved With Fire Prevention Week

Monday, October 4th, 2010
This Year For Fire Prevention Week, Thank a Firefighter!

This Year For Fire Prevention Week, Thank a Firefighter!

Fire is a frequent topic of safety discussions because it is a primal force that strikes fear in the heart of man and beast. It is also a relatively common occurrence compared to other disasters, and can cause severe damage to people as well as structures.

Raising awareness about fire safety is a priority of fire departments. October 3-9 is the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) official Fire Prevention Week. The NFPA has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for nearly 90 years, and has made great strides in the area of fire safety for the public.

It took a great tragedy to encourage the development of a week dedicated to fire safety. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire roared through Chicago, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless and 17,000 structures destroyed. While most people believe a cow started the fire, many historians note other possible culprits. Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the fire, and marked the start of fire departments’ role in education and prevention, in addition to the physical acts of fighting fires.

Fire Prevention Week reinforces the basics of fire safety to the public. The theme of this years’ Fire Prevention Week is Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With! The NFPA is making a big push for smoke alarms to be installed, properly upgraded and maintained in residential and commercial buildings.

The NFPA has several initiatives for this years’ Fire Prevention Week which are offered to fire departments and other similar agencies for fire education initiatives:

Video Tutorials and Audio PSAs:

  • A video about smoke alarm safety includes information about the benefits of interconnecting alarms, testing alarms, checking for expiration dates and regularly replacing batteries.
  • Downloadable MP3 audio files that discuss fire alarm safety.

How can building owners participate in Fire Prevention Week?

  • Distribute free safety materials from the NFPA, FEMA and other agencies
  • Review your overall fire safety plan including evacuation routes, location of extinguishers, rules on stairwell and elevator usage, etc.
  • Invite your local fire department to fire safety activities. Firefighters are sometimes willing to conduct special events such as parades. Organize an interactive event where employees and facility management can speak directly to firefighters.

Fire Prevention Week is an opportunity for building owners to engage staff and employees in preventing the threat of fire. To learn more about fire safety, review the many fire-related topics that we have covered in previous posts, including: fire evacuation procedures, flammable materials, extinguishers and sprinkler systems, and fire hazards.

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

Monday, July 12th, 2010
Steps to take to be fire-safe.

Steps to take to be fire-safe.

Part 2 in a Series

Since a fire department in the United States responds to a report of fire every 19 seconds, fire is an ever-present danger at work, home or even when you are traveling. Fire is also one of the most common emergencies following an earthquake, explosion, terrorist attack, power surge or other natural or manmade disaster.

Since you never know when fire will strike, you should be careful to prepare so you will immediately know what to do in case of emergency. In this series, we hope to educate you in an effort to help you and your tenants prepare for fire. Today’s post will discuss the ways that you, as a building owner or property manager, can mitigate the risk of fire by making sound choices for building materials and furnishings and by educating tenants about taking responsibility for their own safety.

Making sound choices for building materials

If your property is still under construction, install fire-safe materials wherever possible.

David Horne, a member of the Fire Safe Council (FSC), admits that it’s impossible to take the risk of a fire down to zero unless you live in a bunker.

But he says, “Builders can make their (projects) between 20 percent and 70 percent less likely to burn from the outside by choosing fire-resistant materials and veering from traditional designs.”

Here are some fire-safe installation ideas from the FSC:

  • Install stucco, fiber cement, and other noncombustible cladding materials
  • Build eaves and roof decks that are boxed in and never made from wood.
  • Omit windows from exterior walls that sit close together.
  • Add an extra layer of gypsum or another fire-resistant material beneath the siding on facing walls
  • Install double- or triple-pane windows to keep intense heat from breaking the windows
  • Choose noncombustible materials for fences

Making Sound Fire-Safe Choices for Furnishings

Even if your property has already been built, you can take steps to lessen the risk of home, apartment or office fire.

Upholstered furniture, wall coverings, flooring and mattresses burn quickly and produce large amounts of toxic smoke. Burning upholstered furnishings or mattresses contribute to nearly every home fire death. Understanding the hazards associated with these furnishings will help you choose fire-safe products.

Whenever possible, select upholstered furniture that has been treated with fire retardant. Some professional organizations and the state of California have developed manufacturing standards to increase the fire resistance of certain types of furniture. For a complete list of these guidelines, check out the technical bulletins released by the California Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Home Furnishing and Thermal Insulation.

Educating Tenants about Fire Safety

In a perfect world, everyone would know how to prepare for disaster and would take the necessary steps to mitigate risks. Sadly, we live in an imperfect world. So don’t assume that your tenants know how to proactively prevent fires or prepare for emergencies. Although you are not obligated to do so, it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to provide helpful, straight-forward guidelines for them to follow, so in the event of emergency, they are without excuse.

Print these helpful tips for distribution,  for information about fire safety at home, tips for basic home fire safety and fire safety at work.  The headline for each of these fact sheets notes that the responsibility for fire safety and disaster preparedness rests squarely on the shoulders of each individual. Additional reference materials are also available through FEMA and the National Fire Protection Association.  Whichever fire safety guidelines you prefer, post them in a central location.

Next week, we’ll look at the ways that you can mitigate the risk of fire by adopting best practices for storing flammable materials. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for property owners and 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.

Evacuation Planning Vital to Tenant Safety

Monday, February 15th, 2010
Make sure you know how to exit your building in case of emergency

Make sure you know how to exit your building in case of emergency.

It’s human nature to panic when disaster strikes. The result can be confusion, indecision and failure to react quickly. If, on the other hand, written procedures are followed, groups understand safety procedures and individuals are properly trained to take charge of the situation, evacuation can be swift, smooth and safe.

Let’s take a look at the necessary steps to ensure quick and thorough building evacuations:

  • The first step is to consider the type of emergency situation.
    • In cases of fire, the primary objective is to clear the entire building as quickly as possible.
    • For tornadoes, a safer option might be to instruct people to congregate in a large room located on the first floor instead of meeting outside. As always, proper preparation and written procedures are essential.

Employees and tenants need to be willing to take direction from the people who are in charge and feel confident that building management has control of any and every situation. Ensure there is a clear chain of command. Employees and tenants need to be willing to take direction from the people who are in charge and feel confident that building management has control of any and every situation.

Floor Wardens need to take charge and understand their responsibilities:

  • Know the proper evacuation routes and internal and external safe refuge areas.
  • Note any building occupants who need special assistance and assign someone to assist them.
  • Familiarize residents and employees with the location of alarm pull stations and (if they are properly trained to use them), fire extinguishers.
  • Instruct employees not to use elevators during emergencies unless instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
  • Evacuate any pets that are in the building.
  • Designate which tenants or employees should shut off gas lines or other equipment. Advise them to fulfill these duties only if absolutely necessary.
  • Building occupants should be given up-to-date evacuation maps and safety handbooks.
  • Stairwells and hallways should be kept free of boxes and other impediments. Routinely investigate these areas and work with building occupants to determine if additional storage space is necessary so hallways are clear of clutter, to ensure easy emergency exit.
  • Pay special attention to signage. Do a walkthrough of the evacuation route with your entire safety team. Is the escape route clear? If the power is out, will back-up lights and clearly marked egress signs be visible?
  • Establish a secondary meeting area in case the designated space is not usable. In major disasters, the primary exterior safe refuge area (located at least 300 feet away from the building) area(s) may be compromised. So plans should be made for secondary external safe refuge areas.

When disaster strikes, pre-planning, training and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest, most effective, building-specific e-based emergency management training for your building, contact Allied Universal. Our new Version 2.0 training system offers the best in emergency training, free color aerial photograph safe refuge evacuation maps and full automated and integrated features that make training 100% of your occupants or employees both realistic and cost effective. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Emergency Family Plan

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
Will you and your family be ready if disaster strikes?

Will you and your family be ready if disaster strikes?

Planning for an emergency is a project for the entire family. Get your children involved in preparedness to help them understand how important it is to be prepared and encourage them to remain calm under duress. Emergencies could, potentially, happen when you are away and the kids are home. So be sure the babysitter knows the emergency plans, as well.

Earthquakes. Floods. Fire. If one of these strikes, will your family be prepared?

The first step is to identify and focus on the types of events that might occur. Fire happens no matter where you live. Earthquakes are more regional, but remember; some places you wouldn’t think about have had earthquakes. Floods are more common in some areas than others. So, if your home is located in a floodplain, be sure you establish emergency plans to share with your relatives and neighbors.

So how exactly can you get your kids involved?

  • Do a home hazard scavenger hunt to identify dangerous objects. Check every chest of drawers and other large furniture to make sure everything is well-secured to a wall. What about paintings and other loose items? Imagine an earthquake. What could, potentially happen to your possessions?
  • Make an emergency kit! FEMA has a great online matching game that allows children to visualize the key components of an emergency kit. Don’t forget the flashlights and canned goods!
  • After you have squared away your kit, it is time to make a plan! Again, we recommend that you get your children involved. The plan should be written out. But you can also include some simple graphic designs, clip art or photos into the plan to make it easy for younger kids to understand. Here are some key points to cover.
  • Identifying information about each family member
  • Phone contact information. Provide multiple numbers including the addresses of relatives who live far away in case the emergency has knocked out local communications. Put copies of photos in the plan so they can be easily distributed if someone is missing.
  • Make sure everyone understands escape routes from the home and the group meeting area.
  • Large families can enlist older kids as “watchers” over the younger ones
  • Ready.gov has a good emergency plan template

After a disaster, you will need to make sure all of your family members are accounted for and healthy. Then, it’s time to contact agencies such as your local Red Cross and to keep watch on alerts from FEMA.

With proper planning, you can help ensure your family’s safety in case of real emergency. Involvement of all family members is crucial. So Allied Universal, Inc. recommends that you make your plan today. BE SAFE.

Tsunami Preparedness

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

While fires and earthquakes are common occurrences in America, tsunamis are not. But that doesn’t mean we’re without risk.

Like the unexpected tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia in 2004, the coastal United States could experience a tsunami in the future.

To keep you prepared for disasters of all kinds, Allied Universal has compiled the following information aimed at helping you stay informed about issues of life safety.

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