That the state machinery is inadequately prepared for fires has been demonstrated countless times. Incidences of the fire engines arriving late to the fire scene to fire engines running out of water is the order of the day and has been observed in all the cases.
Perhaps it is for this reason that some security firms have ventured into fire disaster mitigation to supplement the fire services.
Despite all these challenges, Individuals and organizations should be physically prepared at all times to secure themselves and their properties from fire.
The Question is, “How can the individuals and organizations prepare themselves in the event of a fire outbreak at home or at work? “
The first important step is to keep our homes, offices and business premises hazard free and secondly we should know how to respond to a fire outbreak.
According to fire experts, one item that every household should have is a fire blanket, which should be kept in a place that easily accessible by anyone in the kitchen, the mostly likely source of fire in the home. In addition, it is advisable to have a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher on the sitting room wall and a foam fire extinguisher in the bedroom.
Response to a fire situation for example may arise when you arrive home and find that your gas cylinder has been leaking. The first thing to consider is ventilation. When you open the door, do not turn the lights on or off. Switching the lights on or off produces sparks that can ignite the gas. If the lights were on, leave them on. Do not use torches and spotlights either. Instead crawl to the main valve and turn off the gas. Then open the window and get out of the house.
Children should be trained on basic fire safety. The children should be taught how to handle items that can start fires and such items should be kept out of their reach. Cases have been sighted of a children causing fires by using matchboxes or gas lighters left about by adults. They have also been seen to use cigarette butts thrown carelessly by adult smokers to cause fires.
One cardinal rule that should be taught to the children and indeed to the adults in the workplace as well is that once they exit the building that is on fire, they should not go back for whatever reason. They should not wander around the building but instead go to the fire assembly point to allow the fire marshals to take a head count.
For the workplace, firefighting equipment’s, fire marshals trained in managing a fire before the arrival of the fire engines, and well designated fire exit routes and designated fire assembly point is a must. It also helps to know the landmarks in the surrounding area to enable the person reporting the fire to give clear directions to the fire brigade.
Communication with the fire brigade for direction is important and once they have been called, it is important that the caller leave his/her phone open and un engaged because the firemen may need further direction to the scene and most importantly, they need to make on road preparations. For these preparation, the firemen may need to know how intense the fire is, the suspected cause and the number of people who may be trapped in the building. That will enable them prepare the equipment as they travel and enable them determine the number of people and their possible locations for rescue plans. With his information, they may look for in specific places, and thus save time and possibly lives.
As has been cited above, one of the requirements for preparedness in firefighting should be the availability of some form of firefighting appliances in the homes and in the workplaces. It has been observed that very few homes have such appliances. Most workplaces however have them, but the challenges to fighting a fire is lack of knowledge on what kind of extinguishers to use.