Commercial buildings usually have different fire risks from residential dwellings. They have several different types of fire source ignition material and multiple fire causes. Good building management involves identifying potential fire problems and implementing fire protection systems.
All Protect Systems, Inc has been protecting Ontario area businesses from all types of fire danger since 1996. They perform inspections and can service all of your fire protection needs.
What Are the Major Sources of Commercial Fire Dangers?
Commercial fire sources vary according to the activity taking place in the building. According to the Canadian National Fire Information Database (NFID), some of the most common ignition sources include:
- Cooking equipment – Commercial restaurant equipment such as deep fryers, stoves, ovens, smokers, and toasters
- Heating equipment – Space heaters, water heaters, central air, baseboard heaters, and radiant heaters
- Electrical distribution equipment – Electrical wire conductors, fuses, breaker panels, transformers
- Smoking material – Cigarettes, cigars, lighters, and ashtrays
- Open flame – Lanterns, candles, blowtorches, and welding tools
The NFID also compiles a list of the most common causes of commercial fires. These causes are considered acts or omissions that are either accidental or intentional. It also includes building problems that suffer from poor design or lack of maintenance.
- Arson – Criminal act of fire-starting by an individual or group for mischief or vandalism
- Ignition material misuse – Accidents related to smoking, welding equipment, other sources of open flame, accidental fuel spills, or overheating cooking oil
- Electrical or mechanical problems – Broken or defective electrical equipment, engine backfires, electrical short circuits, and manual control failure
- Equipment misuse – Overfueling of engines, lack of maintenance, or unattended equipment
- Installation, construction, or design problem – faulty wiring, flammable materials stored too close to a source of combustion, or other inherent building problems
- Human error – fatigue, lack of training, incompetence, impaired/intoxicated by alcohol, or distraction
How To Protect Against Different Types of Fires?
Proper and thorough fire protection for your business involves a multi-tiered approach. You need to develop a fire safety plan, according to the Ontario Fire Code and adhere to the following guidelines:
- Risk evaluation – Have someone regularly audit your building for any obvious or potential fire hazards. Keep records for all these audits.
- Passive fire protection – Maintain your passive fire protection by ensuring that fire doors remain up to code, penetrations through firewalls are properly sealed, and structural members maintain their fire retardant material.
- Fire Alarm – Install a fire alarm system with fire, smoke, carbon monoxide detectors, and manual pull stations. Test the system in accordance with the Ontario Fire Code, and make repairs when necessary.
- Fire extinguishing equipment – Keep fire extinguishers and fire hoses serviced and in good working order. Have qualified personnel inspect them on the proper schedules, and replace faulty or damaged equipment when necessary.
- Electrical equipment – Check for frayed electrical cords and overloaded electrical circuits. Turn off appliances when they’re not in use.
- Hot items – Keep hot devices like coffee makers, copiers, or motors away from paper or any other combustible material.
What Sorts of Buildings Are Susceptible to Fires?
Fire types are generally dependent on the type of building and how it’s used. Education institutions, healthcare facilities, restaurants, office buildings, and industrial buildings are all susceptible to fire dangers. Sometimes it takes an experienced professional to spot and correct the fire dangers lurking in your building.
The trained and certified technicians at All Protect Systems, Inc., are at your service. They’re a total systems provider that can handle all of your fire protection needs. Call them today to find out what they can do for you!
False fire alarms are not only annoying, but they waste the time and resources for your local fire department.
The good news is there are ways to help limit these false alarms. While some false alarms may still happen, they’ll occur much less frequently.
Taking the time to do this can prevent costly fines and ensure when the alarm does sound, occupants take it seriously instead of thinking it’s just a false alarm.
Why Does It Matter
If you think it’s not that much of a problem, consider what happens if a legitimate fire alarm happens while your local firefighters are responding to your false one. Every time they respond to false fire alarms, they’re wasting valuable time and resources that could go to real emergencies.
In Ottawa alone, there were over 7,000 false fire alarms in 2017. Just over 4,000 were caused by equipment malfunction or accident, while the remainder was due to human error, such as purposely or accidentally pulling the alarm.
Plus, false alarms cost your business or organization. For instance, Toronto charges $350 per dispatched fire vehicle for false alarms due to negligence or malicious intent.
Move Fire Alarms
The Ontario Fire Code does allow you to move fire alarm boxes if they are being pulled or set off accidentally. For manual pull stations, section 18.104.22.168 states the station may be moved if there is a high incidence of false alarms.
You must make certain there are still safety precautions in place in the event of a fire.
If an alarm is being set off due to someone leaning against it or bumping it going back and forth, moving it to a better location can drastically reduce false fire alarms.
Uncover The Cause
Use security cameras to determine what is causing the false alarms. For instance, children may think it’s amusing to pull the alarm to avoid going to school. When you know what’s happening and even who is doing it, it’s much easier to develop a plan to prevent it.
If fire alarms are being pulled maliciously, even if someone just thinks it’s a joke, implement fines to prevent false fire alarms. Ensure everyone in the building knows about this policy.
Post this with your fire safety plan too so visitors are aware of it. Using security cameras helps you to identify the culprit(s) so you know who to fine.
Most people don’t want to have to pay a fine. You can even charge them the fines from the fire department along with your building’s fine.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
Poorly maintained, outdated and incorrectly installed fire alarms can all sound false alarms. It’s vital to schedule regular maintenance to check your systems before they become an issue.
If you’re dealing with regular false fire alarms, call in the alarm company to investigate. Equipment does malfunction, but it can be repaired. Everything from issues with the alarm itself to faulty wiring can all cause issues.
If you’ve recently gone through renovations and are experiencing an increase in false alarms, have your system and wiring checked to ensure there aren’t any issues as a result of the renovations.
Establish A Fire Warden
Ask for volunteers or designate one or more people per floor as a fire warden to help monitor the fire alarms. It is there responsibility to keep a check on the alarms and to watch for anyone who may be attempting to pull the alarm.
They can also identify if someone did it maliciously or accidentally. If it’s an accident often, this is a good indicator the alarm should be moved. Ideally, you’ll want someone who is already near the alarm, such as someone with an office or room across from or beside the alarm.
Keep Sensors Away From Triggers
False fire alarms can go off if sensors are not installed in the right place. Smoke detectors should always be installed away from vents and heat/smoke sources, such as not having one installed directly above an oven.
If someone is moving the smoke detectors around, use security cameras or your designated fire warden to determine who is doing this. Fine them to prevent this from happening again.
Help limit false fire alarms with regular inspections and maintenance. See how All Protect Systems can help with annual and monthly inspections.
Image: Renee Gaudet