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The Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that explosions and fires were responsible for about 3 percent of workplace fatalities in the United States. Uncontrolled fires impose significant impacts on organizations every year by causing damage to property, loss of life, injury and lost trust in customers (National Fire Prevention Association 125). As a result, setting up a fire prevention and preparedness plan can play a significant role in helping the organization to evade injuries and deaths on employees, property damages and potential monetary and legal responsibilities that may be imposed on the organization. The underlying argument is that a fire prevention plan helps in ensuring that the facility and employees are prepared in the event of a fire occurrence. Thus, performing a fire prevention audit periodically plays an integral role in ensuring that the organization constantly improves its preventive and preparedness measures in the event of a fire. Cote (32) considers fire safety audit as an effective tool for evaluating the safety standards within an organization; this is because a fire safety audit helps the organization to spot the potential areas for improvement and develop an action plan (Dunlap 154). This report conducts a fire safety audit on the TH#1 Building in New York and makes appropriate recommendations aimed at improving the fire safety standards of the building.
There are a number of regulatory requirements and statues associated with enhancing fire safety in the United States. The most fundamental regulatory requirement is the Fire Prevention Code, which refers to a model code implemented by the local jurisdiction and subject to enforcement by the fire prevention officers of the local fire departments (National Fire Prevention Association 147). The Fire Prevention Code establishes the minimum requirements needed to deter explosion and fire hazards stemming from the use, handling or storage of dangerous materials, or other hazardous conditions. The primary aim of the Fire Prevention Code is to prevent fires and ensuring that the fire protection equipment are inspected and maintained regularly in order to achieve optimal fire protection.
In this case, the specific regulatory compliance statue and regulatory requirements needed is the Compliance Policy for Emergency Action Plans and Fire Prevention Plans developed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which comprises of an Emergency Action Plan and Fire Prevention Plan. The goal of the Emergency Action Plan is to organize and facilitate employee and employer actions during cases of workplace emergencies (Occupational Safety and Health Administration 205). The components of this plan should include the escape procedures and routes, procedures for employees remaining to operate the critical plant operations prior to their evacuation, procedures needed to account for all staff after the completion of the evacuation, medical and rescue duties, and methods used for reporting emergencies. The Fire Prevention Plan has the primary purpose of ensuring that there is advance planning for emergencies.
The current dismal state of fire safety standards in residential unit-TH#1 in New York State can be attributed to the lack of periodic fire prevention audit, which implies that the senior management and the occupants failed to spot any hazardous conditions in the building. In addition, it is evident from the fire prevention audit that no modifications and alterations have been made to the residential unit since the last inspection. As a result, the senior management has not made any substantial improvements regarding the safety standards in the building because fire prevention audits are not performed regularly. Perhaps, the senior management should take into consideration the significance of conducting fire prevention audits on a regular basis; this would be instrumental in helping the management to improve the safety standards of the building (National Fire Prevention Association).
Based on the findings of the fire prevention audit, it is apparent that the management did not conduct any training on the residents with respect to how to respond to emergency situations; there is manually used for alarm and fire detection system; the building as a Carbon Monoxide alarm although it has not been inspected and tested for more than six months; no fire extinguishers are placed inside the residential unit; periodical inspection of the alarm and fire detection systems have been performed for a long time; and the sprinkler system has not been tested and inspected for more than a year. It is apparent that the main problem, in this case, stems from the Senior Management’s reluctance to undertake period testing and inspection on the fire safety systems within the building. In addition, there are a number of violations of the required safety standards. Overall, it is apparent that the states of fire preparedness and prevention measures are extremely dismal. In the event of fire in the building, it is highly likely that most residents will not survive owing to the hazardous conditions and poor emergency response skills of residents.
The proposed state seeks to enhance the resident’s capacity with regard to fire preparedness and prevention and enhance technical risk control measures of the residential unit. In addition, the proposed state should be characterized by periodic fire prevention audits aimed at identifying potential hazardous conditions in the building that are likely to hamper fire prevention and preparedness efforts by the residents. Therefore, the proposed state seeks to fill the gaps identified with respect to fire safety.
The implementation plan seeks to address the gaps identified in the fire prevention audit as regards the fire safety of the building. The first action plan is to develop a fire emergency evacuation plan, which outlines the responsibilities of the residents during a fire emergency. Developing a fire evacuation plan will outline the steps on how and when to respond to an emergency and the path of egress. Residents that require special attention and needs will be taken into consideration when developing the fire emergency evacuation plan. Secondary means of escape are also essential to be incorporated in the fire emergency evacuation plan (Craighead 236).
The second action plan to address the identified gaps is to train the residents on how to deal with fire emergency situations. The National Fire Prevention Agency and OSHA require that occupants be trained on an annual basis on how to respond to emergencies. Every occupant must be received the needed training and be informed on the update regulations (International Association of Fire Chiefs and National Fire Protection Association 280).
The third action plan is to set up preventive maintenance and proper housekeeping techniques. Preventive maintenance entails contracting a certified and licensed fire Prevention firm that is responsible for quality inspections, performing safety tests and repairs on the equipments used for fire protection. The frequencies for inspection will draw upon the guidelines as per the NFPA code and the Fire Prevention Code of the Local Authority. Proper housekeeping techniques entail ensuring that the residential unit is clear of any potential fire hazards such as immediate cleaning up of flammable materials and chemical spills.
The fourth action plan will entail setting up a fire emergency response team, which will comprise of people who are educated and trained regarding the fire emergency plan procedures and enforcing fire prevention and safety standards throughout the residential unit. The fire emergency response team should also assist others in the event of an emergency (Cahill and Kane 145).
From the results of the fire prevention audit, it is apparent that the underlying problem is related to lack of periodic testing and inspections on the residential unit. The Senior Management of the residential unit should consider performing fire prevention audits on a regular basis in order to spot any fire safety hazards in the building. The suggested action plans includes developing a fire emergency evacuation plan, training the residents to on how to respond to fire incidents, setting up preventive maintenance and proper housekeeping techniques, and setting up a fire emergency response team.
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