7 Habits of Effective Fire Management

You might be familiar with the iconic bestseller, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The principles Covey outlines are universal and stand the test of time.  Since it worked for him, I’ll jump on board with my own “7.” Safety managers (and their team members) can lean on certain fundamentals, or “habits,” in the name of effective fire safety management. 

Here they are: 

  1. Plan to succeed:  Proactive safety managers know that a plan can mean the difference between a disaster and a good day. A Fire Prevention Plan provides the necessary roadmap to keep fuels and ignition sources under control – and separated from each other. An Emergency Action Plan is an essential resource to prepare your response.  Fail to plan – plan to fail!
  2. Train to your plans: Training is the only effective way to carry out your plan. The details of your plans should become a culture of preventing and responding to fires. You shouldn’t rely on the paper version of your plan to prevent fires or respond.  You may need to reach for the Emergency Action Plan further into a crisis, but prevention and immediate fire response should come from muscle memory. 
  3. Maintain equipment intended for fire response: A Fire Prevention Plan should include guidelines for maintaining fire protection equipment. That means inspecting, testing and maintaining your alarm system, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, hoses and water trucks.
  4. Audit your Fire Prevention Plan: You have decided how to prevent fires and who is responsible. Taking inventory of your plan assures you are meeting your goals.
  5. Engage employees:  Employees have to know what to do, but more importantly WHY. They have to have a firm grasp of the fire science behind how fires start and spread.  This will make them active participants in the fire safety process and more likely to comply. If management addresses issues without employee engagement, relapse will no doubt reoccur.  Employees are key to every step forward.
  6. Improve continuously: You won’t get there overnight but a little focus, one step forward or just a few minutes every day, can get you to a more fire-safe work environment.  I believe attempting to address all of your concerns at once can result in burn-out and failure.  Consistent forward progress, will get you further in the long term.
  7. See your workplace through the eyes of a Fire Chief.  I wish you could see hazards the way I do.  I don’t see code violations and compliance issues.  I see the devastating potential outcome of each hazard.  Recognize the disastrous outcomes and the hazards will jump right out at you.

Practice these 7 habits regularly and you will see the benefits develop over time. Also, please don’t tell Stephen Covey I stole his idea.

As always, let me know how I might help in any way.

In safety,


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