Building Owners: Preparing for Your Annual Fire Inspection

Posted on Jun 29, 2018

Owning a building is a huge responsibility. You have a responsibility to the people who live or work in your property to provide a safe environment. One way that you can better protect your tenants is through annual fire inspections. While the process may seem a little harrowing or nerve-wracking when you’re going through it, the benefits are significant.

Benefits of Fire Inspections

While it may feel like they exist to keep you on your toes, fire inspections are an important tool for helping you maintain the value of your building. You can also enjoy these benefits from doing so:

  • Provide a safer place for building residents, clients, shoppers, vendors, etc.
  • Provide job security for employees and businesses who occupy your buildings.
  • Create a safer work environment for employees.
  • You may even enjoy reduced commercial insurance premiums for purchasing, installing, and maintaining fire-protection systems.

Preparing for your inspection, however, is the real key to success. When you’re adequately prepared, your fire inspection will be little more than a blip on your business radar.

Check Fire Suppression Equipment

Make sure you do this well ahead of the inspection, including testing the fire alarms, to make sure everything is in working order. The last thing you want is something to go wrong when a review is underway.

You must also provide all supporting documentation and certifications that your alarms and fire extinguishers have been inspected, purchased, or certified within the past year.

Your sprinkler systems, if your building has them, must have proof of inspection from a licensed contractor within the past year as well. If there are restaurants in your building, you must also have certification of service within six months for your commercial fire suppression systems and cooking heads.

Have a Clear Plan in Place for Evacuating Employees and Customers

You must have exits, walkways, and stairs free of obstructions allowing employees and customers to evacuate the building quickly if a fire breaks out in your building. You must also do the following:

  • Post emergency routes in all main sections of the building.
  • Test emergency lighting and exit signs in backup power mode.
  • Verify that doors can be easily and immediately opened from the inside.
  • Post maximum occupancy signs and enforce this policy.

The rules may appear burdensome to some business owners, but they save lives if an emergency occurs.

Storage of Flammable Materials

All combustible materials must be appropriately stored. This includes storing them away from flame-generating appliances, in approved containers and cabinets, and 18 inches below all fire sprinklers.

Keeping areas containing flammable materials clean and organized is another item fire inspectors check. So, make sure to spend a little time getting this area in order ahead of your inspection.

Preventative Maintenance of Electrical Equipment

Make sure all your electrical receptacles have the appropriate cover plates and inspect for exposed or non-insulated wiring that can lead to fires.

Also, inspect all junction boxes and circuit breakers to make sure they have the appropriate metal covers. Computer equipment must be plugged into commercial multi-outlet systems with surge protectors.

At the end of the day, fire inspections exist to ensure the safety of your building and the people who occupy it. They aren’t mean to be a distraction from your standard safety protocols — only to ensure your standard safety efforts meet minimal standards.

Planning ahead and keeping up with the building maintenance and safety tasks mentioned above throughout the year helps you have a smooth fire inspection process while providing minimal disruptions to the way your building operates.

If you are a new building owner or want to review your current commercial building insurance policy, give us a call here at Otterstedt Insurance at 201-227-1800.

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