Most fires are preventable.Those responsible for workplaces and other buildings to which the public have access can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviours and procedures. However, before we proceed with this discussion, it is important to understand the general fire safety hazards.
GENERAL FIRE SAFETY HAZARDS
Fires need three things to start - a source of ignition (heat), a source of fuel (something that burns) and oxygen.
Sources of ignition include:
Naked Flames, heaters, lighting, electrical equipment, smokers' materials (cigarettes, matches etc) and anything else that can get very hot or cause sperks.
Sources of fuel include:
Paper, wood, plastic rubber or form, loose packaging materials, waste rubbish furniture among other matrials.
Source of Oxygen is of course the air around us.
KENYA'S LEGISLATION ON FIRE SAFETY
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2007 of the Laws of Kenya, Safety provisions in the case of a fire, section 81.(9), 'Every occupier of a work place shall take effective steps to ensure that all persons employed therein are familiar with the means of escape in case of firem and with the routine to be followed in case of fire'.
Section 81.(1) of the same Law states that, 'In every workplace or workroom there shall be':
ACTION TO BE TAKEN
Employers, building owners and or occupiers must carry out fire safety risk assessments and keep them up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise.
Based on the findings of the assessment, building owners, employers and /or occupiers need to ensure that they provide adequate and appropriate fire safety measures to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
To help prevent fire in the workplace, a risk assessment ought to identify what could cause a fire to start i.e. sources of ignition (heat and/or sperks) and substances that burn and the people who may be at risk.
Once the risks have been identified, appropriate action ought to be taken to control them. Consideration should be given to whether they can be avoided altogether or, if not possible, how they can be reduced and managed. Consideration should also be given to how people will be protected if there is a fire.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER