It goes without saying that Fire Safety in commercial buildings, offices, and retail centers is central to preventing damage, destruction, or injury by fire. Many times building owners or managers will assume that because the fire extinguishers are up to date, that’s all they are required to do. But in actuality, Fire Safety is much more than just fire extinguishers. Implementing a comprehensive Fire Safety Policy for your building is paramount to preventing damage or injury by fire.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the local fire safety codes in your municipality prior to setting up a Fire Safety Program. Many times, your municipality will provide information online concerning associated Fire Codes that can be downloaded as well as even sending out Fire Safety Officers to your site. The following information is provided as a starting point for setting up a Fire Safety Program for your building or facility:
1. Maintaining proper fire exits as well as exit signage that functions even in a power outage.
2. Placing and maintaining the proper fire extinguishers in the correct quantity in easily accessible locations.
3. Installing, certifying, and maintaining fire alarm systems that are monitored 24 hours a day.
4. Installing and maintaining proper smoke detectors with battery back ups.
5. Installing, certifying, and maintaining fire sprinkler systems throughout your facility.
6. Inspect and insure all spray fireproofing remains intact and undamaged.
7. Secure potentially flammable materials in a fire proof storage cabinet.
8. Post the maximum occupancy for your particular building in a conspicuous public location.
9. Set up a Fire Safety Committee to implement and review fire safety rules and regulations on a monthly basis.
10. Keep a monthly logbook that tracks Fire Safety Committee attendance accordingly.
With any Fire Safety Program, it’s still very important to be vigilant and watch for common fire safety hazards. Some potential fire safety hazards to look for could include:
1. Electrical wiring or breaker boxes that are in poor condition or overloaded. There are many breaker boxes that are actually listed as fire hazards with the National Fire Protection Association and should be replaced immediately.
2. Commercial kitchen vent hoods that are not maintained and kept clean. This is one of the most common causes of restaurant fires.
3. Combustibles that are stored improperly near other equipment that generates heat or flames.
4. Flammable solvents, liquids, or rags that are not secured within a fire proof cabinet or stored near a heat source.
5. Fireplaces or chimneys that are not kept clean and maintained.
6. Commercial laundry equipment that is not on a fault protection circuit that can overheat and catch fire.
7. Supplemental heating sources that are set too close to other flammable materials.
8. Personal ignition sources such as cigarettes or matches that are inadvertently thrown near a flammable source.
With some research and education it’s not difficult to set up a comprehensive Fire Safety Program for you Office Building or Retail Space that will meet or exceed the local fire codes in your municipality. By keeping current on the changes to the local fire codes you will insure that your facility is safe and secure from potential fire hazards. Setting up a Fire Safety Committee will insure that your employees take an active educated position in the prevention of fire hazards for your Office or Retail Space.