Smoke detectors are a critical safety feature in your business and home. Functional fire alarm systems save lives. Therefore, it’s pivotal that your smoke detectors and alarms are in good working order.
In this post, we’re going to explore the necessity and importance of smoke detectors as well as how to know when it’s time to replace them.
How Often Should You Replace Smoke Detectors?
Fire specialists recommend replacing your smoke detectors every 10 years. If your fire alarm systems and smoke detectors are 10 years or older, it’s probably high time you replaced them.
It is also advisable to carry out monthly tests to make sure detectors are working correctly.
Non-functional smoke detectors pose a serious threat because they won’t be able to alert you if a fire breaks out. This compromises the safety of your family, employees and clients.
The leading causes of smoke detector failure are missing or dead batteries. Today, most professional fire system specialists will recommend installing a hard-wired smoke detector with a battery backup.
Smoke Detector Routine Maintenance
Smoke detectors should be tested every month by a qualified person.
Ensure the building is regularly dusted and swept of cobwebs as these can obstruct the detection of smoke in the atmosphere incapacitating your detectors.
If your smoke detectors are outfitted with regular batteries, swap these out for a new set at least every 12 months.
Smoke detectors can wear out, consequently, it’s best to have them all replaced once every 10 years.
If you’re not sure of the last time the smoke detectors in your building were replaced, it’s possible to verify by looking at their labels. These labels will indicate when the detectors were made. A missing label is a good sign that the smoke detector might be old and past its replace-by-due date.
When to Replace Your Smoke Detectors
You might be wondering, but how do you know when it’s time to replace your trusty detectors? Here are five tell-tale signs.
1. Your smoke detector looks yellow
One of the fastest ways to know if it’s time to overhaul your smoke detectors is by quickly scanning them for a yellow tinge. The change in colour of smoke detectors is attributed to bromine, a flame retardant substance coating the outer part of the detector.
Through wear and tear, exposure to the elements and oxidation, bromine begins to change the original colour of the smoke detector. This reaction happens over a long period of time, which is an insider tell-tale sign that it’s replacement time.
2. Repetitive chirping that won’t stop
Smoke detectors are not supposed to chirp constantly without cause. If they’re chirping it’s either the batteries are low, the detector itself is about to die, or there’s a real fire! Whichever way you look at it, chirping noises from your detectors isn’t a sound that should be ignored.
Before you rush to replace the smoke detector, you might want to have a technician hardwire the device. If the chirping still persists in spite of this, then it might be an indicator that the detector is on its way out and you should schedule a replacement.
3. Fails the monthly test
Provincial Building and Fire Codes recommend homeowners and building managers test their smoke detectors at least once each month. This test affirms working detectors and draws your attention to the smoke detectors in need of replacement.
Fortunately, the test is quite straightforward. All that’s required is pressing the “test” button that’s on each smoke detector. If the device is working correctly, it should let out a loud siren (you may want to step back because it can get very loud!).
If, however, after pressing the test button there’s no beeping sound or the sound is muffled then this must be addressed by replacing the faulty smoke detector.
4. Incessant alarm without cause
Smoke detectors are designed to be robust, home safety devices, however as they age, they can begin to sound for no apparent reason.
This does get on the nerves of many people to the point that they remove the batteries in their detectors altogether. This is of course counterproductive and leaves your home vulnerable in the event that a fire actually does break out.
So, instead of popping out the batteries, consider uninstalling all your old smoke detectors and installing a new batch.
4. It’s faulty and the product was recalled
It does sometimes happen that batches of smoke detectors are recalled by the manufacturer because of a faulty part. If this happens it can be quite a big inconvenience, but it does give you the chance to re-install a new lot of smoke detectors.
How can you know whether your smoke detectors have been recalled? Typically, a quick internet search using a keyword like ‘faulty [insert brand name] smoke detectors in [insert name of town/city]’ will provide you with the answers you need. Alternatively, the store that sold you the products might also ring you up to alert you of a product recall.
Where Should Your Smoke Detectors Be?
Firstly, you’ll want to hire a professional fire expert to install your smoke detectors. They will scope the area in need of protection and identify the best places to set up smoke detectors.
Ideally, there should be smoke detectors on each level of a multi-story building. If it’s a residential space, detectors can be installed within every bedroom and hallway.
Smoke detectors should not be installed close to windows, drafty locations, and vents.
They must be mounted on the ceiling at least 10 cm (4 inches) from the wall. If you’ve opted to have them situated on the wall, they should be placed at a distance of 10-30 cm (4-12 inches) from the ceiling.
Smoke Detector Installation Near You
Nutech Fire Prevention is a leading smoke detector installation service provider. 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.
“Fire extinguishers are portable devices used to extinguish small fires or reduce their destruction before firefighters arrive at the scene.”
Put another way, it’s a fire safety system used in the suppression and control of containable fires. It’s important to highlight the fact that employees should only attempt to suppress minor fires, typically when an emergency arises.
Employees should in no way try to extinguish a fire that’s beyond their control. We mean here a fire which has scaled to ceiling height, where there is a risk of being trapped, or where there is an explosion hazard.
In this case, the designated fire wardens should channel their efforts to ensure that everyone has been evacuated from the building as they were taught during their fire training. Once safely at the meeting point, they can then contact the relevant fire authorities.
The Two Types of Fire Extinguishers
As mentioned at the beginning, there are two main types of fire extinguishers:
Stored Pressure Fire Extinguishers
Stored pressured fire extinguishers (SPFE) are designed in such a way that the firefighting agent is contained in the same compartment as the expellant. The firefighting agent can range from liquid gas to dry/wet chemical agents.
Nitrogen is generally the propeller of choice in these fire suppressant systems. SPFE are also the most common type of fire extinguisher you’ll find. Therefore, this is the type of fire extinguisher you’ll probably be recommended for your business.
Cartridge-Operated Fire Extinguishers
Cartridge-operated fire extinguishers (COFE) are hand-held cylindrical pressure systems and are the less common of the two forms. The extinguishing gas is stored within a different part of the cartridge.
Prior to discharge, this gas-containing chamber is punctured and the extinguishing agent mixes with the propellant. Cartridge-operated fire extinguishers are mostly found in industrial-type businesses. Hence, if your business is industrial in nature, the best fire extinguishers are generally COFE.
Now, with this understanding, let’s examine how to choose fire extinguishers for your business based on the agents they contain. Here are our best fire extinguisher tips.
How to Choose the Right Fire Extinguisher for Your Business
Example businesses: Manufacturing, laboratories, pharmaceuticals
Recommended fire extinguisher: Carbon dioxide fire extinguisher
Carbon dioxide fire extinguishers are used to extinguish Class B and C fires. These are fires involving chemicals and sometimes electrical power tools or elements that may arise in manufacturing sites, laboratories and pharmaceutical spaces.
Recommended fire extinguisher: Chemical foam extinguishers
Chemical foam fire extinguishers are the most versatile extinguishers and hence are often recommended for the average business. Whether you’re a bookstore, rubber plant, plastics manufacturer, lumber, clothing store, or hardware store, this is the fire extinguisher for you.
3.Dry Chemical Extinguishers
Example business: Industrial complexes with flammable substances
Recommended fire extinguisher: sodium chloride fire extinguishers
Businesses whose activities revolve around volatile elements like gas, oil, and paint, as well as manufacturing plants with lots of power tools and motors, are at high risk for fire and thus necessitate dry chemical fire extinguishers.
4.Dry Powder Extinguishers
Example businesses: Metal refineries, metal extraction plants, mining sites
Recommended fire extinguisher: Dry powder extinguishers
Businesses involving the extraction, refinement, and conversion of metals into different products need dry powder extinguishers. Especially when dealing with combustible metals such as titanium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
5.Liquid Gas Extinguishers
Example businesses: Gas companies, oil, paint and lacquer dealerships
Recommended fire extinguisher: Liquid gas extinguishers
Liquid gas is the suppressant of choice for fires whose fuel is paint, oil, lacquer or gas.
Example businesses: Libraries, clothing shops, paper mills, woodworks
Recommended fire extinguisher: Water-based fire extinguisher
Businesses dealing in rubber and plastics can also rely on water-based fire extinguishers.
7.Wet Chemical Extinguishers
Example businesses: Restaurants, fast food outlets, commercial kitchens
Recommended fire extinguisher: Wet chemical fire extinguishers
These fire extinguishers are best for businesses such as commercial kitchens where the risk of fire from grease, fats, and cooking oils is high.
Storing Your Fire Extinguishers
Great, now that you know which fire extinguisher to purchase for your business, here are our best fire extinguisher tips regarding storage.
Tip #1 Where to Mount Your Fire Extinguisher
Fire extinguishers should be mounted in a place that’s easy to access and clearly visible. They should not be kept locked in cardboards, stored in backrooms, or inaccessible places.
Preferably set up the extinguishers near fire hazards or fire hazard areas like kitchens but give enough room to reach the extinguisher. Therefore, approximately 10m (30 feet) away from the fire hazard.
Tip #2 Store Fire Extinguishers Vertically
Whenever possible, store the fire extinguishers in an upright position.
Laying the canister on its side may interfere with discharge when you need to use it. This is particularly true for COFE also known as non-pressurized fire extinguishers.
Tip #3 Avoid Adverse Weather Conditions
Fire extinguishers can be affected by adverse weather conditions. Therefore, ensure they are kept in places where temperatures are not extreme.
The general rule is that the rooms in which fire extinguishers are stored should be within the following temperatures: -40 and 48.9°C (-40 and 120°F).
Our All Protect fire specialists are happy to make fire extinguisher recommendations for your business.
Not only that, but we can also design custom fire safety plans, conduct on-site routine testing, fire training, gas detection, inspections, and maintenance of fire protection systems such as sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, emergency lighting, emergency backup generators, and exit lighting.
Section 2.8.2 of the Ontario Fire Code requires most buildings to have a fire safety plan. Acceptable fire safety plans must include detailed information for all aspects of fire safety for your building or property. The plan shall furnish the following information:
Safe and orderly evacuation procedure
Maintenance and cleanliness routines for fire prevention
Control mechanisms to minimize fire damage
The Ontario Fire Marshal determines the exact requirements for your building’s fire safety plan depending on the building type and occupancy rate. Though there are templates and standard formats available for outlining a fire safety plan, you still must construct one specifically for your building’s unique characteristics.
While they’re required to get your initial certificate of occupancy, your fire plan must be reviewed and updated at least every 12 months or whenever changes to the building use or structure affect fire safety. Even temporary changes to the building can affect fire safety and require temporary adjustments to your fire safety plan.
Areas for Regular Review
Any updates to your fire safety plan undergo the same considerations that involved its original creation. Your periodic audits should identify any variables that influence fire safety. Pay close attention to the following factors:
Entries and exits
Item storage and use
Connections for municipal water and the fire department
Periodic consideration of these issues is important, but if any construction or demolition occurs, your fire safety plan must be reviewed and updated to reflect the new building conditions. Carefully consider the ramifications of any building changes during fire safety plan audits.
Fire Safety Plan Objectives
When reviewing your fire safety plan, you should refer back to the plan’s original purpose since it always helps to keep the primary objectives in mind when considering possible alterations. Your building’s plan should consider the following issues:
Procedures to follow in the event of a fire
Activating the alarm
Contacting the fire department, key executives, or designated supervisory staff (emergency phone numbers should be adjacent to all telephones on site)
Occupant evacuation procedure following the sounding of a fire alarm
Evacuation of those in need of assistance
Controlling or extinguishing the fire if possible
Description and frequency of fire drills
Instruction, education, training, and organization for supervisory staff entrusted with fire safety
Instructions for staff for preventing and controlling any potential fire hazards that appear in the building
Any necessary additional educational or training programs
Maintenance of all fire safety systems
Diagrams and manuals for the models and location of all fire emergency systems
Description of any fire safety alternatives
Access for the fire department to any part of the building the fire may occur
Reasons for Periodic Fire Safety Plan Review
Fire safety plan review can seem like another burdensome bureaucratic nuisance, but it’s vitally important to protect both lives and property. Dangerous fires can occur in even the best-protected buildings. While you can’t eliminate the possibility of a fire, a proper fire safety plan gives your building and its occupants the best possible chance to minimize its destructive effects.
Many business owners and managers have a lot of responsibilities that prevent them from taking the time to design and review their fire safety plans. If you’re one of them, you might find it worthwhile to delegate that important responsibility to a trained professional.
Choosing a fire alarm system for your business doesn’t have to be a complex affair. There are several factors that you can consider to streamline the selection process.
In this post, we lay out six of these pivotal steps that will allow you to choose the right fire alarm system quickly.
1. Establish your fire safety needs
The first step in selecting an appropriate fire alarm system for your business is determining what your fire safety needs are.
This involves taking a look at the type of building you have, considering the number of people working within the premise, as well as taking into account provincial fire codes and regulations.
For example, a manufacturing warehouse dealing with flammable substances will require a completely different set of fire alarm systems for a hospital.
2. Consider the type of hazards present
Next, you will want to identify the types of hazards present within your building. Knowing this will assist you in determining just how many fire alarm systems you need as well as the placement of smoke detectors and other sensors.
You will want to find:
Sources of ignition
Sources of fuel
Source of oxygen
Sources of ignition include all heating components that could heat up to such a degree that they start a fire. Think of
Cooking elements like stove tops, microwaves, ovens
Hot surfaces – especially if you run a manufacturing business
Electrical, gas and oil-reliant heaters
Gas or liquid-propelled open-flame equipment
Matches, lighters, and cigarettes
For sources of fuel, you’re seeking items in the building that could burn easily if ignited. This material would provide the fuel to encourage a blaze. Consider
Common flammable materials such as cardboard and paper
Waste material from the office or industrial processes
Fabrics and soft furnishings
Sources of oxygen aren’t difficult to identify. The major oxygen source is of course air. However, if you store oxygen onsite in cylinders or piped systems this can present a very grave fire hazard. Welding businesses and hospitals are the biggest storers of compressed oxygen and therefore appropriate fire alarm systems must be installed in such places.
3. Research and compare alarm systems
What’s in the market in terms of alarm systems and smoke detectors? It’s hard to settle on a brand if you’re not sure what else is available to you.
That’s why doing a great deal of research is important. Careful planning and strategizing ensure that you get the best possible alarm systems at cost-effective prices.
There are two main types of fire alarm systems in the market today: addressable fire alarm systems and conventional fire alarm systems.
Between the two, addressable systems are more advanced, and able to quickly detect any changes in the atmosphere as well as pinpoint the exact location of trouble should it arise.
Conventional fire alarm systems are analogous, much simpler and make use of predetermined zones to activate alarms.
Once you have narrowed down your list to at least three choices, compare each of the different aspects of the fire alarm systems and their features. You want a set-up that will meet your needs based on the type of building you have and its occupancy level.
What should you be looking for?
The fire system’s reliability
The fire system’s ease of use
The fire system’s price
4. Select a system suitable for your building
Now that you’ve got a top three to choose from, how do you pick the one you should install?
Ideally, you go with the fire alarm system that’s appropriate for the size and layout of your building.
The fire alarm system you choose must also be compliant with Ontario’s provincial building and fire codes and your insurance requirements.
You want to keep in mind that you should probably opt for a system that can be easily expanded when necessary.
Consulting with a fire protection expert like Nutech Fire Prevention can go a long way in ensuring that your preferred system satisfies all these requirements.
5. Choose a skilled installation company
With your fire alarm system and smoke detectors picked out, it’s time to consider the installation process.
You’re going to want a fire company that can demonstrate experience installing fire alarm systems, especially in buildings such as yours.
A great way to find such companies is to call up local businesses and ask for referrals for the companies that installed their fire alarm systems.
Alternatively, you can do research online, call up each company and speak to their agent to see if they are the right match for your needs.
6. Fire system installation and maintenance
Lastly, you will want to think about the cost and future maintenance requirements of your chosen system. Will you have the necessary technical support if the system develops a fault?
Choosing a trusted and reputable supplier will ensure that your fire alarm system and smoke detectors are properly installed and maintained.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the right fire alarm system is a skill because you must consider so many factors. For example, a restaurant may require a comprehensive fire suppression system, while an office complex may need a less robust detection and alarm system.
By following these six steps, you can make sure that you’ve chosen a fire alarm system that will provide reliable protection for your business and help keep your customers and employees safe.
For businesses in Hamilton, Ontario needing assistance in selecting an appropriate fire alarm system, our specialists are here to help. Look no further than Nutech Fire Prevention.
In addition, we also provide, install and maintain emergency backup generators, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, exit lighting, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services, and design fire safety plans for businesses and residents of Hamilton.
Fire extinguishers are designed to fight small fires, providing a layer of protection for your employees and business property.
The most important thing you can do to assist in protecting your consumers, workers, and assets is to reduce the danger of a possible fire at your company.
So what steps should you take to reduce the likelihood of such an emergency from happening at your business?
In this post, we consider a few key fire extinguisher tips that every business owner should keep in mind when it comes to using fire extinguishers effectively.
1. Keep Fire Extinguisher Accessible and Clearly Labeled
When it comes to fire safety, having easy access to fire extinguishers is essential. Not only are fire extinguishers an important tool for putting out small fires, but they can also help to minimize the risk of fire spreading if a fire does occur.
To ensure fire extinguishers are always within reach, it is important to develop a fire prevention plan that includes adequate placement and labelling.
Consider placing fire extinguishers near potential fire hazards like electrical outlets or stove burners, as well as clearly marking their location with visible labels or signage. By taking this simple step, you can help to keep your workplace safe from fire.
2. Ensure Your Equipment Is Up to Date
When it comes to fire prevention for work, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the condition of your fire extinguisher. An out-of-date fire extinguisher can be ineffective during an emergency, putting you and your coworkers at risk.
Therefore, it is important to regularly check on the status of your fire extinguisher, making sure that all internal components are still working properly and that there are no visible signs of wear or damage. Issues you should take note of:
● A destroyed nozzle
● A leaking fire extinguisher
● Visible wear or damage to the fire extinguisher itself
● A missing lock pin
3. Fire Extinguishers Should Be Routinely Replaced
Fire prevention for work is something that every business owner should be actively thinking about. Unfortunately, fire extinguishers don’t last forever. Your fire prevention plan should assist you with the protocol surrounding fire extinguisher replacement times.
It’s important to regularly check the expiration date on your fire extinguishers and replace them as needed. Fire extinguishers regularly have a life expectancy of 10 years, however, this can vary depending upon the sort of fire extinguisher and how frequently it’s utilized.
If you’re not sure when your fire extinguishers need to be replaced, consult with a fire safety professional.
4. Test Your Fire Extinguisher
To ensure optimal fire prevention for work, you should regularly test your fire extinguishers to make sure they are all working properly. One way to test your fire extinguishers is to follow the PULSE acronym:
P for pulling the pin,
U for understanding how the lever works,
L for looking at how much pressure you’re applying,
S for squeezing the handle while keeping the nozzle pointed away from yourself, and
E for immediately discharging all of the foam or powder from the canister once it has been activated.
5. Fire Extinguishers Are Specifically Designed to Fight Different Kinds of Fires
Grease fires have different qualities than electrical fires, and therefore, require a different fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers will be labelled with the sort of fire they can put out. You need to get fire training from professionals. The three most common types of fire extinguishers include:
● Multipurpose ABC dry chemical extinguishers
This type of fire extinguisher is effective in Class A (ordinary), B (flammable liquid), and C (electrical) fires.
● Water mist fire extinguishers
Water mist fire extinguishers work by cooling the fire and removing the oxygen, which smothers the fire.
● CO2 fire extinguishers
CO2 fire extinguishers are more useful for Class B and C fires.
● Sodium chloride fire extinguishers
Sodium chloride fire extinguishers are only effective in Class C fires and can cause damage to electrical equipment.
6. After a Fire, the Extinguishers Must Be Recharged
Once a fire extinguisher has been used, it must be recharged by a certified professional. This is because the fire extinguisher will have lost some of its pressure after use and must be refilled with the appropriate fire suppression agent.
Failure to have your fire extinguisher recharged can result in a fire extinguisher that is not effective when you need it most, putting you and your coworkers at risk. By following these simple steps, you can help to keep your workplace safe from fire and ensure that you are always prepared for any emergency.
8. You Must Properly Dispose of Fire Extinguishers
As any business owner can tell you, fire safety is critical in every workplace. Having fire extinguishers on your premise is a critically key fire safety procedure.
However, fire extinguishers also need to be thoroughly maintained and disposed of properly. For nearly-empty fire extinguishers, start by squeezing the trigger to release any remaining pressure. Next, remove the discharge hose and discharge valve from the canister.
When it’s time to replace fire extinguishers, contact a professional. You can recycle old fire extinguishers or sell them online on sites like eBay or Craigslist if you remove the internal content.
Fire extinguishers are an essential part of any fire prevention plan. Remember to regularly check the status of your fire extinguisher and have it replaced if there is any damage. Be sure to communicate with your staff about fire safety procedures and provide fire training regularly.
For businesses in Waterloo, Ontario keen to discuss fire suppression systems with a specialist don’t hesitate to reach out to All Protect Systems.
We 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.