Important Fire Regulations for All Commercial Buildings
In a commercial building, fire safety regulations can affect hundreds of people every day. Employees, customers, contractors, sales people, visitors — anyone who enters your facility must have a reasonable expectation that fire safety measures are in place. There are very specific local, state and federal regulations you must follow to maintain a safe and protected commercial area. However, there are some fundamental regulations and concepts that can be applied in almost all situations to ensure a basic level of fire safety throughout your building.
Here are some fire regulations for commercial buildings, and how they can benefit you and the people in your commercial facility.
Maintain Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors
If a fire has started in your building, it’s critically important that occupants be warned as quickly as possible. Fire alarms and smoke detectors are vital components of this early warning system.
- Fire Alarms: Fire regulations for commercial buildings typically require that fire alarms be installed and regularly tested to ensure they’ll activate when needed. Automatic fire alarms activate when the temperature inside a room or area exceeds a specified limit. Manual fire alarms can be activated by pulling or pressing a bar, button, lever, or handle. Fire alarms must be located in easily reached areas of the building and be accessible to individuals with disabilities. They are usually painted red to make them easy to locate and identify. When the alarm is activated, it should produce an audible alert that can be heard throughout the facility.
- Smoke alarms: Similar to fire alarms, smoke alarms activate when they detect smoke or the chemical components of smoke in the air. These are beneficial because they can sound an alarm before flames are present, or when the fire is still smoldering. Smoke alarms should also be regularly tested and maintained to ensure they’re working properly.
Maintain Sprinklers and Fire Suppression Systems
Fire regulations for commercial buildings also covers the sprinklers or the fire suppression systems that are intended to put out fires, or at least help control them. Sprinkler systems use water to fight against fires, while other types of suppression systems might use foam or a chemical material that smothers fires. In most cases, these systems are installed within the ceiling and are designed to activate when room temperatures exceed a predetermined threshold. Sprinklers will often contain a tiny bulb or filament that breaks when the temperature gets too hot, which activates the sprinklers. Fire regulations for commercial buildings also require that these systems be regularly tested and properly maintained.
Tend to Stairwells and Exits
- Stairwells and exits should be kept clear of any objects, blockages, or hazards that could impede travel and prevent individuals from getting out of the building.
- Stairwells should be clearly marked with exit signs, and emergency lighting should be installed at appropriate intervals along the length of the stairwell. Stairwells should also have handrails installed for safety and to help people find their way out in case the stairwell is filled with smoke. Stairwells should lead to a safe gathering place outside the building.
- Exits should be clearly marked with signage that indicates the location of exit doors. Exit signs should be illuminated and have built-in batteries to keep the signs lit in case the power goes out in the building. Exit doors should not be locked, blocked, or chained in case of an emergency. Panic bars should be functional, and doors should swing outward easily. Emergency evacuation pathways should be indicated by markings on the floor or by clearly posted signs and exit route diagrams.
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 regulations for commercial buildings, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!