Fire: No Time to Wait
June 4, 2008 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
It’s not uncommon to see people fighting a fire waiting to take action until they know where a fire is, or waiting to act until they have more information than just the sound and sight of a fire alarm. The natural human reaction is to wait. But in a fire, seconds count.
Due to the greater use of synthetic materials, which can burn hotter and faster than non-synthetics, safe evacuation times have been greatly reduced. For example, 30 years ago, if a home caught on fire, occupants had about 15 minutes to get out safely. Now they have at most four minutes. A similar trend exists in commercial facilities.
The natural hesitation to act in the face of fire and the greatly decreased window for evacuation underlines the need for a robust fire safety training program. Having several fire drills a year and continually keeping fire safety in the minds of occupants will help them act appropriately and quickly when there’s no time to hesitate.