Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo. --
Here we go again. That annoying sound.
While at work, we have all heard fire alarms sound during fire safety drills, annual system tests, or maybe even from an actual emergency. The sound is unmistakable, loud, and dare I say annoying. It certainly gets your attention and hopefully gets your adrenaline flowing because you need to act fast when you hear it.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to over 3,000 office property fires each year. These fires cause an annual average of four civilian deaths, 44 civilian fire injuries and $112 million in direct property damage.
Fire alarms sound for a reason.
“You should always assume a fire alarm is a real emergency unless you have been advised prior by a competent authority,” said Guy Chastain, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station Fire Department assistant chief for fire prevention. “Sure, it’s possible someone got careless microwaving popcorn in the employee break room, or someone accidentally bumped the fire alarm pull station, but now is not the time to second guess why the alarms are sounding. This is the time to find the closest designated exit and get out.”
NFPA statistics show fires in office properties have fallen 71 percent over the past 30 years, but that is not a reason to get complacent. Any single fire in the workplace can injure you or take your life.
Regardless of where you are or what you are doing when the fire alarm sounds, you should stay alert, get ready to evacuate and do not panic.
“Don’t worry about grabbing valuables or taking time to deal with your computer, because when it comes to life safety, every second counts,” said Chastain. “Your impulse should be to look for an exit sign, and if you’re above the ground floor take the stairs, not the elevator. Get out as soon as possible. Things are replaceable. Your life isn’t.”
Chastain says now is a good time to review your facility’s emergency action plan, including knowing primary and secondary escape routes for the entire building.
Contact your supervisor or facility manager if you need a copy of the plan and verify where your predetermined gathering point is located.
The CMAFS Fire Department is increasing efforts this year to educate everyone on the importance of knowing their facility emergency action plan, practicing it during scheduled fire drills at work and taking appropriate action whenever the building fire alarm sounds.
To learn more about fire safety, visit www.nfpa.org, contact your local fire department, or call the CMAFS Fire Prevention Office at 474-3355.