Fires in any kind of factory are devastating occurrences. Fire in clothing factories are particularly destructive since there are large amounts of fabric, equipment, and chemicals present. Once a fire begins, there is an increased risk for explosions as the fire easily spreads from one combustible item to the next. The nature of the factory floor space also increases risk of death and injury since there are often poorly ventilated and compartmentalized spaces within the factory. Workers may also be confined to close quarters while working, which may make evacuation more difficult. Because of all of these risks, it is important to have a strong evacuation plan and emergency alert system in place.
Fires are enormously destructive and can ignite and spread quickly with little warning. In factories where large quantities of people are working in close proximity, a fire can pose a serious threat since smoke can accumulate quickly and make evacuation disorienting. In clothing factories it is extremely important to have a good fire alarm system to alert workers of smoke or flames to ensure a speedy exit. In clothing factories, virtually anything can spark a fire. An electrical short or an equipment malfunction can ignite debris or clothing and quickly burgeon into a larger problem. This is especially dangerous when the fire ignites in a remote location out of view.
To prevent the risk of fires in clothing factories, strong safety regulations for the workspace need to be in effect and emergency planning needs to be well rehearsed. Emergency exits should be abundant and clearly marked. Windows should remain unlocked during working hours and workers should understand what to do in the event of a fire. Chaos and uncertainty are common during a fire and people become injured or killed because of this confusion. Rehearsing a rapid response to fires is a good idea every month or so to ensure that everyone understands what to do in a suffocating, smoke filled space. Part of this quick response is triggering an alarm to notify the fire department. The quicker the response, the less likely the fire is to extoll severe damage.
Ensuring that damage is minimized involves keeping up on safety mechanisms within the factory. Functioning sprinklers and alarms are the best ways to ensure both a quick response from firefighters and minimize the destruction of the fire after the initial outbreak. Clothing factory fires are high risk for fires because of the often poorly regulated working conditions and building conditions. In addition to the human cost of severe fires, there is a large financial toll considering the loss of hundreds or thousands of dollars of merchandise. If the fire destroys the building, the loss is compounded even more. In the aftermath the entire structure may be uninhabitable and require extensive restoration or a complete rebuilding. The best way to deal with clothing factory fires is to understand what causes them and work to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
by +Ben Vaughn
Ben Vaughn writes for CRCS Disaster Kleenup on fire prevention, flood preparation, and the benefits of maintaining an emergency preparedness kit.