Fire safety training must consider issues related to portable heating

Two recent incidents involving portable heaters have raised the need for more awareness of health and safety issues related to these devices. Last June in Northhamptonshire, a fire broke out in a retired woman’s home. Her minor injuries as well as the property damage sustained were ultimately traced to a portable heater with electrical problems. The United States has actually seen a major recall of portable heaters deemed defective, and more than 70,000 units have been voluntarily recalled by the Big Lots outlet located in the Midwestern state of Ohio.

Many businesses rely on portable heaters of one variety or another to augment their space heating arrangements. In some cases, this reliance comes from an understanding that the building’s native heating system does not equally serve every room and hallway. There may be cold spots scattered throughout the premises. In other cases, the need for portable heating is based in the fact that certain workers may simply have a preference for an office environment warmer than the norm.

Fire safety training is essential for many reasons, but the use of portable heating equipment provides yet one more reason for it. Business managers and owners as well as company fire safety officials need to understand basic facts about portable heating units, including allowable distances between such units and walls or flammable surfaces. Personnel should also be fully informed about the need for regular maintenance and period safety checks of portable heating equipment.