How to Handle Fire and Gas Responsibly

Precautions and advice

Winter is not far off and with that comes the increased risk of fire hazards as gas stoves, heaters and fires are used more frequently. In 2014, 2 090 people burnt to death in Gauteng and shack fires behind the majority of these deaths. Are you prepared for the possibility of a fire?

As the colder months approach, naturally the use of open fires and gas appliances is on the rise. Your business is your pride and joy – the last thing you would want is to see your livelihood literally going up in flames due to carelessness when a disaster could be averted. Take care with these safety methods when using gas or an open flame for your shisanyama, cooking or for heating and protect your tavern.

Installing gas at your premises

Winter is not far off and with that comes the increased risk of fire hazards as gas stoves, heaters and fires are used more frequently.

As liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is highly flammable, take these safety precautions into consideration when having an LPG appliance installed at your premises.

As part of the National Health and Safety Act, installation of an open system must be performed by a registered installer who will be able to produce a certificate of registration to prove this. Not only is this a legal requirement but in the event of a fire breaking out at your premises, your insurance will not cover damage caused by an unregistered installation. You will also need to obtain a certificate of conformity for gas appliances from the installer.

Do not use illegal gas cylinders

Give some thought to where you buy your gas canisters. A reputable dealer in LPG will check the canister when you bring it in to be refilled, and ensure that the canister is safe for reuse. If you’re not using a licensed dealer, you run the risk of using canisters which are overfilled. An overfilled canister could explode.

Ensure the gas cylinder has the logo of the company on it with a serial number around the valve. For a list of reputable gas dealers visit: www.lpgas.co.za

Precautions to take with gas

If you smell gas in your premises when you think everything is switched off, act immediately! Turn the gas off at the source and put out any open flame. Once this is done, you can ventilate the area to get rid of the smell. Be wary of operating any electrical device until the gas smell has cleared, as a spark could set off a fire. Do not light that cigarette! If you suspect there is a gas leakage, get a registered LPG gas installer to check appliances and canisters to find the source and repair it.

Precautions to take with open flame

  • Fire needs fuel, a source of heat and oxygen to burn. Don’t store these three elements near to each other. Keep naked flames away from combustible materials such as packaging material, wood, flammable liquids such as gas or solvents, furniture, walls and ceilings, textiles or waste materials;
  • Make sure your fire or open flame is on a stable surface and cannot topple easily. Once you’ve finished cooking, extinguish the flame properly so that it doesn’t continue to smoulder;
  • Establish a smoking section in your tavern with the stipulation that cigarettes are completely put out and ensure that this is strictly adhered to;
  • Store flammable liquids such as gas or petrol safely: and
  • Make sure you have a sufficient number of SABS-approved fire extinguishers installed on the premises which are checked regularly by a reputable company. Make sure you know how to use them.

What to do in the event of a fire:

  • Train your staff on which exits to use in the event of a fire before any incidents take place and that there is an alarm or foghorn on the premises to warn people of the danger;
  • Make sure that there are at least two easily accessible escape routes out of the premises should a fire break out – nothing should block access to these routes.
  • Post a diagram inside your tavern detailing escape routes for your staff and patrons and have routine fire drills to accustom staff to dealing with an emergency. Also, ensure that your staff know how to handle drunk patrons who could become difficult to deal with in an emergency situation.
  • If a fire breaks out, sound the alarm immediately! Your staff must stay calm and lead patrons to safety.
  • Do not go back into the premises.
  • Call emergency services as soon as you can – call 10111 or 112 or the City of Johannesburg on 011 375 5555.
  • Alert your neighbours of the potential hazard.
  • Be aware of the number of people on your premises at all times and where they are located. In the event of a fire, you need to be able to account for everyone who has made it out of the building.

Take matters into your own hands

Be proactive: make sure your premises are insured for fire damage, that you have the correct fire safety equipment and that your staff are trained on how to use it.

Visit www.healthandsafetytrainingsa.co.za or call 0860 723 389 for first aid and firefighting training as well as purchasing fire safety equipment. You can also purchase fire safety equipment from www.safequip.co.za or call 011 397 7723.