Fire inspections are a catalyst to the creation of safer working spaces.
There can be no doubt that workplace fire safety should be a top priority for all business owners and that is where fire inspections come in.
Fire inspections exist mostly to highlight fire risk, point out potential fire hazards, and provide a framework upon which to improve business basic fire prevention practices.
But just who conducts these fire inspections, when are they conducted and how frequent?
In this post, we’re going to answer all these questions and more, but first, “What is a fire inspection anyway?”
What is a Fire Inspection?
A fire inspection is a routine assessment of a business’s compliance with the local fire code. Essentially, a fire inspection is carried out by a fire department and is designed to identify any fire code violations as well as propose solutions for correction.
What’s more, the exercise also has a secondary function and that is the education of the business owner on general fire safety best practices as well as increasing cognizance of the Ontario Fire Code.
· Annual inspections for fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, exit lighting
· Annual inspections for smoke alarms
However, it’s worth noting that some enterprises and facilities need more frequent inspections because of the nature of their business. Typical examples would be places that see high volumes of people such as hotels, hospitals, theatres, and nightclubs.
Additionally, the more levels to buildings, i.e. high-rise complexes, the stricter the fire code requirements because of the number of people in the building and the associated complexity of mass evacuation in case of a fire.
Advantages of Regular Fire Inspection
There are numerous advantages that come with complying with annual fire inspection. These include:
Business continuity: Did you know that 80% of companies that suffer a fire incident never recover? Regular inspections can assist with quicker recovery times as they help you ascertain your risk level which in turn enables you to develop more robust fire safety plans and business continuity strategies.
Improved safety: The need to feel safe and secure is a fundamental human need according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Working in a fire compliant building provides employees with a sense of security and peace of mind while working.
Better property and business valuation: Should you ever decide to sell your business or the property in which your business currently operates, you stand to get a better valuation for the property and or business if there have been no fire issues and everything is up to date with compliance standards.
Reduced insurance costs: Property insurance can be expensive and even more so for buildings that are considered as high risk. On the other hand, property that’s well-maintained and equipped with state-of-the-art fire protection systems will attract lower insurance fees.
Retain customers: Fires don’t only affect your employees; they affect everyone you do business with. During downtime, you stand to lose loyal clients as they seek to have their needs met elsewhere. Following fire codes greatly mitigates fire risk and the downtime that can occur.
Now that we know why fire inspections are important and their advantages, let’s consider what inspectors will be assessing during a fire inspection.
Fire Inspection Assessments
So, what will fire inspectors be assessing exactly? Here is a basic checklist to guide you:
(i)Existing Fire Protection Systems
A fire inspector is interested in both your active and passive fire protection systems.
Active systems refer to physical hardware such as a fire sprinkler system, smoke alarms, and fire extinguishers. While passive systems are those resources that prevent fires from spreading or assist with evacuation such as exit doors and lighted exit signs.
(ii)Potential Fire Hazards
Every level within the building will be meticulously appraised for anything that could trigger a fire or act as an ignition source. So things such as frayed wires, damaged cables, faulty appliances will all be noted in the final report for you to rectify.
(iii)Ease of Access
How easy is it for first responders to gain entry into the building in the event of a fire? Time is a precious commodity during such incidents. Therefore, emergency service teams need easy access to the building.
These points are derived from the fire inspection checklist that most inspectors follow. A fire inspection checklist is simply a list of requirements laid out in each province’s Fire Code that dictates the ordinances and standards expected to be followed during fire safety inspection. This checklist explains what businesses need to do in order to be compliant.
Bonus Tip: To help you prepare you can request a sample fire safety checklist prior to your fire inspection from the Fire Department so you can see which fire code violations are the most common and which you’re guilty of ahead of time.
Schedule a Fire Inspection Today
If you would like to learn more about fire protection, the fire safety equipment to have in your building, and what sort of information to include in your fire safety plan, reach out to All Protect Systems.
Alternatively, if you are ready to schedule a fire inspection to assess your business, risks, and hazards, we are only one phone call away.
For all your fire alarm systems, fire warning solutions, emergency backup generators, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans and sprinkler systems think All Protect Systems.
Despite your best maintenance and care, like all your electronic appliances, fire alarm systems must eventually be upgraded and/or replaced. While the natural tendency is to use your existing equipment as long as possible, there are five critical signs that your fire alarm system can no longer perform its essential function. Fire alarm systems are a life safety device, and you can’t afford to operate your business with an inadequate system.
All Protect Systems, Inc has been installing and servicing fire alarm systems for Ontario area businesses since 1996. While you are free to delegate your fire alarm responsibilities to their expert technicians, they’d still like to share some of their expertise with you. Keep your eyes open for the following signs that your fire alarm system has passed its expiration date.
While regular maintenance by trained technicians can prolong the life of your system, years of non-stop use eventually take their toll. Fire alarm systems typically last about 15 years, so if you’re getting close to that mark, it’s time to start thinking about a new one.
Not only does the system performance degrade with age, but it also becomes outdated in terms of code and newer technologies. However, this can actually be a very good thing. Not only are newer panels better at protecting your property, but you can even enjoy cost savings through system upgrades, such as migrating from old-fashioned landlines to modern cellular communication.
2. False Alarms
False fire alarms are a tremendous disruption to commercial activity and a danger to the community. Fire trucks responding to a false alarm aren’t available elsewhere, and their urgency to arrive at the scene may cause accidents on the road.
Unfortunately, as fire alarms age, their sensors don’t function as well as they should. Not only do they increase the risk of false alarms, but they also may not sense a fire as quickly as they did when it was new. Even if the fire alarm system is still in good condition, you should replace smoke detectors every 10 years or according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace heat detectors after 15.
3. Frequent Repairs
Even if your system isn’t having false fire alarms, you may be plagued with frequent trouble or supervisory signals that tend to happen when you’re least ready for them, such as in the middle of the night. While it’s cheaper and easier to summon an All Protect Systems technician to simply have him silence the trouble, another one may quickly follow.
Sensors, wires, and the fire alarm control panel suffer from dirt and exposure to humidity and other environmental factors. The smallest glitch can cause the system to beep, and then your phone starts ringing. If this becomes a regular situation, it’s probably about time to replace your system.
4. Inspection Problems
Depending on your facility’s requirements, you need annual and perhaps even monthly inspections. If you notice that your inspector is finding increasing problems during his evaluation, it’s probably time for you to consider a new fire alarm system.
5. Building Changes
You can’t make any structural changes to your building without the approval of the fire marshal, but just because you can meet the minimum code requirements, it doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from a newer system. It may be more cost-effective to replace an existing system than simply modifying it during major changes to your building structure or usage.
As a building owner or manager, you have a lot of responsibilities which include keeping your fire alarm system up to date. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, don’t hesitate to contact the specialists at All Protect. They can handle the installation, inspection, and service of your commercial fire alarm system.
How invested are you in your business’ fire training efforts?
Understanding fire safety basics is foundational to fire prevention in the workplace. Knowing how to protect your employees and the working environment from fire should be a top priority for any business owner.
From choosing the most appropriate fire extinguishers to on-site fire training with staff; fire inspections and creation of a fire prevention plan, fire safety 101 should be taken seriously.
In this post, we’re going to explore fire extinguishers, how to select the right size and choose the correct one for your office. But first, what are those common office fire hazards to be wary of?
Common Office Fire Hazards
A fire hazard is something that has the potential to start and fuel a fire. By examining the five classes of fire, we can identify different fire hazards.
Class A fires are caused by common combustible materials such as wood, paper, and cloth.
Class B fires are fueled by flammable gases and liquids such as solvents and gasoline.
Class C fires have faulty live electrical connections as the fire source.
Class D fires are caused by combustible metals like titanium, lithium, and magnesium.
Class K fires typically occur within restaurants and fast food places as they are started by cooking oils, grease and fats.
Is a Fire Extinguisher Required in an Office?
Across most Canadian cities and provinces, buildings are expected to carry fire extinguishers with a minimum UL rating of 2-A:10-B:C
This can always be verified with a fire specialist if you’re unfamiliar with your city and or provincial building code regulations.
Now that we know that fire extinguishers are required within a business premise, what are the types of fire extinguishers you should choose for your small office?
Which Fire Extinguisher is Best for an Office?
A comprehensive fire prevention plan will make provision for securing reliable fire extinguishers.
Because no two businesses are alike, there is a need to tailor the fire safety requirements of each enterprise. When recommending the most appropriate fire extinguishers, fire specialists will take into account the size of the business or office space as well as the type of business activities taking place on the premises.
Below we have the minimum enterprise recommendations as laid out by the National Fire Protection Association Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers (NFPA 10).
Armed with an idea of which fire extinguisher to obtain what about the extinguishers sizing? Here are some practical fire extinguisher tips.
Tips on Sizing Your Small Office Fire Extinguisher
Ideally, consider the average dimensions of the room that you’re purchasing fire extinguishers for.
For small to medium-sized office spaces, it’s alright to settle for a 5-lb (2.3kg) fire extinguisher. But for bigger rooms or even commercial-sized spaces, you’re going to want larger fire extinguishers typically the 10-lb (4.5kg) models.
While we’re on the topic of the sizes, you must also think about the physical capabilities of your staff members. Will they be able to easily manoeuvre and operate a bigger and heavier model or it’s best to mount two smaller models side-by-side?
How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Having a fire extinguisher in your office is great but what’s even better is knowing how to use one. Fortunately, there is a simple acronym you can use to remember the steps involved in using this fire suppressant.
First, you’ll want to stand 6 to 8 feet (about 1.82 to 2.43 m) from the fire.
Next, follow the PASS procedure. PASS stands for:
P – Pull the fire extinguisher pin and clasp the extinguisher firmly with the nozzle pointed away from you
A – Aim for the base of the fire
S – Squeeze the fire extinguisher’s lever slowly allowing for a steady, even discharge (Don’t panic if the fire flares up when you first release the agent onto the flames. This is normal.)
S – Sweep the fire extinguishers nozzle in slow, circular side-to-side motions, carefully approaching the fire, and always aiming at the base of the blaze.
An office fire extinguisher presents you with a means of containing a small fire and even putting it out before it grows.
Someone in the office should have a working knowledge of how to use the fire extinguisher on the floor. Ideally, a handful of people should receive fire training and be thus familiar with the type of fire extinguishers used within the office space.
When Should You Use a Fire Extinguisher?
We’ve seen that fire extinguishers can contain chemical fire suppressant agents. For this reason, if you need to use a fire extinguisher, always make sure that all employees have left the space and moved to a safe place first.
Next, you should alert the fire services of the fire. And lastly, the person using the fire extinguisher must make sure they have a clear means of egress and aren’t trapping themselves.
Correct Fire Extinguisher Storage
All fire extinguishers must be secured and stored properly. This means mounting them on walls in the places where there is the highest risk of fire.
In an office, fire extinguishers should be within easy reach of employees – not more than 75 feet (22m) away from workstations.
Fire extinguishers may be kept inside wall cabinets or simply mounted on suitable brackets. The fire extinguisher handle should not trail on the floor but be about 3.5 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 m) from the floor.
The Bottom Line
Fire extinguishers are invaluable fire suppressant tools that must be in every office. Fire prevention for work is not complete if your office space is not equipped with the necessary resources needed to fight and contain a small fire.
If you would like help to train your staff, develop a fire prevention plan, or choose the right fire extinguishers, our All Protect Systems fire specialists are on hand, ready to help.
In addition, we also offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, emergency lighting, exit lighting, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.