Fire Protection System Dos and Don’ts for Commercial Buildings
A fire protection system is a vital component of any commercial building. Without a fire protection system, your employees, customers, office equipment, merchandise and tangible assets are placed at serious risk. As you work together with your fire protection professional, inspector and supplier, keep in mind some of the following dos and don’ts of an effective fire protection system for a commercial building.
Fire alarms, including smoke detectors, are your first line of defense against the potential devastation that a fire could cause in your commercial building.
- Do: Ensure that your fire alarm system is inspected regularly according to the appropriate local, state or federal regulations.
- Do: Test your fire alarms on a regular basis. If required, make sure the alarms are tested by a licensed and qualified individual.
- Do: Maintain all documentation on your fire alarm system, including operation manuals, inspection records and details of maintenance or repair visits.
- Do: Make sure your employees know exactly what to do in case the fire alarm sounds. Establish facility evacuation and fire safety procedures, mark out and post illustrations of evacuation routes and schedule fire drills and reminder training as appropriate.
- Don’t: Downplay the necessity of fire alarm inspections and maintenance or the importance of knowing what to do when a fire alarm goes off. It’s often easy to ignore a fire alarm or not take it seriously, but doing so could be the biggest, and potentially the last, mistake a building occupant could make.
Fire Extinguishers and Suppression Systems
Fire extinguishers give individuals the tools necessary to fight small fires and put them out before significant damage occurs. Larger fire suppression systems, such as overhead sprinklers or foam systems, are designed to put out large fires and protect bigger areas of your facility.
- Do: Maintain the number and type of fire extinguishers required by your type of business and by appropriate regulations.
- Do: Keep fire extinguishers available at space intervals that will not require anyone to have to travel more than 75 feet to find an extinguisher.
- Do: Keep fire extinguishers inspected and maintained so that they will work when needed.
- Do: Inspect and test fire suppression systems on a regular schedule as required by regulations.
- Do: Perform required regular tests and checks on your sprinkler system. For example, monthly tests should include making sure operation valves are open. Quarterly tests should include a main drain test. Annual testing should include a careful inspection by a qualified professional.
- Don’t: Put off inspections, maintenance or recharging of fire extinguishers or fire suppression systems. The quicker you have these systems back in service after an inspection or use, the safer your facility will be.
- Don’t: Neglect basic training for your employees in fire extinguisher use. Conduct training in-house or contact your local fire department or safety authority for help. Emergency Lighting During a fire, storm, flood or other emergency, the lighting in your commercial facility could go out, along with the electrical power. Make sure you have an emergency lighting system in place to provide the amount of lighting and power you’ll need during any critical event.
- Do: Make sure there are emergency lights that are designed to activate when the main electrical power goes out. This should include exit signs with internal batteries.
- Do: Test emergency lights and exit signs regularly or as required by regulation. This can often be done simply by pressing the “test” button on these devices.
- Don’t: Miss any part of an emergency lighting test or inspection. Often inspections will require a two-phase test, one 30-second minimal function test (performed monthly) and a 90-minute test (usually performed annually).
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on fire protection system procedures for your commercial building, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!