So you have a fire alarm system, now what?
Annual Fire Inspections are a critical component of your corporate safety plan. Hiring a qualified contractor to perform routine inspections, testing and maintenance on your fire alarm and emergency alert equipment is essential in to maintain life safety of your employees, tenants or guests of your facility. In the event of an emergency, you need to be sure that your system will work as intended in order to best protect your people and your property, and to limit your liability for any potential injuries suffered during an event.
Choosing a qualified contractor to perform these annual inspections for you is a good first step. Your contractor should have a robust understanding of current Fire Code Standards and the best practice experience to keep your system up to date.
However, knowledge is power, and taking the time to understand the basics of the NFPA Referenced Standards is an excellent first step towards understanding your business's specific requirements. CodeFinder is another excellent resource - it's an online portal that showcases a map of the key codes and standards used in your area.
Like Reagan said, "trust but verify". Making sure you understand the safety requirements for your specific industry can help you choose the best contractor for your business. You should trust their knowledge and integrity, that they will keep your business safe and not abuse your budget. (This section is just screaming for a "blowing smoke" joke but I'm working hard to sidestep the temptation).
Understanding the regulatory environment that surrounds public safety will also, hopefully, illuminate a deeper understanding of how these laws and policies are a benefit, not a burden, to business owners. At their core, they are intended to keep you safe. And it's hard to find fault with that.
Unfortunately, strict compliance with safety codes alone will not protect your facility against Murphy. There is no single answer to safety, according to NFPA President, Jim Pauley, but "by recommitting to and promoting the full safety ecosystem of prevention, protection and education...we can help save lives and reduce loss".
It's a message that encourages ownership - what can you be doing to better protect your people and property? Where do you fit in to the Safety Ecosystem and how can you influence it to best protect your business?
Glad you asked!
1. Make Safety a Priority: When using and enforcing codes, training your workers or even choosing products, safety should be a top consideration. Life safety measures should never be disregarded to save a few dollars - uninformed decisions made with a desire to cut costs can lead to both expensive and disastrous consequences.
2. Maintain a Skilled Workforce: Your people are your greatest asset - give them the knowledge to help you in your efforts to maintain a safe working environment and then hold them accountable for enforcing those procedures. OSHA offers FREE online classes and there are many local opportunities offered at no, or minimal costs. And don't forget to take advantage of the system training offered by your Fire Inspection Vendor! Most reputable vendors offer free system training to customer selected POCs.
3. Ensure Code Compliance: Whether it's an existing or brand new system, ensuring code compliance is a critical step in the safety ecosystem. The places people live and work are only as safe as the systems and code compliance in place. Choose a low voltage contractor that you trust to install and maintain your fire detection and life safety systems.
Above all else, make sure you understand what, and why, you're having installed! Ask questions, request training, or use any of the free resources listed above.