Is your fire protection system ready?

Each day, millions of us leave the comfort of our homes and head to work at hospitals, schools, office buildings, malls, etc. As we enter these facilities, the fire protection and sprinkler systems are most likely not the first things on our minds. In fact, we may think even less about the fact that our lives and the lives of those around us may one day depend on the flawless operation of these systems should a fire occur. Nestled within ceiling tiles and hidden behind doors, your building’s fire protection system remains out of sight, out of mind. And unlike its electric, heating, or cooling counterparts, the fire protection system is the only one that you hope you never have to use.

That being said, our life-safety systems should remain top of mind when it comes to preventative maintenance, inspection, and code compliance. If you are a building owner or representative whose job it is to maintain the fire protection system in your facility, here are four easy steps you can take to ensure your system will be ready and effective in case of fire:

Know the Codes: It’s important that you have a general understanding of your local fire codes and how they apply to your particular building.  You can contact your local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in the community your building resides, usually the local fire department, or get a copy of sprinkler and fire alarm codes from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This information will help you understand what you need to do to maintain and service the fire protection system in your building.  Having a qualified sprinkler and/or fire alarm service company to partner with you and help you digest the local codes is extremely helpful.

Maintenance and Inspection:  Choose a licensed maintenance and inspection contractor who knows your building’s fire protection system and will utilize NFPA guidelines to perform the inspections necessary to keep you in compliance with local codes.  It is important to find a service provider with which you can build a business relationship based on dependability, trust, and experience.  Your chosen provider should offer you 24-hour emergency service with immediate response to your life-safety system needs, keep meticulous records of every inspection, and, as a matter of course, send inspection documentation to your local AHJ.

Review Your Reports:  Be sure to review all inspection reports with your service representative before they leave your site.  Often, discrepancies such as office furniture blocking fire protection equipment, ceiling height changes affecting sprinkler heads, or troubles in the case of fire alarm systems, are not noted on the inspection reports. Most of these minor repairs can be fixed with little time or expense and many service companies will carry commonly replaced items, such as smoke detectors or sprinkler heads, in their trucks.

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork:  Keep all records of any maintenance, repair, inspections, or changes to your fire protection system. Keep these documents in a fire safe or offsite, if possible. If you have to make any changes to the system after initial installation due to new codes, repairs, changes in the physical environment, or you have the unfortunate mishap of a fire or fire-related event, you will have records of your maintenance for the local authorities or insurance companies to use.

Maintaining a code-compliant and operational fire protection system is not an arduous task. With proper record keeping, knowledge of local codes, and a partnership with a licensed service provider, you can keep your building and its occupants safe in case of fire.

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