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23 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 23 April, 2019 12:33:16 AM
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Fire safety at workplaces and homes

The risk of fire within a workplace needs to be constantly assessed and managed. One of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of fire is to educate staff and promote fire safety awareness
Ayshi Wadia
Fire safety at workplaces and homes

It is important to have a basic understanding about how a fire occurs and behaves within a building. Essentially, fire is a chemical reaction. A carbon-based material (fuel) mixes with oxygen and comes in contact with something hot enough to heat this mixture so that combustible vapours are produced. If these vapours dissipate, then nothing happens. However, if they come in contact with an ignition source--such as open flame--a fire results. Depending on the combustibility of the ignited fuel, the fire may start as a slow-growth scenario with a long smouldering period or it may grow rapidly with almost no smouldering time. In either instance, once visible flames appear, the fire's destructive forces increase exponentially.

 Our country has witnessed a terrible fire in Chawkbazar of Dhaka on February 21.Historically, Chawkbazar of Old Dhaka was started in the Mughal period. And since then this has been an important business centre of Dhaka city. Alongside the business, there are various types of architecture, such as Hosni Dalan, Boro Katra, Chhota Katra or Shahi Mosque, in this Chawkbazar. About four hundred years later, Dhaka has become big city but Chawkbazar did not lose its old heritage.

Professor AKM Shahnawaz of Jahangirnagar University stated that along with the economy, the important places of social and cultural space were at Chawkbazar. During the British and Pakistan rules or even after the establishment of Bangladesh, there was no change in it.

According to the statistics of 2001, around 80 thousand people live in every square kilometre. Alongside, almost every building has a chemical factory, warehouse or any other type of business. The risk of fire within a workplace needs to be constantly assessed and managed. One of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of fire is to educate staff and promote fire safety awareness. Responsible persons and business owners can effectively and efficiently educate their employees to reduce the risk of workplace fires and potential injuries. Needless to say, it is not a replacement for official fire risk assessments but it does cause employees to think about everyday fire risks.

Promoting fire safety within the workplace is primarily about education. Imparting training to staffs on the basic knowledge of fire and fire triangle is the foundation for understanding the rest of fire safety and procedures. Employees should be able to understand thoroughly how removing one aspect can extinguish the fire. Again, employees should be able to identify potential sources for each point of the fire triangle within their business establishments.

Employees should be trained to understand and identify potential sources of heat or ignition. This could be machinery that gets hot, electronics and plug sockets, through to sources of friction and even light bulbs. Staff should also understand and be able to identify sources of fuel for a potential fire, such as stacks of paper, waste materials, oils and plastics. Understanding common risk assessment failures and being open and transparent about previous and current fire risk assessments is an important method of allowing employees to see the dangers within their own workplace and environment.

Following the above steps, it’s possible for employees to become focused on what might cause a fire and disregard some of the wider aspects of fire safety and awareness. A complete approach to fire safety awareness in the workplace involves employees understanding that it’s more than just ‘what might cause a fire’. It involves looking towards the potential future and understanding what might cause harm in the event of a fire. This could be anything that might inhibit proper procedures during a fire, such as blocked fire escapes, misplaced or damaged fire extinguishers, as well as being aware of the people most at risk during a fire. However, this usually involves a simple training routine to ensure that all employees understand escape routes.

Employees should also be aware of the position of fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, alarms, evacuation chairs and fire meeting points. Correct fire safety awareness training is one of the most important ways of ensuring that your business and employees can prevent fire and stay safe in the unfortunate event of a fire. Employees can learn through fire safety learning materials at their own pace in their own environment.

In terms of increasing awareness about safety in home by installing smoke alarms on every level of home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas it is possible.

Testing smoke alarms every month, discussing with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year; if a fire occurs at home, GETTING OUT, STAYING OUT and CALLING FOR HELP, never going back inside for anything or anyone can reduce the amount of risk which can take place.

Apart from all these steps, it is high time that we should start 'National Fire Safety Campaign' in modern conceptual perspective and follow the same round the year through various programmes under government concerns.

The writer is a freelancer and she can be reached at

ayshiwadia@gmail.com

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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