Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | May 20, 2014

How to Prepare For and React During an Apt Fire

??????????????????????????????Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire that broke out early Monday morning, May 19, at a Memphis-area apartment complex. A woman was reportedly inside the unit where the fire originated. She was treated on the scene for minor smoke inhalation. Smoke inhalation is gross. That’s why I can’t understand how anyone can smoke. Fortunately, most of the damage from this fire was contained to the one where it began — although other units sustained associated water and smoke damage. Would your tenants know how to respond if a similar incident occurred in your high-rise building?

When fires break out in high-rise structures, the potential for loss of high if occupants are untrained and proper fire life safety systems are not utilized. The reasons for this are many, including the fact that fires can burn for extended periods of time before occupants even become aware of the burn. I guess I should be glad my doghouse is relatively small. Smoke and deadly gases from the fire are just as deadly as the fire and are major cause of injury and death during a fire situation. What’s more, the sheer size of tall structures increases the amount of time it takes for firefighters to reach flames.

According to the US Fire Administration (USFA), it is not uncommon for 15 minutes to elapse from the start of a fire to the time when first responders reach the blaze. And a lot of damage can be done in a quarter of an hour. Just look at what cats do when their step out. So the best way to manage high-rise fires is to provide training so occupants will immediately know what to do when they hear an alarm, smell smoke or discover a fire.

Did you know that federal, state, and local laws require annual training for every commercial building occupant? That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, despite this fact, studies show that less than 20% of occupants have ever trained or know what to do in an emergency. That’s a bad thing! That means 80% of your occupants are at risk and could represent a liability to both themselves and you.

We believe that every occupant should have the ability to be trained anytime, at their convenience, as often as they want to learn. We also believe that most dogs can be trained, too. Our mission is to create a safer, more informed occupant who understands their responsibilities and may be capable of helping others.

The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning training system motivates and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your facility. Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES! And that’s always a good thing.

Our fully-integrated system helps building owners and property managers:

  • Manage one site or an entire portfolio
  • All users are in the same system
  • Train occupants, floor wardens & fire safety directors
  • Keep track of user training and testing
  • Monitor building specific Emergency Responder information

Our Fully Automated System provides automatic:

  • Certificates to each user (instantly via email)
  • Annual reminders to each user (per training module)
  • Employee compliance reports to each tenant – quarterly
  • Notifications to local fire departments
  • Creation of real time Special Assistance and Floor Warden lists
  • Notification of updates to Special Assistance list
  • Regular updates to Floor Warden & Fire Safety Director lists
  • Updates and maintenance notifications

Distinct levels of user access:

  • Property Manager: Full rights and access to one or multiple properties. Receive automatic updates & reminders.
  • Fire Department: Online access to confidential FD documents, reports and training records. Automatic emails.
  • Fire Safety Director: Access to Fire Dept. documents & invites and tracks Floor Wardens.
  • Floor Warden: Tracks occupant training per floor
  • Tenant Manager: Add/update/delete/track employees — all reports
  • Occupant/Employee: View training/tests view & print documents. Add & remove themselves from the individuals who need assistance list.
  • Each level is secure and you can update the contents any time.
  • Each user level has its own Resources section.

Property owners/managers and their tenant employers should make sure they train their tenants to calmly and quickly respond to emergency situations including high-rise fires. Here are a few simple fire safety steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property in high rise fires.

Before the Emergency:

  • Don’t lock fire exits or doorways, halls or stairways. Fire doors provide a way out during the fire and slow the spread of fire and smoke. So never prop stairway or other fire doors open.  If your property has locking stairwell egress doors for security reasons, make sure they all automatically unlock upon alarm.
  • Familiarize yourself with your building’s evacuation plan. And know your primary and secondary escape routes. Make sure everyone knows what to do if the fire alarm sounds and where their interior and exterior safe refuge areas are located.
  • Plan and execute frequent drills so escape plans become second nature. You can use your RJWestmore Online Training System to conduct tabletop drills and virtual evacuation route walks using the “Map View” button on your homepage.
  • If you’re in a position of leadership, lead by example. Participate in all drills, set training deadlines that include recognition for compliance. Make participation and creating a safety conscious environment part of your everyday life.
  • Learn to immediately recognize the sound of your building’s fire alarm and post emergency numbers near telephones.

During the Emergency:

  • Remain calm.
  • Don’t assume someone else has called the fire department. It is better to over-report than run the risk of failing to contact emergency personnel. After all, early notification is critical.
  • Before you try to leave the office or living space, feel the door/door knob with the back of your hand.  If the door/door knob feels warm to the touch, do not attempt to open it. Move to the safest secondary escape route and evacuate.
  • If the doorknob is too hot to handle, stay where you are and wait for rescue.
  • Stuff cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape and cover vents to keep smoke out.
  • If you have access to a telephone, call the fire department to explain exactly where you are located. Do this even if you can see can see emergency personnel outside at the scene.
  • Wait at a window and signal for help by waving something bright or with a flashlight, etc.  Anything to attract attention.
  • As a last life safety resort, if possible in your building, open the window, but do not break it, you may need to close the window if smoke rushes in.
  • Once you are sure that emergency responders are aware of your location and need to be rescued, be patient.

If the door/door knob DOES NOT feel warm, carefully open it.

  • If you do attempt to open the door, brace your body against the door while staying low to the floor and slowly open it just a crack. This is the best method for detecting the presence of smoke or fire.
  • If no smoke appears in hallway or stairwells, follow your building’s evacuation plan and move to your safest predetermined alternate escape route.
  • If the building’s fire alarm is not sounding, pull the nearest one while safely and calmly exiting your floor.
  • If you encounter smoke or flames anywhere as you exit the building, stay low to avoid hot smoke and gasses.  If you cannot evacuate, move as far from the fire as possible (closing as many doors as possible between you and fire) and shelter in place.  Stuff the cracks around doorways and vents to block out smoke.  Call 911 and building management/security to let them know your exact location.  If you are near a window DO NOT BREAK THE WINDOW. Wave something to attract attention. Breaking a window as a last resort may draw the smoke and fire closer to you. I guess I should be glad our doghouse doesn’t have any windows.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

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