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How many times have we heard of a tragic fire, given the victims our sympathy and thought ‘that would never happen to me’? I wonder how many of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire had thought ‘that would never happen to me’?

In New Zealand, in a typical year, kitchen fires are the leading cause of home fires. Unattended cooking causes more fires and deaths than any other cause of fire. Smoke alarms have proven that the small investment of one can have huge effects in turning a potentially tragic fire into a small fire with no injuries.

Think of your workplace. If there was a small fire in the kitchen, how many of your team would know where the fire extinguisher was, which was the right one to use and how to use it? Have any of the team had practice in using a fire extinguisher?

There are varying claims of how quickly a fire can double in size – from 30 seconds to 3 minutes – suffice to say time is of the essence! Taking into account the panic that a fire can cause – especially for people who haven’t had any training or awareness of fire safety – the time lapsed can quickly turn a small fire into a huge and tragic event.

In New Zealand we have a very efficient fire service; however, with time being so crucial, if we were to rely entirely on the fire service, without trained staff at work, a small fire would take hold before even the most efficient fire service could arrive.

What would be the impact on your business of a fire? Do you have fire wardens? Do you have a system of knowing exactly who is on site at any given time? Do your staff know the best way out of the building? How many of your staff know how to use the fire extinguisher? Or where they are situated?

We manage other risks with varying degrees of effectiveness, so don’t get into a false sense of security by thinking ‘this won’t happen to me’. For the small cost of fire safety and fire warden training you can go a long way towards managing the fire risk for your business. And saving lives.

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