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The Essential Fire Safety Checklist for Commercial Buildings

In 2022, there were 140,000 fires in non-residential buildings, causing $4 billion in damages and 150 deaths. A robust fire safety plan can safeguard lives and protect your business if you manage a commercial space. Here’s what to include in this fire safety plan.

Protecting Your Investments

According to FEMA, 40 percent of businesses cannot reopen after a natural disaster, but fire safety can help you avoid this outcome. Let’s explore the leading causes of commercial fires and the key components of an effective fire safety checklist.

Common Causes of Fires

In industrial properties, electrical distribution and light equipment cause the most fires, whereas heat is the leading cause in manufacturing properties. Common causes of warehouse fires include smoking, electrical machinery, storage practices (such as with flammable liquids), or extension cable overload. Other causes include sprinkler obstructions, doorway blockages, flammable trash or debris, and out-of-service fire equipment.

What to Include in a Fire Safety Checklist

A successful fire safety plan requires routine maintenance, inspections, and training. Follow this checklist to ensure maximum protection:

1.   Safety System Maintenance

Inspect all safety equipment routinely, including smoke alarms, fire doors, sprinklers, and fire extinguishers. Replace batteries and resolve malfunctions as necessary.

2.   Emergency Lights and Exit Signs

In the event of a fire, emergency lights and exit signs will help direct occupants to safety, so inspect them routinely to ensure they are visible and operational. Exit signs and emergency lights should be able to function on both regular and backup power sources.

3.   Easy Building Egress

Confirm that emergency exits are unlocked, then clear the hallways leading to these exits. Make sure all employees know the correct evacuation routes to follow.

4.   Emergency Personnel Access

Building codes require firefighters to have direct access to the premises. To comply with this, mount fire department lock boxes on the building’s exterior and ensure firefighters can reach the fire hydrants. There should be at least three feet of space on all sides of the hydrants, so remember to keep any vehicles from blocking them.

5.   Fire Extinguishers

Place fire extinguishers in easily accessible areas throughout the building. Regularly check their pressure levels and expiration dates and train employees to use them. OSHA requires portable extinguishers to be wall-mounted, not kept on the floor.

 6.   Fire-Rated Doors

Fire-rated doors can withstand both fire and smoke. Inspect them for damage, optimal closure, and structural integrity. Fire doors to areas with telephone or power equipment should remain closed. Other fire doors should close automatically when a fire activates the alarm.

7.   Sprinkler Systems

Regularly inspect and maintain the indoor fire sprinklers to ensure they will function correctly in an emergency. At least 18 inches of vertical clearance should be between a sprinkler head and any other materials stored beneath it.

8.   Flammable and Combustible Materials

Store all flammable materials in approved containers away from boilers, electrical rooms, or other heat-producing areas. Keep these combustible items away from heat-producing appliances, such as heaters or stoves.

9.   Incompatible Chemical Storage

When mixed with other substances, incompatible materials (like ammonia and bleach) form a chemical reaction that could cause a fire or gas explosion. Store incompatible chemicals at least 20 feet apart or separate them with a noncombustible partition.

10.   Heat Systems    

To lower the risk of heat-related fires, perform regular maintenance on all heated appliances or manufacturing equipment such as boilers, furnaces, ovens, and stoves.

Protect Your Business With this Fire Safety Checklist

A thorough fire safety checklist is the best defense against commercial fires. Routine inspections, employee training, and compliance with the latest safety protocols and building codes must be prioritized. Precautionary measures can make all the difference when an emergency occurs, so be vigilant and protect your investment from the threat of fire.

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