Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Summer has arrived and many people are eagerly booking campgrounds and organizing weekend-long camping trips out of the city with family and friends. While it’s a great way to enjoy the warmer months and get out of the city, it’s important to be mindful of camping fire safety while enjoying the wilderness.
With that in mind, here are 5 handy camping fire safety tips to remember before you pull out those hotdogs and marshmallows:
1. Be mindful of your surroundings
Staying safe while camping begins well before you light the campfire. When searching for an appropriate fire pit location (if there isn’t a fire pit provided where you’re camping) make sure to remove branches, twigs, leaves, and other flammable materials which may catch fire due to embers escaping from the fire.
Additionally, make sure to set up your tents, chairs, and food and beverage coolers a minimum of 8 to 10 feet away from the fire.
2. Make sure your fire pit is safe
Most campgrounds will have fire pits already set up in designated areas, but if it’s not already ready to go when you arrive, and it’s important to take extra precautions because you don’t know who was using the fire pit before you.
- If there’s no metal ring or encasement for your fire pit, circle the pit with rocks.
- Remove any flammable items away from the fire, including aerosol cans and pressurized containers.
3. Keep water or a fire extinguisher close by
You never know when a large, unexpected gust of wind may sweep through your campground and push the flames in an unexpected direction, or carry the embers farther than you anticipated.
This is why it’s important to keep water and a shovel nearby, because if something catches on fire you can quickly douse it with water and earth to prevent it from growing.
Keeping a fire extinguisher on hand is also a great idea. All newer campers have them. Ensure it's in working condition, and readily available.
4. Mind your fire
It’s easy to get distracted and take your eye off the fire, but whether you’re camping alone or with friends and family, it’s critical to make sure that the fire is always being tended to.
- If you’re camping alone, keep the fire in your line of sight at all times.
- Don’t leave the campsite if your fire is still going, or if you’re camping in a group and have to leave, make sure someone stays to watch it.
- If you’re camping with pets or small children, keep them away from the fire at all times.
5. Extinguish your fires before bed
It can be easy to forget to put out your fire, especially after a long day or night of food and fun, but the last thing you want is to wake up in the middle of the night to a forest fire! When extinguishing your fire make sure to douse it in water or dirt, and to stir it with a shovel to ensure that all of the embers have been adequately coated.
Camping just isn’t the same without a fire, and with a few steps and a watchful eye you can make every camping experience a safe and enjoyable one.
For more information about fire safety, contact a technician from Bison Fire Protection at (204) 237-3473.
If you can make it Burn, We can put it out!
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
With summer in full swing many of our customers, both at the lake and in their own backyards, are enjoying the warm glow of a fire pit. These inexpensive additions can help extend the use of your backyard throughout the cooler months, but it’s important to be vigilant about staying safe because not only could improper use cause a house fire, but it could also cause a grass fire and put anyone close by in danger.
Below are a few tips for staying safe while getting the most out of your fire pit:
Choosing the right position
Whether you’ve purchased a portable fire pit, of if you’re planning to install a permanent one, where you position your fire pit can make a world of difference in how safe it is.
Some things to keep in mind when positioning your fire pit are:
- Never place your fire pit on a wooden deck or directly on the grass.
- Keep your fire pit a minimum of 10ft away from any structure, fence, or neighboring yard.
- Don’t set up your fire pit under a covered porch of low-hanging tree .
- Always install your fire pit on a non-flammable surface, such as a concrete slab or patio stones.
Preparing to use your fire pit
Using your fire pit in a safe manner goes beyond just where you put it; it’s also important to take the appropriate safety steps when preparing to your it, as well.
Some key tips to preparing your fire pit are:
- Clear away any flammable materials from the vicinity of the pit, including sticks, leaves, or pieces of wood.
- Ensure that all vegetation (shrubs, your garden, etc) is at minimum five feet away from your pit.
- A permanent fire pit should be at least six inches deep at the center, and a minimum of two feet across to keep flames contained.
Safely Lighting Your Fire Pit
Now that you’ve chosen the best position for your fire pit and have cleaned up the surrounding area, it’s time to light the fire! Here’s how to do it in a safe manner:
- Check the wind direction (lick your finger and hold it up above your head if you aren’t sure) and remove anything flammable downwind of the fire.
- If it’s too windy, do not light your fire pit. You never know how far a gust of wind may carry the embers!
- Don’t use lighter fluid to light the fire pit; instead, use a commercial fire starter stick with kindling.
- If your fire goes out, don’t use flammable fluids like lighter fluid or gasoline to relight it.
Extinguishing Your Fire Pit
After the fun has ended it’s important to take the right steps to safety extinguish your fire pit. Here’s how:
- Always extinguish with water. Drown the flames and stir with a shovel to make sure it’s fully extinguished.
- Keep a Fire Extinguisher handy
- Safely dispose of the ashes in a metal can - keep them there for a minimum of 2 to 3 days, as ashes can take a while to cool down.
General Fire Pit Tips
- Never leave your fire pit unattended.
- Don’t leave children or pets unattended.
- Limit the amount of fuel or kindling that you put into the fire.
- Don’t burn garbage.
For more information about fire pit safety, and how the technicians at Bison Fire Protection can help keep your home or business safe from fires, give us a call at (204) 237-3473.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Fire safety systems and equipment maintenance, similar to homeowner’s insurance or car insurance, often feel like something that doesn’t have a significant return on investment in the moment.
However, without proper maintenance and testing your fire suppression system may not work in the event of a fire, leaving you facing hundreds or thousands of dollars in damages, and putting yourself and your employees at risk. Poorly-functioning fire safety systems can often mean the difference between a small, localized fire and a catastrophic one that endangers lives.
But how often should you be scheduling maintenance and servicing? Below is a brief overview of how often you should be scheduling appointments with your Bison Fire Protection technician:
Fire Alarm System Maintenance
How often: Annually, unless your building houses flammable materials or performs hazardous operations.
What we check for: Annual inspections generally encompass your entire fire suppression system, which includes:
? Your alarm panel
? Testing communications between the fire department and/or third-party monitoring
? Your backup batteries are fully functioning
? Individual components such as pull stations, smoke detectors, heat detectors, etc.
How often: Annual inspections except for unique, higher-risk circumstances
What we check for:
? That your valves between the water main and sprinkler system are working
? Appropriate air pressure in the dry system
? Visually inspect the sprinkler heads to make sure they aren’t corroded or clogged
? All your pipes are properly supported
? Drainage is working properly
? Water flow testing for your fire pump
How often: Annually (are you sensing a theme here?). If you are on a municipal property then your hydrant will usually be inspected by your municipality, but we will inspect hydrants located on private property.
What we check for:
? The valve is working properly
? The hydrant isn’t leaking
? That no dirt or silt is in the water
? Chlorine levels in the water
Gas or Chemical Fire Suppression Systems
How often: Bi-annually.
What we check for:
? No dents, cracks or corrosion on the tanks
? Test the tank pressure
? Make sure that the nozzles are clear of debris and un-corroded
? Testing all the electrical and mechanical components
Fire Extinguisher Inspection
How often: Annually. Every six years the extinguishers should also be pulled apart and be checked internally as well.
What are check for:
? That the containers haven’t been dented or damaged
? Pressure inside the tank is at the right levels
? The extinguisher is properly supported
What we check for:
? That emergency lights are able to operate via battery for 30 minutes - two hours.
? Check the batteries for corrosion, damage, and double-check their shelf life
? Inspect fixtures for cracks and corrosion
? Ensuring that wiring converters are functioning properly
Want more information?
Your local Bison Fire Protection technicians are always happy to answer any questions you may have about your fire alarm system, and can advise you on how frequently specific areas should be tested, upgraded, and replaced entirely.
For more information about fire alarm systems, and how we can help you stay safe in the event of a fire, give us a call at (204) 237-3473.
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
The season is coming when many of us perform one of our favourite annual rituals: opening up the cottage.
While it’s great to be able to get away for a few days (or weeks, if you’re lucky) it’s important to stay safe and establish safety guidelines for yourself, your family, and your guests. Here are a few tips to stay safe:
Test All Your Alarms
After a season away, check the batteries in each of your smoke alarms and ensure that they are all working properly. Replace the batteries if not fully charged.
If your cottage has a wood-burning appliance, such as a wood-burning stove, carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed according to manufacturer’s instructions. The best place to install them is outside any sleeping areas or bedrooms, and near the fuel-burning appliance indoors.
Inspect Your Hydro Lines & Wiring
Check to make sure that storm or tree damage hasn’t compromised any of your hydro lines, and report any damage for repair if you spot any.
Additionally, inspect your indoor and outdoor wiring for damage caused by rodents and small animals, and call to have an electrician repair any damage you find.
Install a Fire Extinguisher
Having a fully charged, multi-purpose ABC fire extinguisher in case of emergencies doesn’t just give you and your guests peace of mind, it can also be critical in emergency situations.
Make sure that the fire extinguisher is clearly visible, is easily accessible, and is located near an exit that can also be used to escape the cottage in the event of an emergency. Train family members and guests on how to use it, and make sure that it is fully charged (the needle should be in the green area). Remember: a partially-charged fire extinguisher is considered an empty one, so always make sure it’s fully charged.
Clean up any fallen leaves, branches, dried brush, and other rubbish surrounding your cottage, and make sure that pathways are clean and clear in case you need to use them during an emergency.
Check exhaust vents and flues, and if your cottage has a chimney, schedule an annual inspection to check for creosote buildup, cracks, crumbling bricks and obstructions.
Be Fire Smart
Burn dry, well-seasoned wood to minimize creosote buildup inside your chimney, and dispose of the ashes in a covered container at least 3 feet (one meter) from anything flammable, and use a fireplace screen to keep sparks from escaping as the wood is burning.
Stack firewood away from the cottage, and keep flammable items like fiberglass boats, canoes, and flammable liquids such as gasoline and propane in approved containers a safe distance away from the building.
Know Your Emergency Numbers
Every second counts during an emergency, so make sure you and your guests all know the exact location of your cottage, how to get to it from the closest major highway, and that emergency numbers are posted in an easy-to-find place away from any potential fire sources.
Summertime at the cottage is a time to relax and rest, and by following these safety tips, you can make sure that your summer is both relaxing, enjoyable, and safe.
If you can make it burn, we can put it out!
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
Fire drills are one of the best ways for employers to make sure that their employees are safe and know what to do in the event of a fire. Practice and preparation helps employees respond to emergency situations quickly, calmly, and in the safest manner possible.
Does your business practice regular fire drills? If not, here are a few reasons why you should:
Fire Drill Objectives
The main reasons why you should be conducting regular fire drills are:
? They give employees the chance to practice emergency procedures in a safe and controlled simulation.
? They determine if employees fully understand emergency duties, and can carry them out effectively.
? They evaluate the effectiveness of your current emergency procedure, and can help you identify communication issues, bottlenecks, and other problems.
? They comply with requirements of your local fire code.
Fire Drill Frequency
How often your business conducts fire drills depends largely on your local fire code, and partially on the fire hazards present in your workplace. If you work with flammable materials, or your office is located in a multi-storey building, then fire drills should be conducted every 3-6 months.
Should Fire Drills be Announced or Unannounced?
While your employees would likely prefer that fire drills be announced in advance, unannounced drills are better tools for accurately measuring how prepared your employees are to respond to an emergency, and how effective your emergency procedures are.
However, if you are changing your emergency procedures, or are planning to introduce new employees to your evacuation procedures, it’s best to do so during announced drills. This is because your employees will be focused and feel secure, and are more likely to retain the new information that you’re presenting to them.
How to Evaluate a Fire Drill
When conducting a drill, make sure that safety staff are in place to observe, take notes, and evaluate the drill immediately after it happens. This is critical for ensuring that your employees comply with safety regulations, and for identifying any areas for improvement, such as obstructed hallways.
Some things to include in your evaluation are:
? Did the fire alarms activate properly?
? Could all of your employees hear the alarm?
? Did any employees who need help evacuating get assistance?
? Did your employees check their work areas for fire?
? Could all employees clearly hear any instructions over the intercom?
? Did any auto-locking doors open once the alarm sounded?
? Did your employees close doors and windows (if applicable) before evacuating?
? Was any equipment in use properly shut down?
? Did all employees participate in the drill?
? Did your employees carry out emergency duties properly?
? Did all employees follow assigned evacuation routes?
? Were all hallways and stairwells clear?
? Did your employees know where to assemble outside after evacuating?
? Was someone in charge of checking to make sure all employees were accounted for?
Fire drills may seem like a hassle, but making sure that all your employees are aware of your emergency procedures, and can safely evacuate the building in the event of a fire isn’t just good business; it could save a life!