Fire Safety Neglect Causes Danger to Consumers
I was recently at a local grocery store and the blocked fire door shown in the photos below immediately caught my eye as we perused the fruits and veggie isles. This particular retail store is part of a large retail chain with a corporate safety department that presumably trains employees and management in fire safety.
The store is also located within a municipality with a fire marshal’s office that regularly inspects commercial occupancies and yet there was an emergency exit that was effectively blocked by a merchandise display. As a fire and safety professional and former firefighter and fire marshal, I would love to say that this situation is a rare occurrence within retail and other commercial occupancies, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been my experience during countless site visits throughout my career.
I wasn’t able to speak with a manager that evening but called the store the next day to express my concern about the blocked fire exit. While the manager agreed that the blocked exit door was a problem, I was told that customers can:
“Always find another exit if there is an emergency and someone could always go around the produce display and use the door.”
While serious fires in commercial properties with modern fire detection and sprinkler systems have become rarer, occupants may still need to urgently exit the premises for other reasons…such as an active shooter event. I’m amazed that this sort of attitude toward safety and fire risk still prevails among too many people across a spectrum of industries and clearly shows that we still have a long way to go in our journey toward instilling proactive attitudes among employees, supervisors, and managers.
Remember, just because something unfortunate hasn’t had happened yet, doesn’t mean that it is not a possibility in the near future.