You don’t want to find out during a fire that your current sprinkler system isn’t functional.
Fire sprinkler systems are a major part of a building’s fire protection framework. Despite their pride of place as one of the basic fire prevention mechanisms, people rarely ever think about them.
In fact, it’s probable that building owners only ever give sprinklers a second thought when there is a leakage, it’s time to schedule a fire inspection or sporadic training drill for employees.
Well, we’re here to remind you of the pivotal role your fire sprinkler systems play and that you should be taking proper care of them.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in and discuss the top tell-tale signs that indicate it might be time for your business to get a new fire sprinkler system.
5 Tell-Tale Signs It’s Time To Invest in a New Fire Sprinkler System
Sign #1 You Don’t Remember When The Last Inspection Was
Make no mistake: If you can’t remember when the last fire inspection took place – there is a problem.
So, how often should your building be getting routine fire sprinkler checks?
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as often as once every quarter. This means in a year, there should be on average one inspection every three months at the very least.
NFPA codes also stress that maintenance checks should be carried out on a weekly basis. For example, checking control valve positioning and making sure valves are in an ‘open’ position.
If you have no idea when the last inspection was, now is probably a very good time to have a certified fire professional come in and take a look.
Sign #2 The Existing Sprinkler System is Old and Outdated
Do you know how old your fire sprinkler system is? Are you aware of what type of fire sprinkler system you even have? Most business owners don’t know the answers to these questions off the top of their heads.
You see, the reason it’s important to know how old your system is and what type you have, is so that it can be replaced within the recommended timeline.
The life expectancy of an average dry system is 10 to 15 years, while that of a wet system is typically 15 to 25 years. Systems that carry nitrogen may outlast both dry and wet systems.
If your system is already more than 10 years old, it’s time to really consider an update because in this last decade, the fire protection industry has incorporated a wide range of innovative technologies into the newer fire sprinkler models.
If you want access to the latest features, efficiency, and peace of mind, it’s worth the effort of reaching out to a licensed professional to discuss your building fire protection needs.
Sign #3 Your Business Size Has Changed Over The Years
Perhaps you have more employees working in your building than when you first installed the existing fire sprinkler system? More often than not, fire prevention systems are tailored to fit in with the need – i.e. the number of people on the premises who have to be protected.
The more people you have, there is a corresponding need for a fire sprinkler system with a wider reach. So whatever system you currently have must be modified to accommodate the increasing number of people on site.
This doesn’t apply merely to your sprinklers but to the number of fire extinguishers and smoke alarms you have within the building.
Sign #4 Your Current Fire Sprinkler Requires Too Much Maintenance
Are you constantly on the phone scheduling another service call? Are you finding yourself spending a whole lot of money on touch-ups and maintenance?
We’ll be the first to tell you that if you find yourself needing to call in fire inspection teams for service calls – this is as clear a sign as any that it’s time to ditch the problematic fire sprinkler system. It’s costly for you to keep up with such service calls and the recurring maintenance fees.
Whether it’s because of leaks or there is a defect somewhere in the system, this should be a cause for concern on your part. Instead of having to worry about when the next breakdown is going to occur, give yourself the peace of mind you deserve by simply getting the old system replaced.
Sign #5 Your Building Has Been Modified or Upgraded
Has your building been modified or changed in some way, shape or form since the previous inspection? If so then the fire sprinkler systems also need to be changed in order to match the new building’s specs.
This is particularly true if you have knocked down or added new walls; remodeled the space; changed the use of the building and or the number of people now occupying the building has increased.
The fire sprinklers must be inspected to ensure they cover the new building adequately and that the modified design in no way affects the building’s basic fire prevention model and is capable of offering sufficient fire protection.
When else should your fire sprinkler system be fully retested? When a change has been wrought to:
· The backflow
· The water meter
· The public water supply system
Invest in a New Fire Sprinkler System
Fire risk is real and its ramifications can be disastrous and even deadly.
By taking the initiative to install new fire sprinkler systems, you are protecting both your business and your employees – not to mention being compliant with both the National Building Code and National Fire Code.
Get one of our All Protect Systems experts to come in and carry out a comprehensive fire inspection to assess your risk level.
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.
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.
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.
Back in February 2019, a man running two companies contracted to offer fire protection services to three buildings in Toronto was convicted and fined $67,500.
Why? Well, during a fire hazard audit a series of unsafe practices were uncovered including – failure to inspect, test and repair building fire safety systems.
At this point, you might be a little concerned about being in violation of the Ontario Fire Code. No need to worry, in this post, we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to include in your fire hazard audit checklist.
But first, what is a fire hazard audit?
What is a Fire Hazard Audit and Fire Hazard Audit Checklist?
A fire hazard audit, also known as a fire safety audit, is an inspection of your building carried out by a fire inspector. During this investigation, your fire safety plan and other documents related to managing hazards and fire on your premises will be evaluated.
A fire hazard audit checklist is simply a list of points to be considered during the audit. A typical checklist will request documents containing information about:
· Your fire risk assessments
· Action plans generated after fire risk assessments
· Emergency fire plans for your building
· Fire prevention and protection measures
· Company fire training courses, programs, and procedures
· Evidence of your fire safety maintenance plans – a.k.a Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM)
· Proof of regular fire system testing
Fire systems that must be examined on a routine basis that auditors will want to see the documentation for include (but are not limited to):
After the fire hazard audit, the findings will be compiled into a report. The audit inspector will create a list of recommendations for non-compliant areas and remedial actions that must be taken to rectify problems.
The inspector might also give enforcement notices depending on the severity of the non-compliance issues. Deadlines on when these breaches need to be resolved will also be stated. Failure to fix said problems can lead to prosecution.
Now that we know what a fire hazard audit and a fire hazard audit checklist are, here is why they are so critical.
The Importance of Fire Hazard Audits
There is no more effective tool to help establish fire safety standards within a building than a fire hazard audit. Fire safety audits are pivotal in helping to identify potential hazards. Here are some reasons why fire hazard audits are important:
1.Identifies weaknesses in fire safety equipment
All fire safety equipment documentation will be thoroughly assessed during a fire audit.
Using this information and their own evaluation, the auditor will be able to point out any weaknesses with the fire safety equipment that needs to be rectified as soon as possible.
2.Assesses employee fire safety knowledge
Prevention is indeed always better than cure where a fire is concerned. Fire hazard audits will reveal how much employees know about fire safety and highlight areas that need to be re-taught.
· How much do building occupants know about fire safety?
· In the event of a fire incident, can they calmly and effectively find their way out to the safe meeting place?
· Do they know at least two ways out of the building?
These are just sample questions the fire inspector may pose to employees as part of the fire hazard audit. The auditor may also want to see records of any mock fire drills conducted.
3.Evaluates your fire safety plan
Fire safety plans are a primary resource that provides tailored information about a particular building’s fire safety management objectives.
It is a document that details the protocol to follow during emergencies, lays out site safety regulations, and discusses the various means of egress.
It’s not uncommon for fire inspectors to discover that fire safety plans are outdated and at times haven’t taken into account changes in commercial use or recent building refurbishments.
So now that we’re aware as to why fire hazard audits are important, how often should you have a fire hazard audit conducted?
When to Schedule a Fire Hazard Audit
According to the law, people responsible for buildings (e.g. property managers, building owners and employers) are required to protect building occupants.
They are mandated to follow and implement fire safety regulations. Failure to comply can lead to hefty penalties, fines, and sometimes even prison.
The Ontario Fire Code requires fire hazard audits to be conducted on all commercial premises in addition to communal areas within residential properties.
How often should those responsible for buildings schedule fire hazard audits? The recommendation is at least once a year.
However, if the building is renovated, altered in any way, or commercial use changes, it is imperative that a fire hazard audit be commissioned as soon as renovation work is completed.
A fire hazard audit is just one cog in your fire safety efforts – but a very important part. As a building owner or employer, you have a legal responsibility to create safer working spaces for your employees and do everything you can to mitigate fire incidents.
For a fire hazard audit to be comprehensive, it must include examinations of fire safety documentation and discussions with employees regarding fire safety to see how much they know about the topic. This can only be done by a licensed fire specialist.
If you are based in Ontario and you don’t recall when the last time you had a fire hazard audit was, then it’s probably time to book an appointment with local fire experts All Protect Systems.
In addition, we also offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.
“…portable or movable apparatus used to put out a small fire by directing onto it a substance that cools the burning material, deprives the flame of oxygen, or interferes with the chemical reactions occurring in the flame.”
Because of their portable nature, the majority of fire extinguishers consist of small tanks featuring a nozzle that allows the compressed substance within the tank to pass through when the handle is squeezed.
There are seven fire extinguishers distinguished by the substance within the tank:
· Water extinguishers
· Carbon-dioxide extinguishers
· Dry chemical extinguishers
· Liquid gas extinguishers
· Chemical foam extinguishers
· Dry powder extinguishers
· Wet chemical extinguishers
You may be wondering why there are so many different types of fire extinguishers.
Well, in order to best answer this question, we would need to first explain the five classes of fire that exist.
The 5 Classes of Fires
Fire isn’t equal and it’s important to understand this because it determines which fire extinguisher you’re going to use to put out the fire.
Fire is classified into five categories depending on the material that’s alight or the substance that is burning.
Class A Fires: For a fire to be characterized as Class A, the following materials are involved: cloth, rubber, paper, plastics, and wood
Class B Fires: For a fire to be characterized as Class B, the following substances are the main culprits: gas, lacquer, oil, paint
Class C Fires: For a fire to be classified as Class C, the source of the fire is generally electrical in nature involving appliances, motors, power tools etc.
Class D Fires: Occur when combustible metals are involved. Examples of such metals are sodium, magnesium, potassium, and titanium
Class K Fires: These types of fires involve combustible oils, grease or fats that are used in cooking
Now that we’re familiar with the different fire classes, we can appreciate the types of fire extinguishers that exist and the following fire extinguisher tips.
Water-Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class A fires, have a long-range and empty within 60 seconds.
Carbon Dioxide Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class B and C fires, have a short-range, empties within 10 to 20 seconds.
Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class B, C, and some Class A fires. Have a moderate range and empties within 10 to 25 seconds.
Liquid Gas Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class B, C, and some Class A fires. Have short-range and empties in 10 seconds.
Chemical Foam Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class A and B fires. Have a moderate range and empties in 10 to 30 seconds.
Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class D fires.
Wet Chemical Fire Extinguishers: Put out Class K fires.
Fire Extinguishers for your Business and or Home
So, coming full circle to our original question, “What fire extinguisher is ideal for your business?” we’re going to answer this with a few examples.
Looking at the different types of fire extinguishers that exist we can clearly see that the correct fire extinguisher for your business depends on the type of business you have.
For example, if you’re operating a commercial kitchen (a restaurant or a fast food outlet), you run a high risk for cooking oil fires or grease fires. Therefore, Class K wet chemical fire extinguishers should form the bulk of fire extinguishers on your premises.
If your business is pharmaceutical, laboratory-based or manufacturing in nature, you’re going to want carbon dioxide fire extinguishers that can put out Class B and C fires.
For industrial sites that are at high risk of Class D fires because of flammable metals, sodium chloride fire extinguishers should be the mainstay.
Paper mills, libraries, clothing shops, woodworks, and businesses dealing with plastics and rubber would do well to install fire extinguishers designed to put out Class A fires.
So, selecting a fire extinguisher for your business is largely based on consideration of the nature of your business and the associated fire risks.
Are you looking for fire and life safety solutions in Waterloo, Ontario?
Would you like to discuss fire extinguisher options for your business as well as best practices for fire prevention for home?
Then look no further than All Protect Systems, 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.
Understanding fire safety practices is crucial to protecting your workplace and home.
Every year, thousands of businesses and residential properties are destroyed by fires that could have been easily prevented. You don’t have to become a statistic.
Whether you’re about to build or already have your premises, these fire safety practices are worth knowing about.
In fact, by following these five basic fire safety practices you dramatically reduce fire threats. That’s why educating yourself and being proactive in fire safety is so important.
So what are these fire safety practices you need to be aware of?
Let’s get started.
Fire Safety Practice #1 Measures Adopted During the Building’s Design Phase
Contrary to popular belief, fire safety does not begin with the installation of fire prevention systems.
Fire safety is an inbuilt function that’s conceptualized during the design phase of the building. And thanks to the National Building Code, OSHA standards, and provincial Fire Codes, you can be assured of the fire integrity of contemporary buildings.
This primordial fire safety practice takes into consideration the building’s design aspects. The types of materials used in construction in conjunction with the construction style. Each element is carefully considered as architects ask questions such as:
· How well can this material prevent the spread of fire?
· Does this building design encourage the fire to spread?
· Can smoke be trapped in the building if we use these materials?
The second fire practice is closely linked to this first one and has to do with the measures adopted during the construction phase.
Fire Safety Practice #2 Measures integrated during the construction of the building phase
Modern buildings are constructed to meet an acceptable standard of fire safety while reducing associated risks from smoke and heat.
The goal of the fire prevention measures integrated during the construction phase is to mitigate the risk of injury or death of workers, building occupants and firefighters in the event of a fire.
As such, designers and building contractors, have a responsibility to ensure that:
· All building designs incorporate a sufficient number of fire escape routes
· All buildings are furnished with appropriate fire doors and fire barriers
· Premises are designed with fire separation compartmentalization in mind
· Evacuees have protected areas to flee to in the event of a fire
And what happens when the building is now ready for use?
Fire Safety Practice #3 Measures put in place to prevent ignition of substances
When a building is ready for use, there are still protocols that must be adhered to in order to prevent fire risk. We’re referring here to the storage of combustible materials and the safeguarding of potential ignition sources.
Where combustible materials are concerned, care must be followed in terms of:
· Ensuring the quantities of flammable materials kept on-site do not exceed the maximum allowed capacities as regulated by law
· Making sure combustible materials are stored correctly especially volatile substances such as oxygen cylinders, gases, and flammable liquids
· Clearing rubbish, removing it periodically and not allowing it to accumulate on-site
For ignition sources, attention must be paid to:
· Reduce, eliminate and control all possible ignition sources which are on the premises.
· Plant equipment inclusive of electrical machinery and or engines which should be monitored and not allowed to overheat
· Employees who smoke making provision for them and creating smoking-specific areas for them
Fire Safety Practice #4 Measures put in place to limit the development and effects of fire
Fire safety practices also include the measures designed to limit the development of fire, slow the spread of fire and draw attention to a fire when it breaks out. We can talk about fire doors, fire alarm systems as well as sprinklers.
Fire doors are particularly important as they play several roles. Firstly, they help to contain a fire stopping it from spreading to other areas of the building. Furthermore, they can also be used to protect escape routes along stairs and corridors.
Lastly, sprinkler systems. These fire safety systems are meant to extinguish fires in their early stages as well as control any incidental occurrences. They also help to significantly reduce the potential losses suffered in the event of a fire.
Fire Safety Practice #5 Measures taught to occupants of the building
The aforementioned fire safety practices are great but there’s one final element that must be discussed – fire safety plans.
It doesn’t matter how many fire exits you have or how carefully the escape routes have been designed if the building occupants haven’t been taught the fire safety plan.
You see, the fire safety plan is the document that contains all these fire safety practices as well as information on how to evacuate the building.
It’s not a document that is simply created and tossed somewhere in the back. It’s one that must be known by each employee so they know how to escape, protect themselves, and alert fire authorities if a fire occurs.
Knowing these fire safety practices allows you to make the necessary adjustments needed to improve your surroundings.
These fire safety practices may not be the easiest to implement – but when taken seriously and acted upon – they can take your home and or business fire safety up by several notches.
Using these practices can boost your fire prevention efforts.
For homeowners and businesses in Waterloo, Ontario keen to discuss fire safety best practices 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.
Let’s talk about fire protection and basic fire prevention for your business.
What can you do to make your business fire-proof? Having your company premises fireproofed is certainly a worthwhile investment.
Fire is a risk and one that you need to be sufficiently prepared for. That’s why we’ve taken the time to put together a series of preventative steps you can take to help secure your business.
Let’s get into it and begin with probably one of the most important fire protection tips….
Preventative Measure #1 Create a Defensible Space
Demarcating defensible space can be difficult if your building sits within a built-up space and is adjacent to other buildings.
However, if your business premises are a detached building one of the best preventative strategies you can adopt is creating defensible space.
Now just what is defensible space you’re asking?
Defensible space refers to the landscape surrounding your property that can stop the advancement of rogue fires.
Defensible space also has a double benefit as it provides easy and safe access to your property to firefighters.
How do you create a defensible space?
Firstly, it’s good to know that there are three types of defensible space: the immediate zone (Zone 1), intermediate zone (Zone 2), and the extended zone (Zone 3).
Immediate Zone aka Zone 1
In this zone, you want to reduce all possible sources of ignition around the business and within. So you’ll be looking at using fire-resistant building materials as well as fire-safe construction methods.
Eliminating all vegetation and mulch along the walls of the building and replacing instead with crushed stone or rock.
Intermediate Zone aka Zone 2
The goal of the intermediate zone is to minimize and space flammable vegetation surrounding the building. If there are any fires you want them to remain at ground level.
Ground-level fires are easier to fight and can be prevented from reaching your business. Select fire-resistant vegetation to plant around your building. Lawns are great and should be hydrated and maintained at heights of less than four inches (10cm).
Gravel paths and driveways act as good fire barriers and remove fuel sources slowing down the spread of fires.
Extended Zone aka Zone 3
This is the premier line of defence for any business. When conducting your fire inspection, it is imperative to study what lies within this zone as this can be the best buffer that slows down fires within the building and fires from neighbouring buildings.
Preventative Measure # 2 Carry Out Routine Fire Inspections
Fire safety inspectors such as our experienced team at All Protect Systems can help you to evaluate your business premises by carrying out a routine fire inspection every quarter in order to ascertain the following:
· The various ways fires can start inside the building
· Potential ignition sources
· The integrity of your safety systems e.g. smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers
You will receive a detailed analysis of the findings and areas that need to be improved in order to stay compliant with the National Fire Code.
Preventative Measure # 3 Update Your Fire Alarms
When was the last time that you updated your fire alarms? And how often should you change your fire alarms?
Industry best practice recommends changing smoke alarms at least once every 10 years. This is of course unless your building suffered a fire incident and there is a serious question as to the integrity of the existing systems.
In this case, after a thorough fire inspection, you may be advised that it’s best to install a new system altogether.
Preventative Measure # 4 Check Your Fire Sprinkler Systems
Following hot on the heels of fire alarm systems are fire sprinkler systems. Checking your fire sprinkler systems is a great way to make sure your business is fire prevention-proof.
Fire sprinkler systems within your business should be replaced if they are old and outdated and if the building has been modified. Additionally, if the sprinkler system is always in need of maintenance it might be time for a complete overhaul.
Preventative Measure # 5 Install a Suitable Number of Fire Extinguishers
Do you know how many fire extinguishers are supposed to be within your premises? If you own a multi-story building, ideally there should be at least two fire extinguishers per floor.
The total number of extinguishers required can be reduced if you have a functional automatic fire suppression system in the building.
While we’re on the topic of extinguishers, it’s worth noting that fire extinguishers aren’t all the same. They are differentiated based on the type of fire they are supposed to put out and the contents of the extinguisher.
In a nutshell, you need to select the correct fire extinguisher for your business. Fire specialists can assist you in determining the correct extinguisher to mount inside the building.
And now for a bonus tip…
Bonus Preventative Measure: Make Sure Your Business Address is Clearly Visible
How easy is it for firefighters to locate your business premises? Is your business address clearly marked somewhere visible on a signpost perhaps?
Don’t overlook this seemingly minor detail.
In the event of a fire, time is a precious commodity. The faster firefighters can locate your business, the sooner they can get to work putting out the fire and rescuing any trapped employees.
Invest in High-Quality Fire Prevention Systems Today
Armed with these preventative tips, you can help slow down and even stop the spread of a fire within your property or from external sources.
If you would like to talk to a fire specialist to discuss fire prevention equipment, one of our friendly members of staff would be happy to consult with you.
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.