Fire hazards are undoubtedly one of the greatest threats to any rental property. The damage and loss of life that can accompany fire incidents can be catastrophic.
Figures from the National Fire Incident Database (NFID) show that in 2014 there were on average 19,062 structure fires annually, of which 74% were residential, resulting in 170 fire-related deaths and 1,297 casualties.
Faced with such statistics, property managers have an important role and responsibility when it comes to protecting tenants and securing their investments from fire hazards.
The Case for a Multi-Faceted Fire Protection Approach
Property managers typically oversee several buildings. Generally, no two buildings are the same, meaning each rental property necessitates its own unique fire protection plan. This makes things slightly complex. Therefore, in order to effectively reduce fire hazards in rental properties, property managers must consider a range of factors including:
- The type of building
- The age of the property
- The number of occupants
- All possible ignition sources
To streamline the process, we’ve put together critical strategies for safeguarding rental properties.
Strategy #1 Installation of Fire Detection Devices
Fire alarms, smoke alarms, and heat detectors are just some of the fire detection devices prudent property managers are installing. The fact of the matter is that in Ontario, the Fire Code and Building Code also mandate the presence of these fire protection systems in rental properties.
Of note, smoke alarms should be mounted in common areas, kitchens, bedrooms, and hallways of rental units. Regular maintenance of these devices and an annual inspection by a professional fire specialist like Nutech Fire Protection is highly recommended. Faulty and non-functional elements should be replaced as soon as possible. With routine maintenance, however, smoke alarms can last for years and in theory can be replaced after every 10 years.
Strategy #2 Conducting Routine Rental Property Evaluations
One of the fastest ways to prevent potential fires is by taking precautions to identify fire hazards. In doing so, you’re then able to take the necessary steps to reduce fire risk by removing said hazards such as incorrectly stored flammable materials, frayed electrical cables, and trash.
During your inspection, keep an eye out for dangerous tenant behaviour like smoking in restricted areas. If no proper smoking areas have been designated, this is an appropriate time to establish them.
Strategy #3 Taking Time to Educate Building Occupants
Tenants also have a part to play in mitigating risk and staying safe while living in the rental property. Fire protection in rental properties is a collaborative effort that requires everyone’s involvement. With that said property managers should therefore take steps to furnish tenants with information regarding fire safety.
Teach occupants how to evacuate the premises in case of a fire and also how to use fire suppression devices like fire extinguishers. Clear instructions must be given to tenants about how to address fire hazards and what to do if gas/smoke/fire is detected.
Strategy #4 Putting Together a Thorough Emergency Response Plan
The emergency plan is designed as an effective response tool that,
- outlines evacuation routes and procedures,
- details protocols for responding to fires, (including clear instructions for tenants on what to do in the event of an incident or other emergency)
- highlights meeting places outside the building and,
- provides emergency contact information.
Such plans need to be well-thought-out to complement the unique aspects of the rental unit. As such, it’s within your best interests as a property manager to engage the services of a fire specialist like Nutech Fire Protection to assist with developing suitable emergency plans. We factor in the building layout, occupancy level, and any identified fire hazards for a custom plan.
Strategy #5 Investing in Fire Suppression Mechanisms
One surefire way to protect your investment is by investing in fire suppression mechanisms such as fire sprinklers, fire doors, fire hoses, and fire extinguishers.
Fire protection experts will be able to look over your rental property and help you determine what’s needed to adequately secure your assets.
Strategy #6 Building Using Fire-Resistant Materials
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Opting for fire-resistant materials from the start can work in your favour should a fire incident break out because these substances are designed to slow down the spread of fire thereby limiting potential damage.
Examples of fire-resistant materials that property managers should consider are gypsum board, brick, stucco, and concrete. Fire-resistant glass windows, fire-resistant insulation, and fire-resistant doors are also worth a mention.
Strategy #7 Adhering to Building Codes and Regulations
Building codes and regulations exist for a reason. It’s not to complicate your life but to safeguard your investment and tenants. Are your rental properties up to standard and adhering to applicable Hamilton building codes and regulations?
If you’re planning on any upgrades, additions and renovations, make sure that all work respects provincial building codes and is compliant with fire regulations.
It’s worthwhile to also consider implementing a strict no-smoking policy (except within approved spaces). Let the policy carry with it hefty fines and eviction warnings. These can serve to deter bad behaviour.
Fire drills to ensure that tenants are aware of fire safety protocols can prove to be a game-changer in the event of an incident. With fire safety training people will know how to react, instead of panic, which lowers the risk of injuries and fatalities. This also increases the odds that small fires can be contained before turning into blazes that could destroy an entire rental property.
The Bottom Line
Protecting your investment doesn’t have to be difficult. Armed with the key strategies highlighted above and assisted by Nutech Fire Protection, an experienced fire expert, property managers in Hamilton can take steps to preserve rental properties from fire hazards today.
Whether you’re in need of smoke alarm installations, monthly and annual fire suppression system maintenance or inspection, require guidance with developing an emergency plan, or assistance understanding building codes and regulations, our team is here to help.
We also offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, exit lighting, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.
Request a free quote today.
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