As Businesses Reopen, The NFPA Urges A New Fire Safety Plan

Posted On: July 8th, 2020

Right now, businesses across the country are preparing to reopen for the first time since March this year. However, there are lots of measures they need to take in order to keep both customers and staff safe. This may include the use of masks by staff, moving tables and chairs further apart, and more. However, one thing they may not have considered is a new fire safety plan due to a period of the building being empty.

Because of this, the NFPA has put out a checklist that urges businesses to check over their buildings before reopening.

Here’s what they’re asking businesses to do, before they can reopen to the public.


The Importance of the Checklist

As businesses have been shut down, the regular inspection of fire safety equipment has been encouraged even when buildings are empty. This makes a lot of sense, as even an empty building can catch fire. However, there are inspections that may have been missed for any number of reasons. If that sounds like your business, then it’s vital that you reassess fire safety before you open back up to the public.

So, as you’re reopening, it’s very likely that you have had to make some changes to the way your premises are laid out. As this is the case, it may affect your fire safety plan. For example, you may need to plan new escape routes if a fire were to break out. Because of this, you need to examine your building carefully before reopening.


General Checkpoints for Your Business

If you’re about to reopen, here are some of the general checkpoints that the NFPA has put out. This doesn’t cover all of them, but it does give you an overview of what you need to do.

Check all fire protection systems: You’ll have many different things in your building that help protect against fire. These will include fire extinguishers, fire alarm systems, smoke detectors, and so on. If you’ve missed a regular testing during the time the business has been shut, it’s vital that you do check these. 

Look to see that smoke detectors are operating as they should, and that all fire extinguishers are operational. You’ll also need to see that all emergency lighting, and emergency exit signs, are operational too. If you see any problems during this inspection, you’ll need to address them before opening up to the public.

Look for obstructions: As the building has been empty, some people may have piled up items in areas where they aren’t normally kept. For example, chairs and tables may have been piled up inside restaurants, rather than being placed outdoors. If this has happened here, you’ll need to ensure that they aren’t blocking any fire exits.

In a regular fire safety check, inspectors will look for fire exits to be clear. Remember, they need to be clear on the outside too. To create space, you may have had to remove some items from the building’s public spaces. If you have, find somewhere to store them where they won’t cause obstructions. This may have to be off property, depending on your needs.


As Businesses Reopen, NFPA Urges A New Fire Safety Plan - Fraker Fire


Wildfire preparations: If your business is in an area where wildfires are expected, you’ll need to do some extra work to protect your building. Over the course of the shutdown, you may not have been able to trim back any vegetation around the premises. As wildfires are currently a threat, you need to remove this vegetation ASAP, to ensure that you won’t be at risk. 

Proper storage of hand sanitizers: To reopen safely, you’ll have stocked up on hand sanitizers for your customers and staff. These are great to avoid passing on viruses, but they can pose a fire risk. Alcohol based sanitizers are combustible, so you’ll need to think carefully about where you place them. The instructions with your sanitizers will let you know how to store them safely, so pay close attention.

Check with local authorities: Before reopening, you may have to meet guidelines in your local area. If you’re not sure, check with your local authorities now. They will let you know what you need to do so it will save any complications later.


Check Your Water Based Systems

You’ll need to check your water based systems before you reopen. As you’ve not been in the building, you may not have noticed if any damage has occurred to them in that time. Now is the time to check them, as you’ll be able to make the proper repairs before you open up again.

You’ll need to look for things like sprinklers being in good condition, leaks in pipes or sprinklers, properly connected fire department alert systems, and so on.


Check Your Fire Alarm Systems

If the worst were to happen and a fire did break out, you need to know that your fire alarm system is going to work as it should. To do this, look to see that all equipment needed is in proper condition. Check that initiating devices, such as smoke detectors or fire alarm pulls, aren’t physically damaged. You’ll also need to check that they’re not blocked behind other objects, such as stacked up furniture.

Also ensure that the alarm system itself is working as it should. There should be a way to test it, to ensure that all signals are working correctly. If you are unsure, contact the company who created your system for more advice. If you know it’s all working as it should, you can reopen in confidence.


Be Ready with a New Fire Safety Plan

As a business, it’s vital that you go down this whole checklist and ensure your premises are safe from fire at this time. Fire may not be the biggest risk on your mind, but you need to be prepared before you can allow people back into your building. Use this checklist to ensure that you’re going to be keeping everybody safe, and that your building is up to code, before you reopen.


As Businesses Reopen, NFPA Urges A New Fire Safety Plan - Fraker Fire

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