Archive for January, 2023

What Can You Expect When Installing a New Fire Alarm System?

Posted: January 20th, 2023

Fire alarms are a vital aspect of life safety for Ontario businesses. If you require a new fire alarm install in your commercial building, you probably want to know what to expect. There can be several reasons for installing a new fire alarm on your property, and these motivations determine the course of the installation.

New Construction

If you’re building a new facility, a new fire alarm system will merely be one of the many systems that make up the technology and life safety infrastructure of your commercial building. Fire alarm systems may be included in the overall construction project, but some companies prefer to contract the installation company themselves.

If you want to send the project out to bid, you need to contact some local companies and have them survey the premises and prepare a design and price quotation for your fire alarm. Then you evaluate the different proposals and choose the one that best suits your goals and budget. You don’t need to know everything about fire alarms to do this, because the design and plans must be approved by the Ontario Fire Marshal.

Once you select your approved vendor, they’ll work in tandem with the other trades to install the necessary conduit, wiring, and sensors, to meet code and provide the best possible protection for life and property safety. While there’s a temptation to go with the lowest bidder, it may not always be the most cost-effective choice in the long run. Sometimes, the cheapest option can wind up being more expensive in the long run as maintenance and false alarms become costly over time.

System Upgrade or Replacement

Building usage changes over time and so does technology. The fire alarm system you had installed years before may be malfunctioning, have become obsolete, or your building has changed enough to require a new fire alarm install. If this is your situation, you may be wondering what to expect.

If your building or building use has changed, you’re going to need to hire a professional to assess your property and perform a site survey. He’ll analyze the building spaces in terms of the fire classification rating and decide the quantity and types of sensors your system needs for the best possible safety protection. Section 2.1.2. of the Ontario Fire Code spells out the classifications of buildings or parts of a building according to major occupancy.

If your existing system has become obsolete or is prone to false alarms, you still need a professional site survey. Your existing fire alarm may not meet the newest code requirements, so the person performing the site survey has to measure building dimensions and make a record of all of the existing sensors on site. He delivers that information to a fire alarm engineer who designs a new system tailored to your needs based on the most efficient new technologies and code requirements.

If the installation company you choose has to perform the work during your normal working hours, you can expect some disruptions to your normal working routine. Conduit and new wiring require an installation crew and maybe even the use of a lift if your ceilings are tall enough. Once the conduit and wiring are finished, the crew needs to install, label, and test the new sensors and notification appliances.

The testing of fire alarm systems is necessarily loud and time-consuming, so you can expect a lot of frowns from the building’s inhabitants. Fortunately, the installation crew will eventually finish their task, and you’ll have a brand new state-of-the-art fire alarm that will protect lives and property for years to come.

Ontario area businesses have been relying on All Protect Systems, Inc for their fire alarm needs since 1996. Call them today to find out what they can do for you!

How Often Do You Need to Replace Your Fire Extinguisher?

Posted: January 18th, 2023

The question, “How often do I need to replace my fire extinguisher?” is one that’s frequently asked by both home and business owners.

Fire extinguishers are an integral part of your residential and commercial fire prevention plan and fire safety in general. But how long do they last? And how can you tell if your extinguisher is still in working condition?

Here’s everything you need to know about how and when to replace your fire extinguisher. Our top fire extinguisher tips.

Fire Extinguisher Life Expectancy

So, how long do fire extinguishers last? What life expectancy should you prepare for?

The best bet is to check with the manufacturer of the fire extinguisher. However, a general rule of thumb that’s often used in the industry is:

Rechargeable fire extinguishers have a 10 to 12-year life expectancy, while non-rechargeable (aka disposable) fire extinguishers can be replaced after every 10 years.

But, this isn’t by no means a strict and binding principle as the type of extinguisher also has a bearing on the frequency of replacement. For example;

·         Wet chemical fire extinguishers may be replaced after testing every five years.

·       Dry chemical fire extinguishers may be replaced after six years. 

If dry chemical fire extinguishers are able to reach their 12th year, they are required in that year to undergo hydrostatic testing.

All the same, when it comes to replacing your fire extinguisher you can’t just play it by the number of years that have passed. In addition, there are other ways to know if it’s time for a change. Let’s explore some of these.

To Replace Your Fire Extinguisher or Not?

What are some of the other ways to determine if it’s time to replace your fire extinguisher?

A visual inspection can help you determine if the canister has been damaged in any way and should therefore be immediately replaced. Signs it’s time to replace the fire extinguisher include:

·         Leaking of the agent

·         Visible corrosion and or rust

·         Broken fire extinguisher handle

·         Missing sticker

·         The fire extinguisher was used to extinguish a fire

·         An accidental fire extinguisher discharge occurred

·         A cracked nozzle, hose, or one that’s clogged with debris

·         Unsealed and or missing locking pin on the extinguisher’s handle

Are there any additional things that can invalidate your fire extinguisher? Yes!

What Voids a Fire Extinguisher?

A fire extinguisher’s lifespan can be shortened by any of the following:

1. Incorrect Storage

There is a right and a wrong way to store your fire extinguisher. And contrary to popular practice, fire extinguishers should ALWAYS be mounted upright.

What happens if you store your pressurized or non-pressurized fire extinguisher on its side or at an angle? This may interfere with the canister’s discharge system rendering it useless when you do need to use it.

2. Temperature Extremes

Fire extinguishers aren’t immune to temperature extremes. In fact, while fire extinguishers don’t typically explode when they overheat (because of the safety release valve which allows them to discharge their agent), they can get damaged and stop working properly.

Excessive temperatures above 120 degrees have been known to impair the elastomeric seals thereby decreasing the life span of the extinguisher.

When stored in cold temperatures (below -40 degrees), fire extinguisher valves and hoses have been known to crack. Some extinguishers might even freeze. Humid spaces must also be avoided as they can also lead to rust and corrosion.

3.   Damage to the Canister

Has the fire extinguisher been punctured, suffered a crushing blow, or been tampered with in any way perhaps through vandalism?

Each of these things can ruin the integrity of the fire extinguisher rendering it faulty and up for replacement.

You may want to have a qualified technician assess the fire extinguisher before replacing it, however. It may simply need to be recharged after all. But if significant damage has occurred to the body then the extinguisher will need to be completely replaced.

Fire Extinguisher Routine Maintenance

Simply because your extinguisher doesn’t require yearly replacement is not a reason to avoid routine maintenance.

When it comes to fire prevention for work, businesses are mandated to schedule professional annual fire extinguisher inspections. This is good fire safety best practice.

During the professional maintenance inspection, fire specialists will check the physical state of the canisters as well as verify the integrity of seals and or tamper indicators. A new tamper seal may be installed and dated by the technician.

The fire expert will also verify that the fire extinguisher’s operating instructions are clearly visible and legible.

During routine maintenance, the technicians may recommend that the fire extinguishers be recharged. This typically happens every six years for rechargeable extinguishers. Recharging is vital as you want the chemicals within the fire extinguisher to be fully charged and have the pressure needed to discharge when needed.

Ongoing monthly maintenance may be done in-house by your own employees. All it involves is checking the pressure gauge to ensure that the gauge needle hasn’t gone below the ideal safe zone. If the needle is outside the green zone then the pressure within is too low and it’s time for a replacement.

Wrap Up

While fire extinguishers don’t have an expiration date there are things that nullify them and it’s important to be wary of these so you can replace or recharge on time.

Are you ready to schedule your fire extinguisher inspection? Our All Protect technicians are on hand to inspect your fire extinguishers and guarantee they are in optimal working condition.

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. 

Request a free quote today.

What You Need to Know About Fire Safety in 2023

Posted: January 18th, 2023

Fire safety is a big part of staying safe in the event of a fire. Ontario recorded one of its worst years of fire-related deaths in 2021 with 124 cases. 2022 proved to be just as deadly with 102 deaths reported by October.

The constant threat of both residential and commercial fires means you have to be informed and take steps to learn about the latest fire safety guidelines and regulations.

That’s why in this article, we discuss fire safety in 2023 including trends and best practices.

Best Practice #1
Install Smoke Detectors and Routinely Service Them

The first step to preventing major fire disasters is to have working smoke detectors in your home and workplace. Once you’ve installed the smoke alarms and detectors, ensure you routinely check and replace batteries as needed.

This is absolutely pivotal as smoke detectors and alarms save lives. Statistics show that between 2011 and 2022, at least 14% of unintentional residential fire-related deaths transpired in homes without a smoke alarm (8%) or where the alarm was non-functional (6%).

Best Practice #2
Develop and Practice Your Evacuation Plan

Do all the members of your household know what to do in the event of a fire? On top of having functional smoke alarms, you’ve also got to have a strategic escape plan.

It’s also crucial that you regularly practice the evacuation plan. It must be a comprehensive scheme that also highlights things like where the designated meeting point outside your house is.

During your practice runs, train everyone to familiarise themself with the different ways to get out of the house and or office and how to open exit doors or windows.

Best Practice #3
Keep Flammable Materials Away From Ignition Sources

Do you know what’s the most dangerous thing you could do in your house or office? Keeping flammable materials close to heat sources. This is a recipe for disaster. Think of when you leave dish towels next to a gas burner or an aerosol can of perfume next to a lit candle. That’s a fuel and an ignition source, and under the right conditions, they have the potential to burn your house or workplace down within minutes.

So, take a quick look around the house and workplace. Do you have billowing curtains that need to be secured? Furniture that could be an easy fuel if a candle or cigarette were to accidentally fall on them?

Whatever has the potential to catch fire should be kept at least three feet (91cm) away from ignition sources like heaters, stoves, and candles. The area near these heat sources should also be left clutter-free and clean.

Best Practice #4
Store a Fire Extinguisher in Your Kitchen

Do you know in which room most fires tend to start? If you said, the kitchen, you’re correct. When you’re preparing food, avoid leaving it unattended. We recommend also keeping a fire extinguisher in your home.

Grease fires are extremely dangerous and can spread quite fast. Ensure you purchase a Class B fire extinguisher for the kitchen as it’s particularly suited to put out fires that involve gases, flammable liquids, cooking oils, and grease.

Best Practice #5
Avoid Leaving Cigarettes and Candles Unattended

For a fire to start, three things are involved: a fuel source (e.g. clothing, furniture, flammable liquid), oxygen (which is readily available in the air), and an ignition source (e.g. candles and cigarettes).

If you’re a smoker, be careful where you smoke and how you dispose of your finished cigarette. It’s not enough to just casually throw it on the ground and stomp it out. Make sure it’s properly snuffed out because it only takes one gust of wind to carry that smouldering cigarette to fuel and start a blaze.

If you like lighting candles around your house, never leave them in rooms unattended. Light the candle and keep it in a place where you can keep your eye on it.

Best Practice #6
Understand the Different Types of Workplace Fire Hazards

With remote work slowly becoming a thing of the past and most employees returning full-time to the office, it’s key we take time to address workplace fire hazards. Places of business also have fire safety procedures that you’re supposed to know and follow.

While it is the duty of the company you work for to create a safe working environment, as an employee the onus is on you to learn workplace fire safety best practices.

You want to know what to do and where to go in case of a fire. So, take time to know where the fire exits nearest your desk or office area are and the location of fire extinguishers. This should become easier to remember when you all practice the evacuation plan as a team.

Best Practice #7
Remove Obstructions to Exits

The last tip we have is to keep all exits unobstructed. No objects should block the doors preventing easy access to them. Hallways and stairways must be cleared of all clutter.

It is the employer’s duty to make sure that all egress means are clearly marked and luminescent safety signs are mounted to guide evacuees out of the building should there be a power cut.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, fire safety in 2023 should be a top priority for everyone – parents, homeowners, directors of care homes/nursing facilities, and property managers. By following the guidelines, trends and best practices outlined above, you can help to reduce the risk of fire in your home and workplace.

If you’re a business owner thinking about fire safety training for your team, we want to highlight the necessity of also being aware of provincial-specific fire safety regulations. If you’re unsure about what these are, our team here at Nutech Fire Prevention is ready to assist with more information.

That’s not all we do however, as 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.

Request a free quote today.

Looking for more insight? Check out these previous posts:

·   How to Plan a Fire Evacuation Plan for Your Business

·    How to Quickly Stop a Fire in the Workplace

·    Fire Safety Training Courses for Canada Businesses

Image: Freepik

How To Quickly Stop a Fire in the Workplace

Posted: January 3rd, 2023

The threat of fire is ever-present no matter how many preventative steps you take. With that said, fire training should be a top priority.

It’s imperative for your personnel to know how to stop a fire should one break out.

In this post, we’re going to look at the basics of how fires start, what are the common ignition sources, and the top ways you can quickly snuff out a fire before it gets out of control.

So without further ado, let’s dive right on in.

The Science Behind Fire

How do fires start?

Three elements are needed in order for a fire to start. These are:

·         An ignition source (e.g. lighter, match, sparks from an electrical appliance)

·         A fuel source (e.g. paper, textiles, flammable liquids)

·         An oxygen source (readily available from the air)

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to get a fire going and it is for this reason that there are fire codes and building regulations.

These statutory instruments are designed to create safe working environments and encourage internal fire training.

Now that we know how fires start, what are some of the most common workplace fire causes that you need to keep an eye out for?

Common Workplace Fire Causes

Fire experts tell us that the leading causes of fires in business premises and commercial properties are:

1. Malfunctioning appliances and leads

2. Defective fuel supply

3. Incorrect use of devices, appliances and equipment

4. Leaving things close to heat sources

1. Malfunctioning appliances and leads

Damaged, defective, and faulty devices and appliances are major ignition culprits. Examples include:

·         Old, worn-out, frayed electrical wiring

·         Overloaded sockets

·         Obsolete equipment and appliances

·         Faulty plugs and appliances

Prevention advice

Routine checks for electrical wiring integrity should be conducted regularly. Any identified damaged wires should be replaced immediately as these pose a fire hazard.

A qualified electrician should also examine appliances and Portable Appliances Tests (PATs) carried out where necessary.

Because fire prevention in the workplace is a team effort, employees need to also be reminded not to overload sockets.

2. Defective fuel supply

We’ve seen that fuel is a core requirement needed to start a fire, but what exactly constitutes a defective fuel source?

Common examples include: 

·         Damaged gas pipelines    

·         Faulty electrical cables

·         Incorrect storage of flammable liquids like petrol

Prevention advice

It is mandatory to schedule routine servicing of fuel supplies. Certified gas leak experts should come in on a regular basis to check the integrity of internal and external gas pipelines.

Similarly, qualified engineers should test and check electrical cables all over the premises.

Flammable fuels at the workplace must be stored according to the instructions spelled out in the company’s fire safety plan.

3. Incorrect use of devices, appliances and equipment

With numerous connected devices and equipment in an office, the risk of fire increases exponentially. And here are the most common ways appliances can cause fires:

·         Spilling liquids on electrical devices

·         Leaving ovens, toasters, and microwaves unattended

·         Leaving electrical heaters on

·         Allowing devices to overcharge

Prevention advice

Any liquids spilled on a device must be immediately cleaned up. 

Ovens, microwaves, and toasters must be wiped down routinely to remove grease and dirt. Ensure microwave-safe crockery is used when heating up food.

Before leaving the office, sockets must be unplugged where possible.

4. Leaving things close to heat sources

It’s easy to place items close to a heat source and become absent-minded and forget, making them an easy fire hazard. Here are typical office examples:

·         Leaving paper towels or clothes next to portable heaters

·         Placing tin foil in the microwave

·         Placing devices that need ventilation on non-solid surfaces and in spaces with little air

Prevention advice

Any electrical device has the capacity to generate heat. Therefore, be mindful of what you place next to these heat sources.

Always make sure computers, TVs, or heat-generating appliances have plenty of ventilation. Place computers, even laptops, on hard surfaces and avoid leaving them on couches.

Top 5 Ways to Put Out Workplace Fire

We know from the science of how fires start, that fires are sustained by some type of fuel and oxygen.

In order to put out the fire, we must first understand what type of fire we’re dealing with so we know the best fire suppression tools to use. Here are some of our fire extinguisher tips!

1. How to Put Out Class A Fires

Class A fires are those involving clothing, paper, plastic or wood.

In order to put out a workplace fire involving any of these elements, you will need a foam or water-based extinguisher.

2. How to Put Out Class B Fires

Class B fires are those involving flammable liquids such as alcohol, petrol, gases, or paint.

These fires must never be extinguished with a water extinguisher but instead with a carbon dioxide, powder or foam fire extinguisher.

The nozzle of the fire extinguisher must be aimed at the base of these types of fires to avoid a flare-up.

3. How to Put Out Class C Fires

Class C fires involve electricity and as such need special care.

A dry powder or carbon dioxide fire extinguisher is deployed. A blanket may be used to smother any lingering flames.

If it is safe enough to unplug any connected devices do so. Alternatively, switch off power to the electrical devices at the main switch.

4. How to Put Out Class D Fires

Class D fires are rare and involve the ignition of metals such as aluminum, potassium, and sodium. Their suppression expressly requires a dry powder fire extinguisher.

5. How to Put Out Class K Fires

Class K fires typically occur in commercial kitchens where food is prepared using vegetable or animal fats and oils. Such fires warrant a wet chemical extinguisher.

Best Practice: Always Call Emergency Services

Evacuate employees to a safe assembly point and if you suspect that you cannot control the fire, be sure to immediately call the fire department for help. This is particularly true in the case of electrical fires. 

The Bottom Line

Accidental workplace fires can be stopped before they turn into full-blazes by implementing any of the best practices mentioned above.

As fire safety experts we are convinced of the importance of educating your employees about fire safety. If you don’t have a current fire prevention plan and would like help to develop one, contact All Protect.

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. 

Furthermore, if you are looking to upgrade your current fire systems we make recommendations for fire protection solutions that fit your budget and your needs.

Request a free quote today.