Like most children, I was taught basic fire safety in school. On an annual basis, a fireman would come into our classroom, dressed in his gear. He’d explain to us the importance of a working fire alarm, tell us a few statistics, and then encourage us to come up with a fire safety plan. Each individual exit strategy would follow us students home, to be later disposed of and (at least in my case) more or less entirely forgotten.
On my twelfth birthday, my laissez-faire attitude towards fire safety would be forever changed: My childhood home caught fire. After the fire had been extinguished, I remember walking through the damaged hallways, the overpowering smell of ‘burnt’ stuck in my nose. All I could think about was how incredibly fortunate my family was. Yes, we lost everything, but no one was hurt.
As can be imagined, this event had a lasting impact on me everywhere I went: at home working smoke alarms, thoroughly discussed fire escape plans, and designated meeting places, were a requirement. At work, I ensured that we had the appropriate fire protections in place, including alarms and extinguishers, as well as proper training.
Don’t wait until something tragic happens to take fire safety seriously. Fire hazards are a real threat, especially in the trades and construction industry.