Emergency lighting should be a fundamental pillar of every fire safety plan. In fact, light is so important that according to the Book of Genesis, God created it on the first day. Fires frequently result in the loss of AC power, so you often need a backup light source during a fire emergency to ensure life safety.
The Ontario Fire Code requires fire safety plans for most commercial buildings. Your fire safety plan should include the following information:
Actions required by building management and the occupants in the event of a fire or other emergency situation
Full documentation for the maintenance of fire protection systems
Detailed planning for fire prevention
Evacuation and emergency response procedures
Requirements for Emergency Lighting
Your fire safety plan must include backup illumination in the event of primary power loss. Section 22.214.171.124 of the Ontario Fire Code mandates that buildings have emergency lighting for the following:
Exits and the access to those exits, exit stairways, public hallways, and other access to exits in any building required to have a fire alarm system
Any room with assembly occupancy that has an occupant load of greater than 60 people
The code defines requirements of the emergency lighting to fulfill these requirements:
The lighting must last for 30 minutes where the distance between the top storey and the ground is less than 18 meters and two hours when it exceeds 18 meters.
The power source for the emergency lighting must be separate from the building’s primary source.
The secondary power source must activate automatically when primary power is lost.
The illumination must provide “an average of at least 10 lx at floor or tread level, or 1 watt/m2 of floor space.”
Emergency Lighting Benefits
The transition that occurs when the main power fails and lights go out is instantaneous and can cause emotional distress, confusion, and even panic in the building inhabitants unless backup lighting appears immediately. In the event of a fire, people must remain calm, and vigilant. They need to exit the building in the quickest and safest manner possible.
Emergency lighting can provide the means to help a building’s occupants to escape a hazardous situation when the primary source has failed. When properly installed and maintained, it saves lives and is surprisingly affordable. It’s also required by law, and the Ontario Fire Marshal can close down a business that doesn’t meet the code’s emergency lighting specifications.
Emergency Lighting Maintenance
If your building has emergency lighting, you must inspect, test, and maintain it per the Ontario Fire Code requirements specified in section 126.96.36.199., and your building’s fire safety plan should include a record of this activity. This maintenance should include:
Pilot light inspection
Inspect terminals and clamps to make sure they’re clean
Electrolyte and specific gravity are up to the manufacturer’s specifications
The battery surface is clean and dry
Emergency lights turn on when primary power fails
Illumination should last for as long as the system design
Charging and recovery of the batteries after a full test should meet the manufacturer’s specifications
Emergency lighting should be one of the pillars of every Ontario commercial building fire safety plan. Once your plan has been established, it’s also necessary to revisit it annually or whenever changes have been made to the building structure or use. Such changes can often require adjustments to your emergency lighting system.
If you have a full schedule and don’t have the time to design, test, and maintain your building’s emergency lighting requirements, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at All Protect Systems Inc. They’ve been protecting Ontario area businesses since 1996 and are waiting for your call.
What are some fire safety practices you should know about?
The measures and practices employed by businesses and homeowners to prevent and suppress fires are many and varied.
However, in professional circles, the four principal areas of fire prevention, which act as the foundation upon which all fire safety practices hinge upon are:
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at each of these pivotal fire prevention elements and the role they play in preventing fires both in the workplace and at home.
Area of Fire Prevention #1 Engineering
Civil engineers work hand-in-hand with architects to plan, design and construct buildings across Canada.
They follow many guidelines including the National Fire Code of Canada 2015 (NFC) which lays out the technical construction regulations that must be followed during the construction or demolition of buildings.
Engineers working on building projects must submit their project proposals alongside fire protection plans to the city building officials for approval. Work can only begin when a building permit has been granted.
Without engineers working on construction projects, it can be difficult to get a building permit approved because the building plan might not meet the city or municipality’s minimum safety and construction standards.
You never want to ignore the prescribed regulation, especially the laws governing safety aspects because the fines associated with fraudulent building practice are prohibitive.
And after a building is complete, what happens when people move in and start working in these structures? Does fire prevention end with engineering?
Not all. The real work, is in fact, just starting now. For, from here onwards, there will be a continual need to educate the general public – especially those living and working in these new buildings on fire safety best practices.
This takes us straight into the next key fire prevention area….
Area of Fire Prevention #2 Education
An investment in fire prevention training is never a waste. In fact, the more people are aware of how fires start, the different fire hazards in their environments, and what to do in the event of a fire, the better.
Education is probably the most important of these four principles as it underscores all of them.
People cannot take the necessary precautions if they don’t know what to look out for. However, if employees are cognizant of the dangers then you’re already halfway to winning the fire prevention battle already.
Fire specialists, as well as fire departments, are able to conduct annual fire inspections of your business premises and or home. During this process, you will learn more about fire code inspections, the importance of these inspections, and just how these codes help to mitigate fire risk.
You see, the resources that are channelled to fire service, protecting structures, and purchasing fire equipment could be significantly much lower if enforcement was taken more seriously. Ultimately, lack of enforcement only hurts the taxpayer.
Enforcing good fire safety practices isn’t merely a stipulation that’s designed to make life difficult or uncomfortable for people, but to safeguard and protect them. It’s undeniably an integral fire prevention strategy that should be encouraged across industries and in every business.
But just how can businesses go about enforcement?
It’s simple – by working in tandem with the Ontario Fire Department and fire specialists like All Protect Systems.
These entities will instruct your employees and fire wardens on how to better understand the Fire Code as well as issues directly related to fire inspections that will be carried out on-site. This point brings us to the final area of fire prevention…
Area of Fire Prevention #4 Evaluation
Fire Codes are not static and are periodically reviewed to keep up with the latest in fire safety practices. This evaluation is done to see how well the community is interpreting and applying the existing codes.
Continual evaluation allows for Fire Codes to be refined and improved upon. And it’s not just the Fire Codes that are weighed but the Building and Electrical Codes as well.
Who does the evaluation of these codes you’re asking?
A construction commission is appointed by the city or municipality. This commission consists of workers from different trades including engineering, fire, construction, and electrical.
What are they reviewing exactly?
They are tasked to systematically comb through each of the codes during public meetings and give their professional insight as to the worthiness of the codes as they apply to the community in which they are meant to be implemented.
Now that you know the four areas of fire prevention, what should your next step be?
Schedule a Fire Inspection
What is the fire readiness of your business and home? What are the fire safety practices that you’re relying upon to keep you and your employees safe? You cannot effectively protect your property if you’re not sure what fire hazards exist and also don’t have an up-to-date fire safety plan in place.
Thankfully there is a solution.
The best way to rectify each of these problems is to schedule a fire inspection with your local fire specialist.
For businesses and homeowners in Waterloo, Ontario our team here at All Protect Systems is more than happy to hop onto a call with you and set an appointment for an in-person visit.
On top of fire inspections, we also offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.
While there has been a general decrease in fires over the years as demonstrated by the graph below provided by the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management it is evident that the threat of fire is still a very real risk.
Source: Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, February 2021
Therefore, it is imperative to familiarize yourself with these fire codes as they dictate the required building standards.
That’s not all because they also guide you if you’re working with hazardous materials.
These codes lay down the mandates for fire safety regulation, how inspections and maintenance of high-rise buildings are to be conducted as well as demolition protocols.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the most common Canadian Fire Codes to know. But before we do so, here is a quick definition of fire codes.
“…a set of standards established and enforced by the government for fire prevention and safety in case of fire as in fire escapes etc.”
Simply put, fire codes are property regulations that ensure that all buildings within a given district or province are kept up to a suitable standard. These fire codes are ordinances under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act and complement the Provincial Building Codes.
Canada’s Fire Code is an edict that was made in 1997 under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.
What is the Purpose of Fire Codes?
Why is it important to have fire codes?
Reason #1 Safety of building occupants
Firstly, it has to do with the safety of those living or working in these buildings – as well as firefighters who respond to an incident.
You see, building and fire codes were established after historic fires devastated parts of the country in the previous century.
It soon became apparent that there was a need for designating quality and safety fire protocols. Regulations that standardized construction of buildings and how to deal with fires in said buildings.
Canada’s first building code was published in 1941 and adopted by the province of Ontario in 1974 as the Ontario Building Code Act. This paved the way for the Fire Codes that would follow. The Building Code ensured that across the province, construction standards were uniform.
Reason #2 Ensures fire safety compliance
The second purpose of fire codes is to ensure fire safety compliance of buildings.
This takes into consideration fire suppression modus operandi, presence of fire extinguishers, clearly marked exit ways, dicta on how combustible materials are to be handled and used during construction.
Furthermore, fire codes also tell property owners about appropriate building designs, operations and layout of the maintenance plans.
It is the property owner’s responsibility to comply with fire codes unless other arrangements have been made.
These penalties are quite steep. This has been done deliberately as a deterrent. If you think these numbers seem too high, look at these companies and the amounts they were fined.
In 2015, Ontario-based Magna Exteriors & Interiors Corp was found guilty of failing to guarantee on-site safety for workers after an employee suffered severe burns. The automotive parts manufacturer was fined $80,000 and slapped with a series of additional surcharges.
In that same year, Jay Patry Enterprises, a construction company also in Ontario was fined $74,000 following an incident where a standpipe constructed on a residential property they were working on caught fire.
Owner of 16 high-rise apartments in Ottawa, Saickley Enterprises was fined $75,000 for several Fire Protection and Prevention Act violations in July 2014.
Now that you’re aware of the seriousness of fire codes, what are the fire codes you should know about?
What are the Different Fire Codes to Know?
Fire codes are classified based on which province you live in.
A quick look through each of the codes and you’ll realize that the information contained within each fire code irrespective of the province is similar in nature.
There are typically seven to nine sections divided as follows:
III.Fire Safety for Industrial and Commercial Uses
IV.Flammable and Combustible Liquids
V.Hazardous Materials, Processes and Operations
VI.Fire Protection Equipment
VII.Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Fire Emergency Systems in High Buildings
If you’re a business owner or landlord, the onus is on you to know the fire codes of your province to ensure compliance and avoid violation and potential fines.
Familiarizing yourself with the fire codes is a sure-fire way of making sure everything is up to standard and one of the best practices for all-around fire prevention.
If you’re in Ontario and would like to discuss fire codes, fire extinguisher tips, or purchasing an emergency backup generator for your business or home, we’re always happy to help.
All Protect Systems are specialists in the service, installation, and maintenance of fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, emergency backup generator, exit lighting, fire safety plans and sprinkler systems.