Posts Tagged ‘fire safety plan’

Spring Tips for Evaluating Your Building’s Fire Safety Plan

Posted: July 15th, 2021

Spring is a time of rebirth in nature, and we also use it as a time for cleaning, organizing, and setting new agendas in our lives. If you’re responsible for your building’s fire safety plan, spring might be the ideal season to evaluate and hopefully improve your commercial fire safety plan. 

The Ontario Fire Code requires certain commercial buildings to have a fire safety plan, and if yours is one of them, you need to revisit your plan as changes occur on your premises. However, if you find yourself too busy to handle the details, the expert staff at All Protect Systems, Inc has been designing, reviewing, and improving commercial fire safety plans for Ontario are businesses since 1996. 

Building Evacuation

Life safety is the most critical aspect of any commercial fire safety plan, and your number one priority is getting occupants out of the building during a fire. When revisiting your fire safety plan, make notes of any changes to the building structure or uses within it. 

Perhaps new furniture has been placed in a lobby, or an office has become storage space? Ask yourself how these alterations could affect your fire risks or evacuation routes. Physical changes to the building or uses of building spaces may require an alteration to your building evacuation route or even a new fire exit. 

Identify Hazards

As a building manager, your responsibilities include posting signs and keeping an eye out for faulty equipment that could ignite and start a dangerous fire. Your commercial fire safety plan must identify these hazards and educate the appropriate staff about ways to minimize danger.

The reasons for most commercial fires are surprisingly predictable. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), most accidental commercial building fires start from four basic causes. 

Cooking equipment is responsible for:

  • 65 percent of healthcare facility fires
  • 61 percent in restaurants
  • 38 percent in educational institutions

Avoid fires from cooking equipment by:

    • Cleaning up any grease buildup Up Grease. …
    • Properly maintain the equipment
    • Keep fire extinguishers nearby

Heating equipment, such as furnaces, boilers, and radiators, cause:

  • 14 percent of fires in industrial buildings
  • 11 percent in office buildings
  • Nine percent in restaurants

Avoid fires from heating equipment by:

    • Regular inspections
    • Preventative maintenance

Electrical equipment accounts for:

  • 12 percent of office building fires
  • 10 percent in stores
  • Nine percent of restaurant fires

Avoid electrical fires by keeping an eye out for:

    • Corroded wiring
    • Overloaded circuits (blown fuses or tripping breakers)
    • Daisy chained power strips or extension cords

Despite the reduction in smokers, smoking still accounts for:

  • Nine percent of office building fires
  • Seven percent in restaurants
  • Five percent in healthcare facilities

Avoid fires from smokers by:

    • Keeping smokers outside
    • Provide ashtray with sand for them to extinguish their cigarettes
    • Strictly prohibit any smoking around oxygen tanks

Encourage Feedback After Fire Drills

Fire drills can become a robotic experience, but it does force the participants to think about fire safety. Encourage the building occupants to share any ideas or concerns that they may have about fire hazards or the evacuation plan. 

Even if they don’t have any ideas on hand, your request can encourage them to give the matter some thought. Everyone who works in a building should have an eye out for potential fire hazards.

While spring is an excellent time to revisit your building’s fire safety plan, fire safety should be a year-round priority. However, if you prefer to delegate fire safety planning to professionals, All Protect Systems can help you with all of your fire safety needs. Call them today to find out what they can do for you!

5 Ways To Prepare For A Fire System Inspection

Posted: April 15th, 2021

Whether you’ve already scheduled your next fire system inspection or the Ontario fire marshal decides to make an impromptu visit, your building needs to up to code. The Ontario Fire Code spells out your obligations under the law, and different types of facilities have specific requirements for their respective fire systems. 

Failing a fire system inspection can result in the closing of your business. While your building should be in code compliance at all times, fire marshals are even less forgiving when they schedule an inspection. If you need assistance with your facility, the experts at All Protect Systems, Inc have been preparing Ontario businesses for their fire inspections since 1996, with the following systems:

1) Electrical Equipment

Make sure your building’s electrical system is functioning correctly and up to code. Electrical problems are one of the most common causes of building fires, so the fire inspector examines your electrical system closely. Inspections often fail for reasons, such as:

  • Missing cover plates for junction boxes or electrical outlets
  • Openings in circuit breaker boxes – Sparks or arcs can ignite nearby combustible material.
  • Unlabeled breakers
  • Using extension cords for permanent appliances 
  • Extension cords stapled to a wall or furniture
  • Overloaded power strips
  • Daisy-chained surge suppressors
  • Unlabeled and unaccessible main electrical panel

You should correct these items before any fire inspection. Call an electrician if necessary. 

2) Keep Exit Pathways Clear

Fire marshals understand that occupant evacuation during a fire can be hectic and dangerous. They frown on any obstacles that prevent an easy egress from the premises. The Ontario Fire Code specifications regarding building egress include:

  • 2.4.1.1.(2) Combustible materials shall not be accumulated in any part of an elevator shaft, ventilation shaft, means of egress – however, code does permit wooden furniture as long as it doesn’t impede the exit
  • 2.7.1.7. (1) Means of egress shall be maintained in good repair and free of obstructions.
  • 2.8.2.5. (2)(b) Hotels must have fire safety rules posted on exit doors of guest suites

3) Fire Alarms

Trained and licensed professionals must perform periodic fire inspections according to your building’s requirements. The company performing the fire system inspection should provide you with a written report that you must provide to the fire marshall on request. When the fire marshal has scheduled his own inspection, make sure of the following:

  • Pull stations are visible and accessible
  • The fire alarm panel is easily accessible and free of trouble or supervisory alerts

4) Fire Extinguishers

The Ontario Fire Code has detailed requirements for the type of extinguishers required and their testing, inspection, and maintenance. They need annual service and inspection by trained technicians, as well as the following:

  • Recharging or replacement if the extinguishing material is low
  • Hydrostatic testing of the cylinder or replacement every six years

Visually inspect your extinguishers each month to ensure that they’re:

  • Visible
  • Accessible
  • Rust free
  • Gauge is in the green area

5) Fire Hoses

You must provide documentation of annual fire hose inspections to the fire marshal upon request. Fire hose inspections check for issues, such as:

  • Excess debris 
  • Mildew
  • Rott
  • Chemical damage 
  • Cuts or abrasions

Preparation is the key to passing your next Ontario Fire Marshal fire inspection. If you don’t have the time to brush up on the latest code revisions, you can always rely on the experts at All Protect Systems, Inc. 

Specialists in fire protection, All Protect’s technicians can see potential problems and solutions that you might miss. Call them today to find out what they can do for you!

Is Your Apartment Fire Safety Plan Up To Code?

Posted: November 15th, 2020

According to Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General, of the 113,111 fires between 2009 to 2018, 47 percent of them occurred in residential dwellings. Apartment building fires can be costly in terms of lives and property, so it’s incumbent upon the apartment’s owner or administrator to make sure that his building’s fire safety plan is up to code.

If you’re not familiar with the Ontario code for apartment building fire safety plans, you may wish to consult an expert. The All Protect Systems team has years of training and experience with Ontario’s regulations and is on a first-name basis with many local inspectors. If you don’t have the time or energy to learn everything about local fire codes and keep up to date your building’s fire safety plan, then give them a call to find out how they can help you with all of your fire safety needs.

What Is the Ontario Code for Apartment Building Fire Safety Plans?

Established by the Ministry of the Solicitor General under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act of 1997, the Ontario Fire Code regulates the minimum requirements for fire safety within and around existing apartment buildings. Unless otherwise specified, it’s the building owner’s responsibility to adhere to these regulations.

The code requires a fire safety plan for any building that houses more than ten people. It must include provisions for fire prevention, evacuation, and emergency response.

Do Fire Safety Plans Require Adjustment?

Yes, the fire code is a dynamic set of regulations that is continually evolving. Even if the code hasn’t changed, your building probably has. Astute building owners and property managers take the time to monitor any code or building changes that might apply to the fire code. 

Various personnel, mechanical, electrical, and structural changes can affect your apartment building’s fire preparedness. Some of the things that may occur to your property that require adjusting your fire safety plan include:

  • Personnel changes. Your fire safety plan includes a list of supervisory staff that is responsible for documentation and fire instruction. They are also usually on the call list for fire emergencies. You need to update your fire safety plan when staff changes.
  • New fire protection equipment. Suppose you’ve made changes to your fire protection equipment, such as replacing smoke detectors, adding heat detectors, or replacing fire extinguishers. In that case, you must update the description of these devices in your fire safety plan.
  • Building facility maintenance. Apartment buildings require regular maintenance to serve the needs of its inhabitants and stay up to code. You must document any building changes that affect the building’s fire alarm, passive fire protection, or emergency exit lighting. Don’t forget to inspect and note firewall penetrations.
  • Schematic drawings. Cosmetic and structural building changes often require changing the location of fire protection devices, such as fire extinguishers and hoses. Even if the location change is entirely up to code, you still need to update those locations in your fire safety plan.
  • Changes to fire drills. Fire safety plans must include the details of your fire building’s fire drills. You must document any changes to them. 

Your apartment building’s fire safety plan must be reviewed once every 12 months to remain up to code, so it can remain up to date with any changes that have taken place. If this seems like a lot of work for a busy administrator or building owner, then delegate this task to the experts at All Protect Systems, Inc. They can keep your fire safety plan up to code and help you avoid any unnecessary fines or bureaucratic nuisance. Call them today!

How Often Should You Hold Fire Drills

Posted: May 15th, 2020

Fire drills are disruptive to building activities, they’re also a necessary life safety practice for your premises. Building fires can spread rapidly, and being well-versed in evacuating a building stands a much better chance of safely escaping a fire.

Fire drills should not only involve evacuating personnel from the building; instead, they should be part of an overall fire safety plan that includes documenting fire protection equipment and procedures as well as controlling fire hazards throughout the building. All Protect Systems, Inc. can help your residential or commercial building develop a customized fire safety plan. Call them today and find out what they can do for you.

Perform Fire Drills a Minimum of Once Each Year

It might seem like a lot if you’re not in the habit of holding fire drills, but without regular practice, a fire evacuation can be a chaotic event. Besides enhancing occupant safety, the exercises also encourage management to think of themselves as part of a team and to be conscious of fire as a real and present danger. There’s no better detection for potential fire hazards than the alert eyes of the people who occupy the building every day.

Have a Plan for the Drill 

Fire drills need to be planned and organized. Ensure that occupants are aware of the various fire exits throughout the facility. Most people use the same entry doors every day, so they tend to rely on habit in an emergency. A plan allows them to access the best egress in their location. 

Ontario 213/07 is the fire code created under the Fire and Prevention Act of 1997. It details the legal requirements to which all types of premises must adhere.

Subsection 2.8.2 stipulates the requirements for a Fire Safety Plan. Part of this plan demands that the occupant appoint and train a supervisory staff responsible for performing safety duties and instructing other occupants about their responsibilities during a fire emergency. Other requirements during a fire include:

  • Audible fire alarm activation
  • Fire department notification
  • Occupant instruction during the fire alarm
  • Evacuation of occupants including those with special needs
  • Usage of elevators
  • Fire control

Depending on the building structure and type of activity, your company may need to develop a fire safety plan and have it approved by the authority having jurisdiction. Keep this plan stored in an approved location and review it whenever necessary. You still must review it at least once per year to consider any building changes that have taken place.

Make Emergency Procedures Visible

All buildings are required to post emergency fire procedures on each floor, and hotels have additional requirements. If your building’s fire alarm is not monitored, you must post a legible sign next to each manual fire alarm pull station with instructions to contact the fire department. The sign must include the local emergency telephone number or the number of the local fire department. 

Fire drills should be part of a larger fire safety plan required by Ontario law. Capable administrators must either develop these plans themselves or delegate this responsibility to trained professionals. The team at All Protect Systems, Inc. are experts at developing fire safety plans. By staying abreast of any changes in technology or code requirements, they can help keep your building and personnel safe. They’re a full-service fire protection provider in the Ontario area, serving Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Elmira, New Hamburg, Wellesley, Listowel, Stratford, Woodstock, and surrounding areas. Call them today for an evaluation of your current fire safety plan.

How To Conduct Fire Drills The Right Way

Posted: December 2nd, 2019

The last thing most people expect to happen at work is a fire or any other kind of disaster, but the truth is they happen on a regular basis in offices all over the world.

A workplace can actually be a life-threatening environment if a fire does break out. This is why company leaders and workers need to know how to conduct fire drills the right way in the workplace.

One of the best methods to prepare everyone for a real emergency is to schedule fire drills on a regular basis so that knowing how to safely leave the premises is second nature to all involved.

Fire drills help workers to be aware of how to get out of the office in the event of any emergency, such as a natural disaster or an armed intruder on the premises.

The art of repetition

The great majority of schools hold regular fire drills every few months. These drills are repeated so frequently so that the routine actually becomes a habit and in the event of a real emergency taking place children will know precisely what they need to do without thinking.

Complacency can even lead to ignorance of basic safety knowledge such as the location of fire exits. In some cases fire exit doors may be jammed or partly blocked. Issues such as these will be exposed by regular fire drills.

Create a detailed plan

It is crucial to come up with a detailed fire evacuation plan before you start holding regular fire drills. You will have to imagine the possibilities of where a fire may start in your building, such as in the kitchen or warehouse, or if your business could be at risk from natural events such as wildfires during the summer months.

How to do it

Once the plan has been drawn up the next step is to make sure that you have an established fire team who know what to do in order to ensure the success of your fire drill.

It is also crucial that every employee is aware of why the fire drill is important or you risk them failing to take it seriously.

The drill should be announced in places where it will be seen by all employees and scheduled on your firm’s Google or Outlook calendar.

What are you hoping to achieve?

It is important to have clear goals that you want to achieve for a fire drill. These goals and standards can then be improved upon in subsequent drills. If it takes fifteen minutes for all employees to exit the building on the first fire drill, try and find it why it took so long and take steps to reduce that time on the next drill.

Measurable metrics include how long the evacuation took, how long it took to report that the drill had been completed and if all equipment was successfully shut down.

Where to go

Every employee needs to be accounted for away from the building for a fire drill to be considered a success. There needs to be pre-chosen rally point at a strategic outside location. Several rally points may need to be selected for big companies, with every point having its own individual fire team leader. In the event an employee is not present, predetermined reporting protocols should be followed and the whole fire team and authorities alerted.

Observers

Several employees should be selected to observe your fire drills. These observers need to look out for issues such as large groups dawdling, people using mobile devices, people choosing to leave via a less convenient exit and if disabled employees find it more difficult to open doors or use stairs.

Get in touch with All Protect Systems today to discuss how they can assist with the preparation of fire drills in your company that could save lives.

Image: Flickr

5 Key Components Of An Emergency Exit Plan

Posted: September 4th, 2019

You never know when an emergency will happen. This is why you have to plan in advance and have an emergency exit plan in place.

Simply having exit signs and an alarm system isn’t enough. People have to know what to do and who to follow when the worst happens.

During a time when it’s easy to panic, you’ll be glad to have a plan in place. By covering five key components, it’ll be easier for everyone to make it to safety faster.

Emergency Exit Plan Required

Before you think it’s not that important, know that the Ontario Fire Code requires buildings covered under section 2.1.1.2 and 2.8.1.1 to have a fire safety code in place. Without one that covers all necessary requirements, you could face hefty fines in the event of a fire or related emergency.

1. Sounding The Alarm

What happens when an emergency starts? Confusion is your worst enemy. The first key component of your emergency exit plan should cover the steps necessary to notify everyone of the emergency.

This includes sounding alarms and notifying local emergency personnel. Unless everyone knows there is an emergency, everyone can’t get out safely. The sooner everyone takes action, the quicker you can evacuate.

2. The Best Exits

Your emergency exit plan should include drills that help occupants learn the paths to the best exits for different areas and floors. If you have employees or occupants who often work in varying areas and floors, ensure they practice the drills in different areas and are trained on the proper exits.

One key part of this is to explain when elevators are appropriate and when stairs are the best option. After all, you don’t want occupants getting stuck in the elevator during an emergency.

Naturally, all exits should be clearly marked, making it easier to evacuate.

3. Evacuating Special Needs

All of your occupants may not be able to walk to the exits. For anyone with special needs, your emergency exit plan needs to have the proper evacuation procedures for those people. This is especially true in healthcare facilities.

You’ll also need to designate who is in charge of ensuring those people have a clear exit and know what to do in the event of an emergency. In most cases, you’ll have a leader, but all occupants and staff should be trained on what to do to help others.

4. Designate Leaders

In the panic and chaos, people need someone to follow. While everyone needs to be trained on the proper evacuation techniques, every area needs to have a clear leader in place. This can be a leader per floor, department or a set group of people.

These are the leaders who ensure the alarm has sounded. They know exactly how many people are in their area and where to send them in the event of an emergency. They’ll need to be specially trained on how to lead people and how to avoid panicking themselves during an emergency.

5. Controlling Fires

Sometimes, a clear exit isn’t available during an emergency. Of course, your building should have fire safety equipment in place, such as fire extinguishers. Your emergency exit plan must include details on the location of equipment and methods for controlling fires.

In extreme cases, this could be the single factor that helps occupants keep fires at bay until help arrives or clear a path to evacuate more people. This is also why multiple exit strategies should be put into place, if possible.

Post Your Plan

Most importantly, keep your emergency exit plan posted for everyone to see. Even with proper training and drills, panic may cause people to forget what to do. Plus, there may be visitors in the building who have no idea what to do.

Keeping this posted provides guidance, especially if occupants are separated from designated leaders.

While this is just a short list, we can help you with your emergency exit plan requirements. We’ll ensure everything meets the current Ontario Fire Code, install the plan and provide a fire safety plan box.

Image: Clem Onojeghuo

5 Tips For Better Fire Extinguisher Placement

Posted: July 1st, 2019

Simply having fire extinguishers is a great first step to keeping everyone safer in the event of a fire.

However, if they’re not easily accessible, they may not be useful at all. This is why fire extinguisher placement is so important.

Knowing exactly where to place your fire extinguishers could mean the difference between stopping a fire and having to evacuate as the building goes up in flames.

1. Must Be Visible At All Times

The single most important thing to remember is to keep your fire extinguishers visible at all times. The Ontario Fire Code states that any portable extinguishers be mounted so they’re visible at all times. This ensures they’re easier to find in the event of a fire.

In buildings where visibility is obstructed, such as in a warehouse, you must have signs in place that show where fire extinguishers are placed. They should still be visible and not stored in a closet or cabinet. There are a few exceptions to the cabinet rule, but the doors should be clear to still make the fire extinguisher visible.

2. Mounting

There are two main requirements for mounting/storing. For optimal fire extinguisher placement, you must use brackets to mount the fire extinguisher on a wall within easy reach.

When mounting, keep the carrying handle between one and one and half metres above the floor. This allows individuals of all heights to reach and lift the fire extinguisher. For larger extinguishers that are heavier, it’s recommended to place them lower as they’re more difficult to lift.

Alternately, you can place fire extinguishers in cabinets with glass doors. This is often the case in areas where you don’t want individuals messing with the extinguisher. Cabinets shouldn’t be locked unless it’s in an area where this is a common problem. For major occupancy buildings, you must ensure there are identical keys to the cabinet at all supervisory or security stations and there is an electrical remote release.

3. Keep Instructions Facing Forward

Fire extinguisher placement doesn’t just apply to location. It also means placing the extinguisher so users can view the instructions easily. If you multiple classifications, such as A, B or C, and they’re placed near each other, you’ll want individuals to be able to see which extinguisher they need.

In most cases, you’ll want to install multi-purpose fire extinguishers if you have multiple hazards in a single area. No matter what type of extinguisher you have, always install the extinguisher with the instructions facing forward.

4. Keep Fire Extinguishers Close

You always want your fire extinguishers to be close by, but this doesn’t mean you need one every few metres. Optimal fire extinguisher placement means keeping extinguishers within easy traveling distance according to the Ontario Fire Code Subsection 6.2.6.

For Class A extinguishers, they should be no more than 25 metres apart. Class B placement requires that fire extinguishers should be no more than 9-15 metres apart, depending upon the size of the extinguisher.

For Class C, the extinguisher should be kept inside or directly outside the room containing the electrical equipment. With Class D, keep the extinguisher no more than 25 metres away from the potential hazard.

Naturally, if you have a high hazard area or there are obstacles in the room, you may want to place an additional fire extinguisher to minimise traveling distance and ensure the best possible scenario for putting out a fire quickly.

5. Know Your Hazards

The most important thing to remember for the best possible fire extinguisher placement is to know your hazards. For instance, you’d want your commercial kitchen extinguishers closer at hand than general fire extinguishers throughout a restaurant.

The more you understand your hazards, the easier it’ll be to place the right type of extinguishers and the right amount within a set space. A combination of multi-purpose and hazard-specific are typically needed and will need to be placed according to the hazard type.

Once your extinguishers are placed, don’t forget about regular maintenance. Contact All Protect Systems to learn more about maintaining your fire extinguishers.

Image: PublicDomainImages

How Often Should You Review Your Fire Safety Plan

Posted: May 1st, 2019

A fire safety plan is designed to help you escape as quickly and safely as possible should the worst happen. However, it shouldn’t be a plan that’s created once and never looked at again.

Over time, things may change in your structure requiring revisions to your plan. Of course, if the use of the building changes, additional revisions may be necessary too.

By law, you have to review your fire safety plan regularly. This is for your safety and the safety of all occupants in the building.

Annual Reviews

According to Ontario Fire Codes in subsection 2.8.2, you have to review your fire safety plan at least every 12 months. Keep in mind this is the minimum. However, they should be reviewed as often as necessary to ensure the safety of occupants.

All aspects of the plan should be fully reviewed. If any changes are made to the building or use of the building, the plan should be reviewed immediately after the changes are made.

In the case of major demolition or construction, a temporary plan should be put into place to account for the new hazards. As soon as the construction is over, it’s important to review the previous fire safety plan to ensure it’s still valid.

Main Areas To Review

The Fire Codes require buildings to have a fire safety plan in place at all times. During your review, you should check each of the following:

  • Emergency procedures, such as sounding alarms, notifying the local fire department, escape routes, evacuation procedures and controlling the fire
  • Assigning and training supervisory staff
  • Ensuring documents diagramming the fire emergency systems are current
  • List when and how fire drills are carried out
  • Detail how fire hazards will be controlled
  • List preventative maintenance for overall safety
  • Provide alternative solutions should your fire protection systems go down

After reviewing all of these, place the revised version of your fire safety plan in an approved location. This should be a location that’s easy for others to see and access in the event of a fire.

If you didn’t make any revisions, add the latest review date to your existing plan. This allows everyone to know that it was reviewed within the last 12 months.

If you run a retirement home or care facility, you must keep your fire safety plans on record for at least two years, even if they’ve been replaced with a newer version. The Chief Fire Official may request to see them at any point. This is just to double-check the safety of the occupants.

Reviews For Homeowners

Much like with commercial businesses and residential structures, homeowners should also have a current fire safety plan in place. Reviewing these annually and holding regular fire drills helps to keep your entire family safer.

Why Review Your Fire Safety Plan

It takes time to review your fire safety plan and that’s why some people don’t want to do it. After all, why bother if nothing has changed? However, it’s important to review all existing plans as a refresher so everyone knows what to do if a fire occurs. Plus, you may see better ways of evacuating than you did in the past.

Another reason is to ensure your plan is up to date with the latest fire codes. If your plan doesn’t meet the minimum standards, you could face fines or worse if a fire does happen and you weren’t prepared. Remember, it’s not just the building on the line – it’s everyone inside and the surrounding area about your building. Having a current plan in place keeps everyone safer. That’s well worth taking the time for.

Do you need help in creating an up to code fire safety plan for your structure? See how our Fire Safety Plans service can help.