Every year, fire safety pros conduct thousands upon thousands of safety inspections of businesses and facilities all over the country. We do these inspections to catch any potential fire hazards before they become catastrophes. Those catastrophes could be anything from property loss to the actual loss of life.
We know that every business owner does what they can to make sure their facilities are up to code, but there’s always a learning curve for these kinds of things and always something to learn.
For those of you who are new to the process, here are some of the basics of fire inspections and what you can expect when it’s time for you to get one done. Let’s jump right in!
To get ready for your inspection, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a checklist of all the things you need to have inline so you can rest assured that at least the basics are covered. It’ll help you stay on track with the maintenance you’ve already conducted as well as some of the things that you still need to do.
Also, annual fire inspections are random, sometimes unscheduled events. That means it’s crucial to be prepared at all times to make sure your building is safe.
Why Inspections are Good
Fire inspections are necessary because of what they do – but in many ways, they’re more important in terms of what they say: that you’re a responsible person who provides a safe working environment for employees, residents, and customers who will go to and from your building.
It’s also vital to your security. Even if you’re the owner, the statistics on fires in small businesses are sobering. 80% of small businesses that experience even a small fire will never reopen. In addition, a building that is well maintained has better resale value and can help you save on insurance premiums.
The Actual Inspection
Inspectors will check various things in your building to ensure they are working as they should. Access points to the building should be free and clear of any obstructions. Means of egress should be accessible and easy to see and in good working order. Electrical components should be appropriately labeled and installed. Exit signs should be lit, you should have backup power in the event of a power outage, and all your alarms need to be both maintained and easy to get to.
If you have any questions on this topic or any other fire protection topics, please feel free to contact Protegis Fire & Safety.
Fire departments all over the country perform regular inspections on businesses to make sure you’re up to code when it comes to fire safety and help identify areas where your place of business can, should, or must improve it.
How many inspections, how intense, and how frequent these occur can vary a lot from community to community, but there is one constant that remains present throughout all of them – and that’s that you as the business owner want to avoid a failed test or risk getting fined.
Today’s blog is here to help ensure that you don’t get caught off guard during your fire inspection this year. Here are some of the most common ways people fail their fire inspections and some of the things you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Means of Egress
Means of egress basically means that all your exit doors are always accessible at all times – particularly your emergency exit doors. Not only is this important for employees and customers to escape the building, but it also helps firefighters have greater and easier access to your building in the event, they have to fight a fire.
Most of these codes are straight forward. Your building and address need to be clearly visible from the street, and then it needs to be easy to access. Additionally, there should be a nearby connection that allows fire departments to supply water that’s clearly visible and easy to get to.
Most of this should be baked into the bones of your building, but if you’ve got emergency exits blocked with furniture or other obstacles, make sure they’re cleared out. Just make sure that anyone who needs to get out of the building can do so easily and that those who need to get into the building easily – can.
Believe it or not, electrical issues are a frequent reason businesses flunk fire inspections – and a lot of those failures have to do with things that are, well – kind of simple oversights. Things like circuits needing to be properly labeled on any and all electrical panels. It seems basic, but you’d be surprised. The good news here is that an electrician can solve your problem for you quickly (in less than an hour).
That being said, in larger, industrial settings, things can be a bit more cumbersome. Things like extension cords are considered a no-no, and trust us when we tell you – we’ve walked into plenty of small auto repair shops and smaller workshops where some pretty significant equipment was plugged into the wall by a regular extension cord. That’s a great way to get yourself fined. Any extension cords that are used – have to be heavy-duty, grounded, and in good repair. And better yet, any significant, large, or ‘mission-critical’ device – needs to be feeding directly into a power source. Not plugged into a power strip like your third video game system.
And finally – all electrical receptacles should have some sort of cover plating installed. That’s a huge thing for industrial settings. Again – this is another quick, easy fix for an electrician.
Flammable or Combustible Materials
Storage of combustible materials has to be maintained in an orderly fashion but more important – they need to be kept away from anything that produces sparks or flames. Also, they need to be placed in containers or storage cabinets that are approved. If you’re in the business of using materials like this, you probably know what you can and can’t use, but if this is all news to you – make sure you go out of your way to call the local fire department to figure out what’s good and what would be considered a violation. Yes, violating this will get you fined, but more important – you’re putting the lives of your employees at extreme risk.
It’s also important to remember that you’re only allowed to have a limited amount of these sorts of combustible liquids and material in your facility. Now again, this varies from municipality to municipality – so be sure you know what you’re allowed to have and what you’re not. But don’t play around here. These materials are no joke, and people can get hurt. We have these codes for a reason.
Maintaining your fire equipment should be something you invest in for various reasons, but another reason to stack on the ole pile is that not maintaining your equipment can cost you money in the way of fines. When you are being inspected, folks will look to ensure that you have proof of proper testing and maintenance on key fire safety equipment in your facility – specifically fire extinguishers and smoke alarms.
If your extinguishers have been lying around for years, it’ll catch up to you. If you haven’t checked your sprinkler systems or tested your smoke alarms – it’ll catch up to you. Long story short – spending a little extra every year to have a fire safety pro maintain your equipment is nothing compared to the costs associated with a code violation, downtime, or lost revenue. And that’s not even scratching the surface of the real reason why it’s so important – it can save people’s lives.
If you’re concerned your business might not be where it needs to be with regards to the fire code, give us a call today, and we’ll be happy to help. We can be a valuable ally in your fight to stay compliant and pass your inspections. Stay safe.
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