The Cost of Neglecting Fire Safety.

fire service - fire safetyWith the economy only just starting on the recovery after a hard hitting recession it is easy to see why many employers are looking to lower costs in every way that they can. But there is one area where corner cutting and price watching may not be the wisest route. – Fire safety.

You may wonder what harm can will it do to have a few less fire extinguishers than what is recommended, or to disregard the necessary dry riser inspection regime. Maybe you feel that you just don’t have the time to complete a risk-assessment on your premises, or put an evacuation plan in place.

Looking over the other side of the world can show you the true cost of failing to have suitable equipment or plans in place in the event of fire. – The cost of human life.

In June 2013 a news story from the Jilin province in China was able to show exactly what can happen in the event of a workplace fire. 119 people died after a fire in a poultry slaughterhouse, making it the worst factory blaze in living memory in China.

Whilst the death toll in itself may shock you, what is even more distressing about this event is that the loss of life could have been avoided, or at least lessened with the proper safety precautions in place.

This is not the first time that a large fire has been seen in China, in fact in 2011 alone there were more than 125,400 fire related accidents throughout the country and those accidents killed more than 1,100 people. – A shocking statistic.

With this in mind the government in China have worked tirelessly to create thousands of work place safety regulations, all of which cover not only serious situations, but also some more common place injuries and issues that can arise in working life.

Whilst the statistics on fire related deaths may not seem positive it is a step in the right direction, with the death toll from accidents at work significantly lower.

Unfortunately, even though these regulations have been implemented across the country, there are still some local authorities that do not adhere to the guidelines, often putting local economy and profit ahead of safety.

Looking back at the Jilin fire, the lack of training seen in the workers who were trying to escape was evident. It has been stated that an explosion was heard, and this led to many of the workers panicking and attempting to reach the exits as swiftly as possible, causing a crush effect around the doors.

Upon reaching the exits, many of the already panicked people found them to be locked, in fact it has been said by many survivors of the fire that the doors were often locked, and that there was perhaps only one door open, with even the front gate and being secured.

Another problem faced by those attempting to rescue the trapped workers was the interior design of the building. Many factories in China are not made with safety in mind, featuring small exits and narrow corridors. These flaws in design left the fire fighters and rescue teams battling to even gain access.

This fire has highlighted that in many of the rural areas of China, where factories and warehouses such as this one can be found, the rules associated with fire protection are not being adhered too. But what can be done to ensure that such a tragic incident does not happen again?

Many are asking for the laws to be re-assessed and perhaps even stricter and firmer punishments handed out to those employers who fail to meet the regulations. But is this likely to be implemented? – Only time will tell.

One thing that can be taken from this incident, is that, whilst improvements have been made, there is still a large amount of work that needs to be undertaken in China, and many other areas of the world that do not recognise fire safety and the important part in plays in preventing deaths.

Looking at our own shores, the death toll from fire related deaths in the UK is significantly lower than that in China however this is not a reason to pay less attention to fire safety. It is important that we continue to recognise the importance of having the right equipment, planning for any eventuality, delivering the right training, and generally being prepared for a fire in the workplace, or even at home.

After all, you no-one wants to end up as just another statistic.