3 Fire Safety Tips For Retail Businesses

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3 Fire Safety Tips For Retail Businesses

Running a retail store is no piece of cake. Owners have a lot to deal with, from hiring a strong team to keeping track of inventory. Retail owners go to great lengths to improve customer experience, but they often overlook their employees’ and customers’ safety. 

In the retail environment, fire risk is high. Just recently, deadly explosions were reported at a retail vape shop in the Detroit area. A firefighter was injured, and a 19-year-old man was killed in the incident. In other news, a retail business fire resulted in the temporary closure of Kirkwood Highway and Limestone Road. 

Sadly, there is no way to fire-proof your business. However, several preventative measures can help you safeguard your retail establishment from the threat of fire. We’ll discuss some of them here: 

#1 Draft and Implement a Comprehensive Fire Escape Plan

Every business must have a fire escape plan, and retail stores are no exception. You must prioritize drafting it. 

A thorough understanding of the layout of your retail store is required. This involves identifying entry and exit points, including windows, doors, and emergency exits. This will help you develop an effective escape strategy. 

Create a clear plan of the layout, emphasizing escape routes. Make sure to display the escape plan throughout the establishment. Also, make sure your employees are aware of it so that they will know what to do in the event of a blaze. 

Don’t forget about your disabled employees when drafting an escape plan. Be sure to include features like handrails, ramps, wider doors, and proper signage so that everyone, including people with mobility issues, can evacuate the premises with ease. 

Conduct fire drills regularly to ensure your employees are familiar with evacuation procedures. This will also help you spot bottlenecks in the evacuation routes, giving you a chance to fine-tune the plan. 

#2 Invest in the Right Fire Extinguishing Equipment

A fire extinguisher is an indispensable piece of safety equipment for every business. Retail stores are no exception. You must, therefore, purchase them in abundance. 

Fire extinguishers are available in different types. Each is suitable for different types of blazes. 

Water-based extinguishers douse blazes involving Class A—solid combustibles such as textiles and paper—excellently. 

Water mist extinguishers and ABC powder are used to put out Class A, Class B (flammable liquids), and Class C (flammable gasses) fires. Some water mist extinguishers can even extinguish Class F fires, i.e., those involving cooking oil. Aqueous film-forming foam, or AFFF, is also effective in dousing Class A and Class B fires. These are even used by civilian and military firefighters. 

To choose the right type, determine the type of blaze that may occur in your retail establishment. Conducting a thorough assessment of your store will help you do that. 

Take, for example, the risk of Class A and Class B fires are high in your premises. In that case, you can go for water mist extinguishers, ABC powder, or AFFF. While AFFF is a popular choice for putting out Class A and B fires, we advise against it. That is because many military and civilian firefighters developed cancer due to exposure to it. 

The Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council has identified per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in AFFF. Studies link these man-made chemicals with cancer. 

Elevated levels of PFAS have been detected in firefighters’ blood serum. A study published in July 2023 links the chemical with testicular cancer—the most frequently diagnosed cancer among U.S. active-duty service members. This finding lends credence to the ongoing AFFF lawsuits from military veterans, alleging that exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam made them sick. 

Multiple firefighting foam manufacturers, upward of 20, have been sued in the AFFF lawsuit, notes TorHoerman Law. DuPont, 3M, ChemDesign Inc., ChemDesign Inc., and Chemours, to name a few, are defendants named in the lawsuit. 

Besides firefighters, individuals who suffered from AFFF exposure through contaminated water have filed lawsuits. While the exact amount is hard to predict, according to the latest AFFF lawsuit update, settlement amounts can be between $40,000 to $300,000. 

Therefore, avoid going for AFFF. Instead, choose fluorine-free foam, for they extinguish Class A and Class B fires effectively. 

#3 Maintain Electrical Safety

Faulty electrical systems are a common cause of blazes. Conduct regular inspections of all electrical systems, including wiring and appliances. This will help you identify signs of damage, wear, or overload. 

Make sure the power load is distributed evenly to avoid overloading circuits. Consider using surge protectors. They protect electronic equipment from power surges or spikes. You must also train your employees to recognize electrical warning signs, such as sparkling outlets, flickering lights, or burning smells. Doing all this will mitigate the risk of electrical fires, creating a safer environment for both employees and customers. 

To wrap things up, prioritizing fire safety is essential for the well-being of your retail business, employees as well as customers. Besides the tips mentioned above, don’t forget to keep flammable materials securely. Well-maintained HVAC systems also prevent potential fire hazards, so make sure to schedule regular inspections by qualified professionals. 

Remember that preparedness is key when it comes to fire safety. Thus, invest the time and resources required to protect your business from fire-related incidents. 

 





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