The sudden arrival of COVID-19 caught the entire world by surprise. This coronavirus shares 96% of it’s genetic code of the SARS pandemic of 2002-2003 that killed 779 people worldwide. So what does this have to do with fire safety and prevention? A great deal, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1600 is the standard that addresses continuity, emergency and crisis management. Hazards such as fire or explosion, natural disasters, terrorism, pandemic disease and many others all need to be assessed. Unlike fire where property loss is often evident, a pandemic emergency shares the impact of casualties, business interruption, financial loss and possible litigation.
Assumptions used in preparation of plans, especially those regarding hazard identification, risk assessment, analysis of potential impacts, and the availability and capability of resources, should be identified and validated during the planning process. All personnel should have the phone number of their fire protection company in the case of emergencies such as discharge of the sprinkler system or a fire alarm. Contacts should be up to date with the fire safety company hired to monitor a facility’s fire alarm system.
Questions to Ask Yourself
What does the diagram of your team’s incident command look like? What protocols do you have in place in your plan that prevents the spread of disease? How do you handle quarantine of infected individuals? What protocols are in place for disinfection of common areas? What if you can’t safely evacuate individuals like in the case of hospitals, assisted living facilities and correctional facilities?
While there are many other questions to be considered depending on your particular facility, documentation such as checklists, emergency action guides, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) should identify emergency assignments, responsibilities, and emergency duty locations.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is already upon us, the lessons learned from this worldwide crisis can assist us all to be better prepared in the future to mitigate risk, loss of life and property. Fire & Life Safety America (FLSA) is here to assist you by maintaining your fire, sprinkler and suppression systems with regular testing & inspection of these systems to help reduce the risks that affect your business.