Welcome to this edition of Security Guard Stories! Today we tell you about our guard who saved an entire sawmill from burning down.
On Saturday night Security Guard *Smith was making his rounds of the saw mill. It was cold and wet this evening. Snowflakes were falling, and the air was cold. The surrounding forests added to the cold and quiet night.
Officer Smith usually had quiet shift. One of his main duties was to make rounds of the lumber mill to keep an eye out for safety risks.
Lumber mills can be dangerous locations to work. Logging remains one of the most dangerous industries in the United States with the injury rate 40 times more than other industries. Over 70 deaths were reported in year 2010.
The hazards have no isolated area either. They happen in both the forest, on the road, and in the lumber mill. Employees routinely operate hazardous machinery. Those machines account for the most common hazards in the logging industry.
Forklifts and industrial trucks cause about 96,000 injuries a year. More than one third of those are classified as serious injuries.
The massive weight of the logs falling and sliding around also pose constant risks to people as well.
Fires are a huge concern at sawmills due to the sawdust, wood shavings, and chips. A small spark can ignite a flame. Second to a spark, friction heat, hot objects, and direct flame also cause fires.
Sources of ignition often include electric panels, welding equipment, cutting torches, and machinery.
To lessen the risk mills often clean out of the plant and add proper ventilation routinely. While most inspections are only required once a year, it’s recommended to keep areas safe and clean much more often than that.
To keep this sawmill safe the company hired security services to keep watch nightly. Guards look for both security and safety risks due to the expensive materials and machinery.
During the regular round, Officer Smith smelled smoke coming from one of the buildings. While it was late at night, the complex was not empty and he knew there were people in the building.
The security guard did not see fire anywhere - so he knew he had a decision to make fast.
He immediately called emergency services.
If there’s a fire, you always need to act quickly. The situation can escalate in seconds and you only have one chance. Alert everyone and have everyone get out of the building together. There should be a emergency exit plan available. Familiarize yourself with it before hand and help others know what to do. As you escape, don’t delay to save valuables. Don’t try to stop and investigate the fire. The most important goal is to get out and get safe.
Once you’re out and safe, call emergency services. When you're talking to the operator to give them the complete address and as many details as you can. Tell them what is on fire (a two story house, the garage, etc.), where it is, etc. Also make sure to tell them if there is anyone trapped in the building that will need to be rescued.
It was quickly classified as a 3-alarm fire. Overnight crews battled cold and snowy conditions and remained on the scene to ensure the safety of the building. 37 fire trucks were needed to put out the fire.
It was a dangerous environment. Many buildings housed heavy duty equipment, combustible materials, and plenty of wood that would burn quickly and strongly. The entire sawmill was at stake, and the surrounding forest could easy spread the fire to unmanageable proportions.
The buildings are already tricky to navigate, and adding smoke makes them like a maze.
Emergency services worked hard and stayed late to ensure everything was taken care of and no risk was there for the fire to restart.
10-15 employees were in the building at the time of the fire and several suffered from smoke inhalation. No other injuries occurred.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The sawmill managers and owners thanked the security guard for his quick response.
We thank him too. His keen smell and knowledge of proper protocols might have been the key to saving this sawmill. We know it’s a risky job making rounds at night at a manufacturing facility. Lots of grounds to cover and dangerous equipment to manage. We're glad he was there to keep everyone safe and secure.
We manage many different industries and understand the unique environments of each. We’re proud that our security guards understand each situation and adapt quickly. They take proper note of their site’s responsibility. It’s one of the many reasons they, and we, love what we do!
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*Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.