Fire exits are almost seen like an ordinary exit. It’s a shame, but most of us have become desensitised to the function and presence of a fire exit. In many cases offices will use them as a regular exit. Furthermore, even though we see those ‘Don’t Obstruct’ signs, there always seems to be something blocking the door. Whether it’s a parcel, a chair or even garbage. Fire exits are there for a reason and it’s important to keep them clear.

Why shouldn’t you obstruct a fire exit?

Put simply, because it’s dangerous. Fire exits are designed in a way that during an emergency, all occupants of the building should be able to have access to an obstacle-free path. If there is a fire, the smoke will cause a thick haze and therefore make it difficult to see the ground. Anything left in the way of the fire exit is a potential tripping hazard.

Also, when an emergency response team enters the building, they will quite often use the fire exit for going in and out of the building. By blocking these exits, it is potentially interfering with their work of getting the building under control.

How can you ensure a fire exit remains unobstructed?

As you can probably tell, by simply leaving signs up which say ‘Don’t Obstruct Fire Exit’ there is little done in making this happen. As mentioned earlier, people see these signs everyday and therefore they lose touch with what they mean. By implementing regular checks, fire exits could be assessed daily. Although this already happens in most buildings, it still leaves a large opportunity for people to block these exits with garbage and boxes in-between checks.

Security cameras should be set-up near to fire exits that are quite often obstructed. Fines could later be issued to those that are intentionally obstructing these safety passageways. Once a few workers in each building begin to receive fines, the news will travel and everyone will realise that you shouldn’t obstruct these exits.

Is your work’s fire exit obstructed? Next time you see something blocking the exit be sure to move it. You’re not just following rules, but you are actively creating a safer environment for everyone there.