The Top Two Myths About Fire Safety At Work – #2 Small Fires Don’t Need Any Outside Help

Last month, we explored the myth that people panic in fires. As promised, here’s the second part of our two-part series. This time we’re looking at a misnomer that can cost property damage at best and lives at worst. This is an important one, so I hope you’ll take the time to read this and share with anyone you think might benefit. 

Myth #2: Small fires don’t require any outside help

Unfortunately, research suggests that the most damaging fires often start small. No matter the size of the blaze, follow safety protocols and call in the professionals for back-up and further damage control. 

It’s not recommended that you attempt to extinguish a fire yourself BEFORE calling the fire department. If you believe you can extinguish the fire with your own hose or extinguisher, please make sure someone has called for help anyway. It’s better to have the fire department en route, as fire can rapidly spread beyond the means of a typical extinguisher. Time is of the essence when it comes to fire response. 

The first five minutes of a fire incident are crucial and will determine the outcome of the fight. If you wait several minutes to call the fire department because you think you can handle a small fire yourself and it turns out you can’t, you have now delayed the arrival of firefighters by that much time and potentially closed the window for them to salvage the property. All that time they could have been on the road while you were trying to deal with it.  I heard one firefighter say it best, “I’d rather show up and find the fire is out than show up to a SH!#-SHOW that could have been prevented.”  

Remember, the fire department takes responsibility for the outcomes as soon as they arrive.  Fires can rekindle and cause further damage.  If they do, do you want to answer for why the fire department wasn’t involved?  Your firefighters also have the tools and technology to prevent further smoke and water damage, mitigating your loss.

It should be mentioned that you won’t get in trouble for calling 911 for an emergency even if the fire turns out to be more manageable than originally expected. If you don’t believe me, ask your fire responders on their next pre-planning visit to your facility.  I’m betting my reputation they will agree.

In short, I recommend you follow the RACE Acronym in any fire emergency.

            R – Remove yourself and all other potential victims

            A – Alert 9-1-1

            C – Confine the fire by closing doors or moving nearby fuel sources

            E – Extinguish, if possible

Remember, safety is everyone’s business. Always ensure you have a method of extinguishing a fire in the incipient stage. In the event of a fire, notify the local fire department immediately.

Don’t forget you don’t have to go this alone — IC Fire Prevention is uniquely qualified to assess facilities for deficiencies and engage employees in the fire prevention process. Give me a call at (260) 241-2256 or send me a message at to learn more. 

In safety, Kenn

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