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Retail Stores Fire Damage Preparedness and Education
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Any time a retail establishment suffers from fire damage, there are problems present on a number of levels, not just the structural damage caused by the fire, but also the damage and loss of product and inventory as well as files and other administrative records. Clearly there is a need for proper fire prevention and education for retail establishments and their employees.
Fire hazards in retail stores are numerous, mainly due to the presence of flammable and combustible materials. Electrical malfunctions and open flames are common causes of retail fire-related problems, along with other unaddressed issues such as unsafe storage of chemical products. It becomes necessary for employers to become proactive in identifying potential fire hazards in their establishment and taking the steps required to cut down on the likelihood of an unexpected blaze.
Every retail store should have a contingency plan in place for dealing with sudden and unexpected fires. There should be an evacuation plan set up with every employee designated a specific area to be responsible fo, and knowing the drill inside and out. Every employee should also be familiar with local emergency numbers and proper information to give to 911 operators in the event of a fire problem.
Exits should be clearly marked and unobstructed. Fatalities occur every year when victims are unable to find or access exits. Such emergency plans are vital in order to reduce the chances for injury or loss of life.
Every retail outlet should be equipped with fire extinguishers and employees trained on how to use them. In many cases they may be the first line of defense against a blaze, at least until the fire department shows up. Fire extinguishing units should be the correct type for given situations, Type A for combustible materials, Type C for electrical fires, and Type ABC for general fires. They should be regularly inspected and kept in good working order with the needle gauge at 12:00 and the nozzle in good shape and free of obstructions. Sprinkler systems are also highly recommended and should be inspected at least once a year.
Of course, one of the major fire prevention methods for any retail establishment is to make sure the location is kept free and clear of clutter and waste material. The messier a store is, the greater the potential for fire hazards. All flammable or combustible and flammable storage materials should be properly stored and handled with care. Schedules should be coordinated to allow for proper maintenance of the establishment to keep the environment safe and as fireproof as possible.
The local fire department or water restoration company can be of invaluable assistance in assembling a working fire prevention plan for any given retail establishment.
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