We’ve all interacted with fire safety tools at some point. Have you ever changed the battery in a smoke detector? Or checked the expiration date on a fire extinguisher? These are pieces of a well-rounded fire protection system that, in our personal lives, can protect our homes, our belongings and our loved ones.
In the business world — and especially in industrial settings —these systems are just as important. They protect workers, equipment and other resources, saving lives, money and time.
Some may believe that the odds are in their favor; that funds spent on fire safety don’t deliver a return. After all, how often do fires occur? Some companies go decades without having any.
Today we’re talking about why having a fire safety system is absolutely critical for a business. If you’re one of those skeptics, we hope by the end you see the light.
The Safety of Your Staff May Depend On It
Fires large and small happen more often than you might think. In 2019, nearly 1.3 million fires were cataloged by FEMA with over 3,700 fire-related deaths and over 16,000 fire-related injuries. According to the figures, 9.4 percent of those fires were non-residential. That equals about 117,000 fires that could have taken place on a job site or in some other work setting with staff onsite.
You probably noticed that there were a lot more fires than there were deaths and injuries. That is almost certainly due to fire safety systems, which are capable of providing early warnings to those nearby and can also help suppress a fire before it becomes uncontrollable. Should a fire break out on your job site someday, a fire protection system could help your employees escape without injury and could even save their lives. That is reason enough to invest in one and ensure it is kept up to code.
OSHA Requires It
OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It’s the government agency that lays out the standards companies must meet for safety at their job sites. It’s also the entity that enforces these standards — like installing and maintaining a fire protection system — and deals out penalties to those who fail to meet its requirements.
Disappointing OSHA is not something you want to do as a business — especially if you like holding on to your money. Since its inception, the agency’s fines have ranged anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $87 million. Avoiding financial punishment shouldn’t be your chief motivator; that should, of course, be safety. But that doesn’t change the fact that keeping fire safety equipment onsite can ensure your company doesn’t have to cut OSHA a check.
It Can Help Minimize Losses In the Event of a Fire
Fires can cause catastrophic amounts of damage when left unchecked. In 2019 alone, FEMA reported that fires resulted in $14.8 billion of loss. You can imagine some of that loss occurred at work locations, where equipment, intellectual property and other valuable (and potentially irreplaceable) resources were reduced to ash.
A fully functioning fire protection system can, in the right circumstances, prevent serious loss from happening entirely. It is much more common, however, for a system to mitigate loss — not eliminating it, but instead minimizing it. This ensures that, should such an unfortunate event occur at your place of work, the cost to your business is not nearly as substantial.
It Allows Work to Resume More Quickly
The “things” you might lose in a fire — equipment, for example — can always be replaced with money. What money can’t buy you, unfortunately, is time. That can only be saved by a system that can deter or suppress a fire.
Imagine there’s a fire on a project site. A smoke detector senses smoke in a region and deploys water via a sprinkler system to stop the fire before it can spread. As a result, unaffected portions of the site do not have to spend weeks recovering. No rebuilding has to occur there. Equipment and infrastructure in those areas won’t need to be replaced. Instead of overwhelming loss — and a significantly delayed project as a result — the impact of the fire is reduced.
With a working fire protection system, this scenario is entirely possible. Without one, a fire could do serious damage not only to your job site, but your project timeline.