Fire Watch When Not Home

fw1Most of us spend about a third of the day away from our home. That means that we should be aware and on watch for fires when we are out and about.

We many times let our guard down when we are at work or out shopping, assuming that our employer or the store owners are the ones responsible for issues like fires.  First we should always keep our guard up and be alert to what is going on around us.  Second, we should never assume that someone else is taking the responsibility for our safety.

Many employers have fire drills.  One of the companies I worked for was in a three story building.  At one time we had over 1300 employees and contractors. Each floor was separated into zones and each zone had a fire captain.  The fire captain was responsible for insuring everyone in their zone was out of the building in case of a fire or fire drill, this included doing a quick check of the bathrooms.

One day during a drill, we were all evacuating from the building, I did my walk through and found one of the senior vice presidents still in his corner office.  I poked my head in, wearing my little red fire captain hat and carrying my bright orange flag and said, sir everyone must leave.  He made it clear to me he wasn’t leaving for a fire drill.  From there I headed out and on my way out I passed a fireman, they always came in during our drills; it was good practice for the fire department as well.  Anyway, as I passed the fireman, I said, there is a guy in the corner who won’t leave.  The fireman responded “Oh he’ll leave”.  By the time I got outdoors I turned around I saw the Sr. VP walking down the exterior fire escape stairs with the fireman behind him.  A drill is just as important as a real fire, it is practice to get out, everyone is equal during a fire as well as a fire drill.

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If your company does fire drills that’s great.  If you work for an employer who hasn’t had any fire drills maybe you could talk to the boss and volunteer to be the fire captain of your office.  Ask if you can arrange for fire drills and do safety class for the team.

Regardless if your employer does drills or not, the responsibility to get out during a fire is yours.  Don’t wait for them to tell you to leave, if you sense danger, leave, and help other to leave.  Be calm, don’t cause a panic but do what you can to help others get out.

The same holds true if you are in a store, stores have so many people coming and going.  The good news is you seldom hear of a fire in a store. The bad news is, it does happen.  A couple of years ago a small plane crashed into a local grocery store.  Many people were badly burned; some were trampled on during the panic.  Just last week, a teenager set a discount store on fire, the place nearly burned to the ground, for some reason there were no sprinklers or if there were they didn’t work, thank goodness everyone got out unharmed.

When  you are in a store or any other building, always know where the fire exits are. Know where the stairs are, since you don’t want to use an elevator in case of a fire.  Look for multiple ways to exit the building and have a plan in your mind as to how you will exit, play several scenarios out in your mind and plan what you would do. Always be thinking and have an exit strategy.

My point is, always be vigilant and aware of what is going on around you and the status of the building you are in.  Do this for your safety as well as the safety of those around you, if you know what is going on faster than those around you, you can help them to safety as you go to safety.

Be the shepherdess and lead and not part of the sheep that follow.

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