Safety in Public Buildings

February 27, 2017 10:19 AM
Every day, millions of people wake up, go to work or school, and take part in social events. But every so often the unexpected happens: an earthquake, a fire, a chemical spill, an act of terrorism or some other disaster. Routines change drastically, and people are suddenly aware of how fragile their lives and routines can be. Each disaster can have lasting effects — people may be seriously injured or killed, and devastating and costly property damage can occur. People entering any public assembly building need to be prepared in case of an emergency.


"We urge people to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves when they’re in public buildings like malls, theatres, entertainment arenas and restaurants. This is particularly important during the holiday season, when these types of places are often very crowded," said Jim Pauley, NFPA’s president and CEO.


Pauley says that most people don’t consider fire a significant risk; that complacency is one of the greatest dangers when it comes to fire safety. "No one ever thinks it will happen to them – until it does," said Pauley. "We hope these tragic incidents remind people that fires can and do happen, and that they need to be prepared in the event of one."


The Galesburg Fire Department wants to share these tips offered by NFPA: 

Fire Safety Tips for entering and spending time in public buildings:

Before you enter:

Take a good look. Does the building appear to be in a condition that makes you feel safe? Is the main entrance wide and does it open outward to allow easy exit? Is the outside area clear of materials stored against the building or blocking exits?


Have a communication plan

Identify a relative or friend to contact in case you are separated from family or friends in an emergency.


Plan a meeting place

Pick a meeting place outside to meet family or friends with whom you are attending the function. If there is an emergency, be sure to meet them there.


When you enter:

Locate exits immediately

When you enter a building, make sure to identify all available exits. Some exits may be in front and some in back of you. Be prepared to use your closest exit. You may not be able to use the main exit. Often, out of habit, people return to the exit they entered through which may not be the best or safest exit to use. Have an exit strategy.


Check for clear exit paths

Make sure aisles are wide enough and not obstructed by chairs or furniture. Check to make sure your exit door is not blocked or chained. If there are not at least two exits or exit paths are blocked, report the violation to management and leave the building if it is not immediately addressed. Call the local fire marshal to register a complaint.


Do you feel safe?

Does the building appear to be overcrowded? Are there fire sources such as candles burning, cigarettes or cigars burning, pyrotechnics, or other heat sources that may make you feel unsafe? Are there safety systems in place such as alternative exits, sprinklers, and smoke alarms? Ask the management for clarification about your concerns. If you do not feel safe in the building, leave immediately.


During an emergency:

React immediately

If an alarm sounds, you see smoke or fire, or other unusual disturbance, immediately exit the building in an orderly fashion.


Get out, stay out!

Once you have escaped, stay out. Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. Let trained firefighters conduct rescue operations.

For more information please visit NFPA’s website for a wealth of information and statistics on fatal single-building fires that have occurred in the U.S. or contact the Galesburg Fire Department at 309/345-3757.



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