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Safety Tips for Businesses
Practice Your Fire Drills
Fires can happen anywhere. A fire in a large building creates an enormous risk to everyone. Other reasons for evacuating buildings include natural gas leaks, hazardous material spills and storms.

Knowing what to do is the key to surviving a fire emergency. Conducting regular fire drills will give you the knowledge and confidence to escape a fire safely.

There are two steps for a good evacuation program - planning and practice.

Help Keep Your Home or Business Storage Safe
Help keep your home and buildings safe  by following these simple safety tips:

  • If your business or your home is equipped with a sprinkler system keep a minimum clearance of 18 inches from the bottom of the sprinkler head. 
  • Keep storage of any materials out of stairways or from obstructing the width of the path of an exit passageway.
  • Provide a minimum clearance of 36 inches of storage materials from around electrical panels and transformers.

Evacuation Plans for Businesses

Every workplace or business establishment must have an evacuation plan. Keep in mind, however, that even the most perfect plan will be useless if only the person who made it knows about it. Go through the evacuation plan and make sure that every staff member and employee is knowledgeable about what to do.

The plan should include which exits to use, and employees should be aware of the number of steps required to reach the exit in case there are visibility problems. Every establishment should have at least two exits in case one of them is blocked.

If the fire alarm rings, never ignore it. Use the evacuation plan and strictly follow it. Post the evacuation plan and perform fire drills to ensure you and your staff are experts at it.

Make the necessary provisions for any disabled workers and take into account how you will help any visitors present during a fire but unfamiliar with your plan.

Restaurants: Kitchen Safety

The kitchen is one of the most dangerous rooms. It contains many hazards that can cause burns and unintentional fires.  It's important to recognize proper heating and cooking equipment functions. Taking steps to employees and the public from these cooking hazards can prevent damaging fires, injuries and loss of life.   

Please follow these simple safety tips:

  • Always make sure the oven and stove top is clean. If not, clean them thoroughly and safely. Residue grease and food can catch fire.
  • When cooking keep pot handles turned inward, away from the edge of the stove and don't wear long, loose sleeves that can hang over the stove while cooking.    An electric burner coil can reach a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This can ignite clothing even after the coil has been turned off.  Flammable fabrics, such as towels, dish rags or curtains can be ignited merely by being used or stored near a gas or electric range.
  • If a grease fire erupts in a pan on top of the stove, quickly and carefully cover the pan with a lid or a larger pan. Never use water. If the fire is in the oven, turn the controls off and close the door tightly. If you suspect there may be fire still smoldering somewhere in the cabinets or the woodwork after such an experience, please don't hesitate Call 9-1-1 and let us verify that the fire is out and the building is safe.

By practicing these simply kitchen safety tips can keep your business safer.

Electrical Safety
Electricity, the silent servant, can become a silent assassin.

  • It is better not to use extension cords. If you feel you must use one, make sure that it is not frayed or worn. Do not run it under a rug or twist it around a nail or hook.
  • Never overload a socket. In particular, the use of "octopus" outlets, outlet extensions that accommodate several plugs, is strongly discouraged.
  • Do not use light bulb wattage which is too high for the fixture. Look for the label inside each fixture which tells the maximum wattage.
  • Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, loose wires, or loose lighting fixtures. Sparking means that you've waited too long.
  • If a circuit breaker trips or a fuse blows frequently, immediately cut down on the number of appliances on that line.
  • Be sure all electrical equipment bears the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.
  • Overloaded electrical systems invite fire. Watch for these overload signals: dimming lights when an appliance goes on, a shrinking TV picture, slow heating appliances, or fuses blowing frequently. Call a qualified electrician to get expert help.

Safety Checklist for Businesses

As a business owner, you bear the responsibility of the safety of your employees. This requires you to ensure that your workplace and working conditions are as safe as possible. An employee injury can result in an expensive worker's compensation claim or even a lawsuit. A safety checklist, as well as a designated safety officer in your workplace, can go a long way toward maximizing workplace safety.

A checklist can help make your workplace safer.


Keep your floors clear of any debris that could cause tripping. If your business involves working with fluids, such as a car repair shop, immediately mop up spills or leaks.


Staircases leading to storage areas can become a resting place for items like boxes of paper or tools. Check your staircases each day and clear them of any tripping hazards. Also, ensure stairways provide adequate lighting.


Proper lighting in office areas can help prevent eyestrain for computer workers. Outdoor lighting can create a safer journey from workplace to parking lot for your employees.


If you operate an industrial workplace, proper footwear is essential. If necessary, require your workers to wear steel-toed boots or shoes.

Emergency Procedures

Train your employees on emergency procedures such as what to do in case of a fire or worker injury. Clearly mark all exits and have any emergency contact numbers within plain sight.

First-Aid Kits

Supply your work area with a fully stocked first-aid kit. Even in office areas, workers can suffer cuts or fall over boxes or chairs.

Safety Equipment

Be sure that you have adequate supplies of necessary safety clothing and equipment. Depending on the nature of your workplace, this may include goggles, hard hats, gloves, footwear or protective outerwear.


An unclean workplace can also pose a health and safety hazard. Be sure that all restrooms are cleaned at least once a day, and require employees to clean up after themselves in lunchrooms or cafeterias. Look for possible signs of rodent infestation such as shiny droppings or gnawed food packages.

Elevated Surfaces

Elevated surfaces can present a tripping hazard. Mark any elevated areas with warning signs.

Machines and Power Tools

Be sure that all machines and power tools are kept in proper working order and inspect them regularly. Also, be certain that all employees are properly trained to use equipment before allowing them to work alone.

If Fire Breaks Out
If a fire starts in your business, you must be able to respond.  You cannot assume that everyone will know what to do unless you have planned for it.

Be sure and create a safe escape plan and practice it monthly.  Include these safety tips:

  • Identify two exits from each room.
  • Choose a meeting place a short distance outside of your business.
  • When a smoke alarm sounds, immediately go to the exits and do not stop to investigate why the alarm sounded or to take processions.
  • Crawl 12-24 inches above the ground to stay under the smoke and move quickly.
  • Test doors for heat using the back of your hand.  If you feel heat; do not open the door and use your backup exit.
  • If the door feels cool, open it slowly and check for smoke and flames.  If you do not see any smoke and flames; go to your primary exit and get out of the building.  If you do see smoke and flames, close door and use the backup exit.
  • Go directly to the take safe meeting place outside of your building.  Once you are outside never go back inside for any reason!
  • An employee should should Dial 9-1-1.

Fire Safety Starts with Prevention
Staying fire safe starts before a fire starts, so keep your business fire safe by practicing these guidelines:

  • Make sure all cigarettes or other smoking materials are completely extinguished
  • Inspect and replace all worn, frayed or broken electrical cords.
  • Recylce old newspapers, magazines and other combustibles and store them in a neat and orderly fashion away from heat sources.
  • Make sure all flammable liquids are stored properly and far away from heat sources.
  • Keep hallways, exits and stairs unobstructed and free of clutter.
  • Repair any broken emergency lights, alarms or sprinbkler-type fixtures immediately.

You can do your part in keeping your employees and the public safe by practicing these simple guidelines.  Stay safe and practice fire safety every day!

Fire Escape Planning for Businesses

Fire exits are designed to provide continuous and unobstructed means of exiting out of a building. An exiting system in any building may include intervening aisles, doors, doorways, gates, corridors, exterior exit balconies, ramps, stairways, smoke proof enclosures, horizontal exits, exit passageways, exit courts and yards. Required exit doors must not be locked when a building is occupied. Escape routes should be posted at work stations and updated when changes are made. Remind personnel to observe the best escape route from their location. A fire drill/walk through is also a good idea and should be done on a regular basis (once per year minimum).

How to Conduct a Safety Meeting for Your Business

Safety meetings contain important information on equipment safety, general workplace safety, dealing with violence and harassment in the workplace, and how every employee can contribute to company safety. An efficient safety meeting is the best way to get information to all employees. There are steps a manager needs to follow to conduct a safety meeting that will encourage employees to take responsibility for workplace conduct and safety.

Step 1

Circulate the agenda to the upcoming safety meeting at least two weeks before the meeting. Encourage meeting attendees to review the material in the agenda and come prepared with questions.

Step 2

Ensure that the materials for the meeting are in place and that the meeting starts on time. It can be frustrating to busy employees and managers to have to wait for a safety meeting to start. Include in the memo announcing the meeting that it will start on time.

Step 3

Outline the safety topic to be covered at the beginning of the meeting, and include any visual presentation material in the meeting package when the meeting starts. It can be easier for attendees to comprehend the material if it is accompanied by a companion presentation of graphics and pertinent information.

Step 4

Use the equipment being discussed in a hands-on demonstration of the safety techniques. Allow each attendee to use the equipment and become familiar with the techniques being taught. If the safety topic is about a large piece of equipment or a particular part of the manufacturing facility, then have the meeting onsite so that attendees can see the topic being discussed. Safety topics are easier for people to understand when they can see and interact with the topics.

Step 5

Introduce each attendee with the company's official safety policy at the end of the meeting, along with any state or federal guidelines that need to be included. Allow for questions at the end of the presentation.

Emergency Exits
Access-controlled egress doors.
  • Loss of power shall be arranged to unlock door.
  • Activation of buildings fire alarm shall unlock door.
  • Manual unlocking device (pull station) shall unlock door.
  • Path or egress shall have 36 inches of clearance to emergency exits.
  • Door must swing in the direction of the path of egress.

Means of Egress
Exit Sign Illumination.
  • Signs must be illuminated internally and externally.
  • Signs must remain illuminated for a minimum of 90 minutes if power fails.
  • Signs must be visible and not blocked.

Illumination of Path of Egress.
Illumination under emergency power shall be provided to the following areas not less than 1 foot candle at the floor level.
  • Exit access corridors, passageways and aisles.
  • Exterior egress components.
  • All interior exit discharge components.
  • Exterior exit discharge immediately adjacent to exit discharge.

Fire Exits.
  • The path of egress shall not be interrupted by any building component.
  • Objects shall not be placed in the required path of egress.
  • The required capacity of the means of egress shall not be diminished along the path of egress travel.

Sprinkler System
Monitoring and Alarms.
  • All valves and switches shall be electronically supervised.
  • All alarms from sprinkler system shall activate all other alarm systems.
  • Exterior water flow bell or strobe shall be installed and activated on any flow of the system.

Sprinkler Clearance.
  • Minimum of 18 inches clearance from bottom of sprinkler head or 21 inches from ceiling.
  • Minimum of 4 inches from any fixture or outlet mounted to same surface.

Standpipe Systems
Hose and Connections.
  • Hose connections for Class I and II systems shall be install with 2 1/2 inch (65 mm) storz couplings.
  • Mounting shall allow at least 18 inches clearance from the coupling to any surface.
  • As an amendment to section 905.3.5.1 of the International Fire Code; Upper Merion Township does not want hose or a nozzle provided.

Address Indentification
Identification of Address.
  • Numbers shall be approved by the municipality.
  • Numbers shall be visible from the street.
  • Minimum size of 4 inches with a contrasting background.
  • Numbers shall be arabic numerals or alphabet letters.

If buildings has multiple tenants, suite or apartment numbers shall be located on each entry door to the occupied space.

Fire Lanes

Posting of Fire Lanes.

  • At the direction of the Fire Marshal, fire lanes shall be posted "No Parking by Order of the Fire Marshal".
  • Property Owners shall post No Parking signs within 30 days of being notified by the Fire Marshal.
  • It shall be unlawful to park or to allow a vehicle to remain parked within a fire lane if the vehicle is in such proximity to a fire hydrant, standpipe connector, sprinkler system or any other Fire Department connection to hinder Fire Department operations during an emergency.

  • Property owner shall be responsible to keep signs clean and legible conditions at all times and be replaced or repaired when necessary to  provide adequate visibility.

Fire Apparatus Access Roads.

  • Shall have an unobstructed width of not less than 20 feet.
  • Shall have an unobstructed height of not less than 13 feet 6 inches.

Winter Holiday Safety Tips for Merchants
Every year at about this time, we ask that you take the time to assure that fire safety is taken into consideration while you get ready and experience the Holiday Shopping Season.  As such, we would like to remind you of a number of issues of which you need to be aware:

Means of Egress - the exit ways from your space

Section 605 of the Fire Prevention Code requires" Aisles, passageways or stairways in any structure shall not be obstructed with tables, showcases, Christmas trees, vending machines or other obstructions."  It would be a good idea to mark the exit passageways from the display areas to the exits with floor paint or other markings; this makes it easy for staff to understand the restrictions on storage.

The Code goes on to state "Display boards, signs, coat racks and any other moveable equipment that obstructs the path of egress travel shall be prohibited.  Draperies and similar hangings shall not obscure an exit."

Section 610 of the Fire Prevention Code requires "All exit signs shall be maintained visible and all illuminated exit signs shall be illuminated at all times the structure is occupied."

Sprinkler Systems

Your fire sprinkler system is your FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE against fires.  It is absolutely imperative that it be maintained properly.  The biggest problem we encounter with the maintenance of such systems is improper storage practices.  Storage is NOT permitted within 18 inches of the level of the sprinkler heads.  For most of you, those with dropped ceilings, this means that storage is not permitted within 22 inches of the ceiling.

Electrical Panels

Each of your stores has at least one electrical distribution panel; regulations require that a 3-foot clearance space be maintained in front of those panels.


The corridors behind your stores are NOT storage areas, for stock or for trash.  Trash must be stored within the store, not blocking exits, until the time designated by mall management.

If you have any questions regarding fire safety, please feel free to call one of us:

  • William Henderson - Fire Inspector 610-205-8559
  • William Daywalt - Deputy Fire Marshal 610-205-8554
  • John Waters - Chief Fire Marshal 610-205-8512

Practice these safety tips during your normal daily activities to ensure your business and the public are safe. 

We wish you a prosperous and safe Holiday Season.