With Christmas arriving in the next few days, many retail stores have greatly increased the amount of stock on shelves. Unfortunately, some businesses may go overboard and place products and/or packing materials in emergency exits. Restricted, or blocked, emergency exits have been contributors to great loss of life during fires. When this problem is identified, firefighters must quickly notify the store manager and make sure the problem is immediately corrected. If you’re not 100% sure about fire codes, speak with your company officer about your findings. If the company officer is not sure, NOTIFY THE FIRE MARSHAL or FIRE INSPECTOR and work with him/her to correct the problem!
Here are some photos I’ve taken in various locations around the country. A short explanation accompanies each photo.
Photo #1: Blocked exit. Beyond the blocking, these smaller items will become tripping hazards for people exiting the building. Move the trash! (Extra points for you if you noticed the pile of trash impedes access to the fire extinguisher.)
Photo #2: Blocked emergency exit. In this photo, an emergency exit has been blocked by store employees. No store employees were present to quickly move the blocking device. This emergency exit is very wide and designed to move large numbers of people to safe areas. Note the items intruding into the exit access.
Photo #3: Blocked exit discharge. Emergency exits must lead building evacuees to a safe area. This emergency exit discharge is significantly restricted by the automobile; as evacuees come upon the vehicle, they slow evacuation! (Super-extra points if you noticed this emergency exit is too narrow for code and is a ROLL-UP door!!)
Be a proponent of fire safety whenever you are out in the community, whether on, of off, duty. Company officers: share emergency exit information with your crew. Ask the crew if anyone has ever found an obstructed or blocked exit? If so, how did he/she handle the problem? Let your crew know what the departments policy is for blocked emergency exits.
Stay safe! ~EMAGUY