17 Oct Fire Prevention Month: Fire Safety for Small Businesses
Reprinted from American Alarm
October is National Fire Prevention Month and while much time is devoted to raising awareness on preventing home fires, residences aren’t the only places affected. As a small business owner, you are responsible for making sure your staff and customers have a safe place to conduct business.
While a fire is unlikely, things like faulty wiring, on-site construction, or an unattended stove might lead to an unexpected blaze. A fire safety strategy is essential to make sure that your premise is protected and that your employees are prepared to facilitate evacuation during a fire.
Here’s what to consider as you develop your small business’s fire safety strategy and audit system.
Test your fire extinguishers
Portable fire extinguishers should be placed in convenient locations so employees can access them in an emergency. To ensure fire extinguishers are accessible and functional, the National Fire Prevention Agency (NFPA) recommends inspecting them every month. The inspection verifies that the extinguisher is in its designated spot and that it is well-marked, easy to locate, full, and in good condition.
Inspections don’t need to be done by a professional. The inspector should record their name and the date of inspection, and these records should be stored with the fire extinguisher in case of an audit by the fire department.
Update your alarm notification list
When your building’s fire alarm is triggered, the system will send notifications to anyone you’ve designated to receive them. This may be you, your building operations manager, your general manager, or anyone else you feel needs to be aware of an emergency.
It’s wise to check on and update your alarm notification list regularly to ensure you have removed anyone who is no longer with the business and added anyone who may have joined. Reviewing the list also gives you a chance to update any contact details that may have changed since you last checked it.
Set a calendar reminder to review and update your alarm notifications list quarterly so you can be certain that the right individuals are being notified in an emergency.
Have your emergency lights inspected
Many businesses use emergency lights to guide building occupants to exits during an emergency. These aren’t typically part of your fire system and are usually installed by an electrician. However, if your business uses them, it’s important to ensure they’re functional in case of an emergency. Depending on the layout of your space, emergency lights may line hallways, stairwells, escalators, or other exit pathways.
It is best practice to test and inspect your emergency lights every 30 days to ensure they’re working as expected. If you notice any outages or inconsistencies in lighting, this allows you to have the system serviced so it’s running effectively in the event of a fire.
Coordinate fire safety inspections
Fire safety inspections are intended to ensure that an organization’s fire alarm system is functional and compliant with the Massachusetts Fire Code. These inspections may occur at any time, but for businesses that are licensed under the Department of Public Health or the Department of Public Welfare, inspections are typically done every 3 months.
Regular testing and maintenance of your fire alarm system is crucial to ensure it is functional and ready to pass said inspections. American Alarm offers comprehensive on-site and test and inspection services as well as electronic daily testing to ensure our systems are working as expected.
Always keep records of inspections and maintenance done on any component of your fire alarm system, even if you do them yourself, as a fire inspector may request them.
Working with an experienced security partner can help simplify the management of your fire safety strategy. For instance, the American Alarm team can help coordinate necessary inspections and work with you to optimize and maintain your fire system.