When you consider that US fire departments respond to over 3000 fires in office properties each year, keeping your building and its occupants safeguarded against fire should be a top priority. If you work or reside in a place where there are large concentrations of people, you can expect to be subject to a fire safety inspection at least once a year.
How do you prepare for a fire safety inspection? Thoroughly. Today we are going to give you some great pointers to ensure you pass.
What is a Fire Safety Inspection?
In the simplest terms, a fire safety inspection is conducted by an authorized individual or team. They will consider areas of a building or property and see whether it satisfies the minimum requirements given on the checklist regarding fire safety.
The requirements are laid down in a series of codes. These can vary depending on the state, the fire protection equipment fitted, and the general purpose of the building. The inspector will check many different areas.
- The probability of ways in which a fire could start.
- Fire protection and safeguarding.
- Exit means and procedures.
- Ease of access for emergency services.
Let’s take a look at each of these in turn and examine where you might find examples:
Ways That Fires Could Start
Let’s say your workplace has a break room with an electrical appliance. When was the last time it was checked? Is it safe? Is there a heating element placed near a waste paper trash can?
How’s about if you work in a place with lots of flammable liquids? Are they stored responsibly?
How fires can start are numerous and varied. You should seek to minimize any fire hazards, as the best way to fight a fire is to stop it beginning in the first place.
Fire Protection and Safety Systems
If a fire does break out, how well equipped are you to deal with it?
This is another area that a fire inspector will assess. Do you have the correct fire extinguishers? Are your alarms easily accessible and in good working order? Do you have documentation proving that these systems work?
Exits and Procedures
A good fire evacuation plan revolves around an easy way to exit the building in an orderly, organized, and safe way. Are exits easy to see and access? Is your signage correct? Overall, if there was a fire, would people be able to exit the building easily without obstruction?
Emergency Service Access
The quicker the emergency services can access a fire, the less the damage and risk of loss of life.
Ideally, the emergency services should have the means to access the building immediately.
Pass the Fire Safety Inspection
It should be noted that satisfying all of the above will allow you to pass a fire safety inspection. However, the ultimate goal is not simply a case of ‘passing a test’. The truth is that if any of the above criteria are not met, you could be putting people’s safety in jeopardy.
Why Prepare for a Fire Safety Inspection
Try and consider a fire safety inspection as a confirmation that you are already doing the right thing. It isn’t something that you prepare for and then forget as soon as the inspection leaves. Preparation for a fire safety inspection is something you should constantly be doing at all times.
Aside from a fire inspector, there is something else that will identify flaws in your fire escape plan, emergency equipment, and general workspace.
And it is much less forgiving than any fire inspector.
The above aside, you will want to ensure that your building complies with the required rules, codes, regulations, and laws. To be in breach of them could mean that your building has to remain unoccupied until all problems are addressed.
For businesses, this might not be a good prospect.
How to Prepare for a Fire Safety Inspection
Fire safety inspections are generally based on common sense. Here are some general guidelines you can follow to make sure that you pass. A fire inspector will identify any flaws and also advise on how you can fix them:
Remember how we talked about common sense?
Even without an impending fire inspection, our general advice would be… If it looks like a fire risk, then it probably is.
Here are some things you can easily address:
- Ensure your electrical systems are safe and in good working order.
- Avoid large collections of flammable materials.
- Check heat sources.
- Ensure areas involving cooking equipment is kept clean and grease-free.
Safety systems contain and extinguish fires. They need to be in good working order.
Here are some things you could consider doing:
- Check that any fire alarm system is fully operational.
- Have documentation to hand showing your systems are well maintained.
- Replace batteries in smoke alarms.
- Ensure that you have the correct type of fire extinguishers.
- Check fire doors close, open, and access is unimpeded.
Exiting the Building
Ensure that everyone can escape a fire.
There are some basic rules that you can follow to ensure this is possible:
- Ensure your fire exits and escapes are well maintained, unlocked, and usable.
- Make sure that corridors and routes to fire escapes aren’t blocked or obstructed.
- Check all of the signs and lighting leading to emergency exits. Are they all working?
Emergency Service Access
There are quite a few things to think about when it comes to allowing emergency service personnel access.
- Ensure that the building address is clearly marked.
- Check that installed fire hydrants and hose cabinets are accessible and within reach of all building areas. This includes making sure they aren’t obstructed by vehicles or equipment.
- Keep clear fire lanes.
- Know where building keys are or how to get them.
Occasionally a fire inspector may find a violation. You will have to agree on steps to take to rectify this promptly. You will also need to be aware of who is responsible, whether the building owner, the business owner, or you taking personal responsibility.
Fire safety inspections needn’t be daunting, provided you have taken a sensible approach in the first place. The easiest solution? Why not book a consultation with a professional fire protection service. Fraker Fire, serving the California area, can offer expert guidance on fire inspections. We can also offer excellent advice on fire alarm installation, emergency equipment, and much more.