Whether you work with a professional service provider, or are doing the majority of the work yourself, it’s important to know the fundamentals of fire safety system assessment. Protecting your business and its occupants, as well as staying code compliant, is an extremely important responsibility. There are 365 days in a year and your fire protection system will provide tireless levels of protection every day if it is kept in good working order. Following are 7 tips that will help make sure that your system is ready when it’s needed.
1. Keeping Your Systems in Service
This may seem obvious, but you need to limit the amount of time your systems are shut down for any kind of an impairment. You or whoever is responsible for the task should know why the systems are being shut down, what the anticipated duration is, and most important of all, when they have been put back in service.
2. Consider Your Fire Safety System When Making Changes to your Facility
Facility managers are responsible for looking at the individual systems that protect their buildings against fires, however, it’s important to remember that they’re also part of the facilities entire ecosystem. In other words, the actions intended for one part of a building can have an impact on others. This is especially the case when it comes to a few commonly overlooked aspects of fire safety. Simple things such as rearranging appliances under a kitchen hood, to adding additional office and storage space can have a significant impact on your system’s ability to control a fire event. It’s important not to overlook factors that appear to be insignificant, like enclosing an area underneath an exterior balcony or stairs in order to provide additional storage space. Bottom line, proper planning can protect against a total system failure.
3. Don’t Obstruct Access to Building Life Safety Features
Stair and exit access is a frequently overlooked part of fire safety in buildings. Most don’t realize that even small changes in an office area’s flow and layout can have an effect on the occupants’ ability to locate and use a minimum of two exits in the event of an emergency. In addition, storage areas should never be piled up in a way that obstructs fire sprinklers, fire alarm horn strobes or access to fire alarm pull stations.
4. Don’t Alter Fire Prevention Devices
Don’t paint, or allow to be painted, any safety device including fire sprinklers, heat or smoke detectors, or horn strobe devices. Redecorating and/or remodeling in the home or workplace quite often includes painting ceilings and walls. In some cases, fire safety systems, including automatic fire suppression sprinklers, also end up getting painted. This can be detrimental to the functionality of a fire safety system.
5. Maintain Adequate Heat
It’s important to maintain adequate heat (40 degrees Fahrenheit minimum), for wet sprinkler systems. In addition, it’s important to make sure that all auxiliary drains are drained during periods of freezing weather for all dry type fire sprinkler systems, including pre-action and deluge systems, installed in unheated areas. Failure to do so results in costly water damage and downtime.
6. Promptly Respond to Alerts
Address trouble and supervisory alerts that occur with your fire alarm control panel. Early detection and correction of these abnormal conditions will help prevent a loss caused by system failure. Promptly responding to alerts is an integral part of protecting any modern structure.
7. Conduct all required Inspection/Testing
Probably the most important, yet often neglected, steps in keeping a facility safe is to make sure that the fire protection system is routinely tested and maintained. After all, a fire protection system is only as good as the testing and maintenance executed on it. If the system doesn’t perform perfectly when it needs to it’s worthless. Addressing all deficiencies identified and paying careful attention to recurring issues is crucial. The reasons behind recurring issues need to be identified and mitigated.
It’s better to discover and fix a problem right away than to let the issue remain unnoticed until it becomes a critical defect in your Fire Protection System. Keeping your fire protection system in service will save lives and your business. Give us a call or contact us online to discuss!