Some two years ago, a very surprising survey conducted by the Society of Fire Protection Engineers discovered some two-thirds of Americans feel much more protected at home from fires than in a commercial or public building.
Moreover, nearly 60 percent felt the materials used to build and furnish their homes made them feel safer.
Like previously reported data from the U.S. Fire Administration, however, the most current numbers available from the National Fire Protection Association for non-residential structural fires have remained fairly consistent and on the low side from 2010-13.
Preventing fires by having the proper life safety and protection systems in place is one of a facilities manager’s more critical and time-consuming responsibilities due to testing.
Why? Rules and requirements change depending on the jurisdiction and codes, with multiple tests likely necessary, especially at the acceptance phase when new fire systems are being installed. Codes and their compliance can also shift as the occupants of your facility come and go.
And, there can be exceptions when local code amendments require fire safety changes to address deficiencies (that could be related to a previous death).
So, how do you keep all of these rules and regulations straight (assuming there’s no credentialed fire safety professional on your staff), protect the safety of occupants and maintain your productivity in the process?
1. Get ahead of the curve by thoroughly reviewing the standards and codes developed by the National Fire Protection Association that govern new installations and upgrades of fire/life safety systems. Having that working knowledge helps when selecting fire safety professionals too.
2. Develop a checklist with the understanding that each facility is a different animal, thus requirements for one won’t be the same for another.
3. Look at fixing obvious things, like emergency exit doors that lock people out except at the bottom floor.
4. Create preventative policies that govern how contractors do problematic “hot work” that involves grinding, welding and cutting.
5. Promote the value of scheduled fire drills among your tenants and office workers. A fire drill is a minor, momentary inconvenience compared to the value of a human life.
For assistance with fire safety at your facility, contact Vanguard Resources.