It is important for every commercial building to have a fire protection system. If it lacks this vital safety component, all workers, customers and business owners are in potential danger. Also, the company’s inventory and equipment are at risk.
Company owners must work with their fire protection professionals, suppliers or inspectors to develop solid plans. While doing this, keep the following information in mind.
Smoke detectors, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are the first line of protection against devastating smoke and fires.
Make sure that these devices and systems are regularly inspected and meet all local, state and federal regulations. Test them regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If the alarm or system is supposed to be tested by a professional, be sure to have a qualified individual perform the tests.
Keep all documents that accompanied the alarm or system. This includes the owner’s manual, operation instructions, purchase records and warranty information. Also, keep a log of repairs and maintenance.
Fire extinguishers and suppressors
Fire extinguishers allow people to fight small fires before there is significant damage. Larger systems can put out big fires and keep spacious open areas safer. Learn all regulations for fire extinguisher size and quantity for an individual business.
Be sure to comply with those requirements, and keep extinguishers in areas that will not require people to walk more than 75 feet to reach them.
Ensure that the extinguishers are each maintained and inspected as required, and the same applies for suppressors. Be sure to train employees how to use fire extinguishers or suppressors frequently. Most local fire departments will conduct demonstrations regularly with advance notice.
Sprinkler systems should frequently be checked and tested for functionality. Monthly tests to ensure an open valve are a must, and the main drain should be tested four times per year. A professional inspection should be conducted once per year. Never delay inspections.
Be sure that workers know what to do when the alarm sounds, and have an evacuation plan in place ahead of time. The plan should be reviewed regularly and posted in high-traffic areas.
Conduct fire drills as often as recommended by the local fire department. Never downplay the importance of your systems, testing them, maintaining them or conducting drills with them.
The fire evacuation plan should cover aspects such as:
Evacuation strategy – Generally, this will be simultaneous evacuation whereby all your employees will use the fire escapes to evacuate the building immediately upon hearing the fire alarm.
Escape routes – All routes should be clearly marked, easily accessible, short, direct and kept clear at all times. If you have a large premises, you may have several different routes for different areas/groups of people to ensure all your employees can exit the building quickly. Emergency apparatus – Fire escape doors should be clear and easy to operate. Emergency lighting should be provided, if necessary.
Assembly point – A designated safe meeting point should be organized for staff to congregate after evacuating. This should be a safe distance from the building and where a roll call can easily be taken.