In February, a four-alarm fire in Honolulu destroyed a warehouse, resulting in millions of dollars in damage. In May, a two-alarm fire in Kalihi damaged a glass tinting business, leading to $70,000 in damage, including a large hole in an office window. On September 13, Ling’s Chop Suey House in Hilo experienced a grease fire that caused an estimated $120,000 in damage despite being extinguished quickly.
Don’t let your business become the next statistic. Prevent fires with these six safety practices:
- Maintain quality fire safety products. You know you need fire alarms, sprinklers and extinguishers, but remember that they won’t do any good if they don’t work. Provide fire extinguishers that are fully charged and operating properly. Fire alarms must be kept on and clean. They should be tested monthly, and the batteries should be replaced twice a year.
- Watch your appliances and machinery. Old, faulty or misused appliances can cause fires. Your office coffee maker, for example, could be a threat if it malfunctions or is left on overnight. Get rid of broken appliances, check for recalls due to safety issues and make sure you employees turn off appliances when they are not in use. Make sure your machinery is operating correctly, without excessive friction or overheating. Have a professional fix any faulty wiring immediately. Do not overload power outlets or exceed voltage limits.
- Train your employees. Make sure employees are properly trained in the correct use of all equipment, as well as the storage and disposal of fire hazards, such as chemicals and oily rags. Make sure all employees know what to do if a fire occurs, including the location and operation of fire extinguishers, the emergency numbers to call and the exits to use.
- Be cautious of fireworks. Maui Now reports that, despite bans, aerial fireworks are common throughout Hawaii on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, leading to injuries every year and putting homes and business in danger. Laws and regulations exist to protect people, so it’s important that you and your neighbors follow them.
- Protect your property against arsonists. In 2013, Honolulu had 389 reported cases of arson. To discourage arsonists, consider hiring a security guard, who would also monitor the building for fires resulting from other causes as well as theft and vandalism. Security cameras and bright lights can also help to discourage criminals.
- Follow OSHA regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulations that deal with general workplace fire safety and with safety in specific industries. Hazardous materials must be stored properly, and buildings must have suitable exits that are not blocked. Some companies are required to maintain fire prevention plans and emergency action plans. Read through all regulations pertaining to your industry.
Fires can be devastating, but many can also be avoided. Practice good fire safety prevention now to prevent heartache and financial loss later. Last, but not least, review your business insurance policy with your FICOH independent agent every year to ensure adequate limits are in place.