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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Safety First - Training Tobacconists

In sixteen years of running retail tobacconists in three states I have never experienced a fire.  That winning streak came to an end in 2011 with two couch fires in one store!  Both fires started the same way, with a lit cigar ember falling between the couch cushions and starting a smoldering fire.  Both fires smoldered for a long while before people realized there was even a problem.  After about twenty minutes, smoke started emanating from the couch and the customers and tobacconist realized there was something wrong.  After squirting the smoldering couch folds with water, a fire extinguisher was necessary to completely extinguish the fire.  The second fire was serious enough that the customers dragged the couch outside of the store where the fire department had to soak it with their extinguishers.  On both occasions we were lucky to have well trained tobacconists and customers who were willing to help.  The worst case scenario was avoided… but barely.   Imagine if the smoldering fire was not noticed till after we closed and the last employee left the store… that would have been tragic!  Thank God there was no significant property damage or injury to any persons on these occasions.  But these fires should be a strong reminder to all tobacconists to have plenty of fire extinguishers on hand and tobacconists who know where they are and how to use them.    And make it a point to constantly remind your tobacconists where the extinguishers are and how to act in an emergency situation: it’s amazing how quickly people can forget what to do in a crisis!

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