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How To Prepare For Your Next Fire Safety Inspection
1. Educate yourself on fire codes and ordinances that apply to your area.
Fire codes, standards, and ordinances dictate what requirements need to be met within your buildings. They also highlight what types of fire protection equipment need to be installed to maintain compliance.
Did you know that every state and local government has its own fire code? This is why it’s important to have some understanding of ordinances that apply within your jurisdiction. You’ll also need to stay up-to-date on international fire codes, as set forth by the International Code Council. Abiding by codes will help your organization avoid violations, written warnings, or even costly fines.
2. Establish a relationship with your local fire department and emergency rescue teams.
Police officers, medical personnel and other emergency services do their best to assist civilians in case of an emergency. However, these teams can’t possibly know everything about your building unless you share it with them.
Did you know that fire departments and rescue squads benefit greatly from knowing your building’s floor plans?
These documents show the best ways to enter your building to get to a threat quickly, safely and efficiently.
Provide your floor plans, contact information and door access codes with your local fire department today. Start establishing a close relationship with the fire department by asking what your organization can do to make their jobs easier in an emergency situation. They’ll be glad you asked.
- Pro Tip: Don’t have time to update your floor plans? A data collection service team can do the work for you. They’ll walk your buildings, collect space and asset data, and create two-dimensional models of your plans. This information can be integrated with a facility management software that acts as a visual mapping tool to show the location of critical fire/life safety assets in an emergency.
Show your business continuity team, building managers and local emergency personnel the locations of the following within and around your building:
- Emergency exits
- Exterior doors and windows
- Locations of fire extinguishers
- Fire alarm pull station locations
- Assembly points for personnel
3. Ensure that egress plans are up-to-date and posted throughout your buildings.
An egress plan is a map of a facility that houses critical indicators such as posted emergency routes, evacuation paths and red exit signs that lead to stairs and doorways. Even if occupants have never done a fire drill at the facility, it should be obvious where to go in an emergency.
OSHA states that a workplace must have at least two exit routes to permit prompt evacuation of employees and other building occupants during an emergency. More than two exits are required if the number of employees, size of the building or arrangement of the workplace will impede evacuation in case of a fire.
- Check out these free resources! Download “How to Create An Egress Plan” for steps on how to create or update your egress plans. For more insight on updating your floor plans, contact a company that specializes in facility management for advice on how to create the most accurate floor plan models of your buildings.
4. Take advantage of the resources provided by fire safety organizations.
Annual inspections are performed by fire departments to assess and mitigate fire- and life-safety risks in your building. Most fire departments provide a written report of any corrections that are necessary to increase safety for your occupants. Inspections vary in type and frequency (depending on your jurisdiction, city and state).
If you’re looking to become a true fire safety guru, it’s a good idea to get acquainted with industry resources that will give you the insight you need to be successful. We’ve assembled a list of trustworthy organizations that will provide you with a wealth of information on fire safety, inspections and compliance.
- The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website is a one-stop-shop for information on fire codes, electrical safety, industry research, training, certifications and more. You’ll also find free tools and resources to help your organization achieve excellence in fire/life safety. Don’t forget to check out the NFPA 101: Life Safety Code book.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides a variety of information on fire safety standards, hazards and solutions and safety training. Here’s a list of OSHA publications and documents on fire safety that you might like to read.
- The International Code Council (ICC) is considered an industry leader when it comes to building codes and standards. The ICC offers a wide array of building safety services including evaluation, accreditation, certification, codification and training. Remember to read the ICC’s guide to the International Fire Code.®
Fire inspections may seem inconvenient and stressful in the moment, but what’s far worse is the severe damage a fire can cause within your building. Organizations can struggle to recover from fire damage, so it’s best to remain compliant with appropriate fire safety protocols from the get-go.
Don’t delay; fire safety standards can save lives, significant money, and your organization’s future.