Fire Protection Readiness
One of the most costly and devastating events for a company or organization is a fire. Scheduling regular fire protection monthly inspection and tests overseen by you or someone in your business can help ensure that your fire prevention systems are ready when needed. Conducting preventive maintenance tasks can also help make sure your fire protection systems are in good working order and make yearly testing and inspections a breeze!
Every business should establish its testing schedule to comply with external regulations or internal procedures. A fire protection monthly inspection checklist is a form used by property owners or managers to verify the operational reliability of fire protection devices installed in their properties. It aims to ensure national fire safety code standards are observed.
Visual inspections are part of the inspection, testing, and maintenance required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and each area within your system has different guidelines and timelines. NFPA defines an inspection as “a visual examination of a system or portion there of to verify that it appears to be in operating condition and is free of physical damage.” As a general rule, make sure all fire protection equipment is unobstructed and accessible. A fire protection expert from A P Fire Protection can help point out what else you need to look for in a monthly inspection. However, for annual, semi‑annual, or quarterly inspection requirements, we will need to send out an experienced, certified technician to your business.
Pulls Detectors, Notifiers & Emergency Lights
Often your first line of defense, pulls, detectors, notifiers (horns, strobes & sounders) and emergency lights are the first to know when a fire has ignited. Pulls or detectors send a signal to your fire panel which raises the alarm, sending an internal signal to your alarm system and an external signal to first responders and your monitoring company. When these devices are obstructed, dirty or not working properly, this could cost you valuable seconds in response, creating more time for the fire to spread. at each monthly inspection you should take the steps below to provide the quickest response possible.
Schedule tests of smoke detectors, fire alarms and emergency lights at least once a month per the U.S Fire Administration. Set a calendar reminder to check the performance of these items on a day or week when you are generally less busy. By scheduling in your downtime, you can negate any potential to put off your testing because another task is demanding your attention.
To test, hold the test button on each device and wait for the signal. If the light is weak/does not illuminate or you do not hear anything after a few seconds, take note of the location on your report. Batteries must be replaced every 6 months in smoke detectors not connected to a fire alarm panel. It is important to make sure the new batteries inserted are fresh, so it is always important to test a smoke detector once the batteries are replaced. It is also important to note that emergency lights are required to be equipped with a battery backup, however, these will need to be tested by a professional during an annual inspection.
In addition, detectors, notifiers and emergency lights should be cleaned at least quarterly to prevent dirt and dust build-up and obstructions moved out of the way. This will help ensure the quickest detection and warning in case of a fire. Be sure to use only a soft cloth and light pressure when cleaning to avoid damaging your equipment. Dampen the cloth with warm water when needed.
Lastly, confirm that fire departments and your monitoring company are properly receiving notifications when your fire alarm system is being tested. After you’ve completed these steps, schedule work as needed with the fire protection professionals at A P Fire Protection for further testing and troubleshooting, maintenance and repairs to ensure sensors and wiring are all functioning correctly.
Fire Sprinkler Systems
NFPA 25 provides the criteria for the routine activities that must be conducted to ensure that water-based fire protection systems, such as automatic sprinklers systems, can be relied upon in the event of a fire. It also outlines the required areas for visual inspections on sprinkler systems as valves, backflows, gauges, standpipes, fire pumps and sprinklers. During your monthly inspection you should be looking for:
- • Leakage
- • Corrosion detrimental to sprinkler performance
- • Physical damage
- • Loss of fluid in the glass bulb heat-responsive element
- • Loading (dust and other environmental debris) detrimental to sprinkler performance
- • Paint other than that applied by the sprinkler manufacturer
- • Sprinklers installed in the incorrect orientation
- • Minimum clearance to storage is maintained
Any signs of physical damage or noncompliance could affect the effectiveness of your system. Monthly visual inspections should be carried out on all parts of the system you can access and/or see from the floor. This means that typically there should be no special equipment needed for these routine inspections such as ladders or lifts. Furthermore, NFPA 25 clearly states that sprinklers located in concealed spaces such as above suspended ceilings do not require inspection though any sprinklers that cannot be accessed for inspection should be noted on inspection reports. On the other hand, make sure escutcheons (sprinkler covers) are flush to the ceiling (they serve a purpose beyond looking pretty!).
In most instances, loading on fire sprinkler components can be cleaned using a dry soft cloth or one dampened by warm water. Nonetheless, you may want to leave this step to the professionals as sprinkler head bulbs can be easily damaged when appropriate care is not taken.
Kitchen fire suppression system inspections are vital to safety. In any size kitchen, the restaurant hood fire suppression systems acquire a grease and grime build-up. This build-up, when not cleaned regularly, will eventually clog the nozzles meant to disperse wet chemicals over the source of a stove, fryer, or grill fire to put the fire out. This causes a serious fire hazard in commercial kitchens. During your visual inspection, make sure caps are in place, check system pressure and note any build up on nozzles and hood filters. You should also verify that no appliances have moved or changed positions, as the nozzles installed are designed for use over specific appliances and determined area. Depending on use, you may need to perform a weekly visual inspection.
Maintenance & Cleaning
Likewise, maintenance and cleaning schedules are also determined by frequency of use; every six months is typical for most facilities, every three months for heavy use, annually for low use (e.g., event spaces, seasonal facilities, etc.). APFP does not provide cleaning services for kitchen hoods, but we do provide other maintenance services. Cooking equipment is the leading cause of fires, accounting for three out of five structure fires.
OSHA regulations mandate that commercial businesses must inspect their portable fire extinguishers monthly. Sometimes referred to as a visual inspection, monthly inspections can be executed by employees who have received proper training. Every month, you should complete a visual check of your fire extinguishers to make sure that they are still functional in the following areas –
Location & Accessibility
All portable fire extinguishers should be unobstructed, easy to see, and easy to reach. If the extinguisher is blocked or unreachable, any obstructions should be moved or the extinguisher itself should be relocated where it will be more accessible.
Gauge Pressure Reading
A disposable fire extinguisher has a plastic head with a gauge that reads “full” or “empty”. Rechargeable extinguishers have a metal head with a gauge that shows the level of charge.
For a rechargeable extinguisher, the needle of the pressure gauge should be pointing to the green indicator, known as the operating zone. If the needle is below the operating zone, the extinguisher has lost pressure and needs to be recharged by a professional. If the needle is above the operating zone, it has too much pressure and is at risk of a leak or a cylinder failure (read: explosion). Call us right away if the pressure gauge is outside of the operating zone in either direction for service.
Check the inspection tag to see when the last annual inspection took place. If your inspection date is getting close, make a note to call and schedule this year’s maintenance and inspection. If there is no tag, the extinguisher should be inspected to avoid any issues. After your inspection is complete, our technician will attach an updated inspection tag punched with the month, year, the type of extinguisher and the service performed.
Finally, the exterior of the extinguisher needs to be checked thoroughly for damage or corrosion. Check that the instruction label is present and easy to read. The serial number should also be legible. Look for dents and punctures, as well as paint removal and rust. The hose should be unobstructed, securely fastened to the side of the extinguisher and free of cracks or other damage. Tamper seals are required and indicate if anyone has attempted to use or discharge the unit. Tamper seals are placed around the locking pin and secured around the handle. They may look similar to a zip tie, but they break easily with a little bit of force. You cannot secure an extinguisher with a zip tie! If any extinguishers are damaged or tampered with, have them inspected immediately.
Document Your Findings
Most inspection tags provided space to record monthly inspections. Sign your name or initials and date of inspection to confirm that it has been done. After you’ve completed your inspection and signed off, write a report detailing any issues and whether any actions have been taken to remedy them. Your report should include your name, date, and location of the extinguisher that needs service.
Egress & Evacuation
OSHA strongly recommends (and in some cases requires) businesses to have an emergency action plan in place. EAPs designate roles and responsibilities to employees during emergencies, and are designed to help organizations facilitate safe evacuations. If you have more than 10 employees your plan must be written, kept in the workplace, and available for employee review. In certain instances OSHA standard also requires that an egress map be posted throughout your facility,
If an evacuation from your building is required due to an emergency such as a fire alarm, gas leak, natural disaster or any other reason, occupants should always remember to stay calm, do not rush, and do not panic. The best way to achieve this is to practice. Fire alarm drills should be implemented on at least a monthly basis.
Furthermore, it is recommended that each department/business unit in a building identify a few department members who will act as evacuation coordinators. These evacuation coordinators should:
- • Assist other department members, including those needing assistance, in evacuating the building, including – if safe to do so – checking restrooms as they are exiting; and
- • Be able to do a “head-count” of evacuated personnel and identify to Emergency Personnel any individuals who do not appear to be present at the evacuation assembly area.
In addition, it is important that all employees be aware of the locations of alternate exits and keep exit routes free and clear of obstructions. Each egress map should designate two assembly areas that are at least 500 feet away from the building where employees and others should assemble upon evacuation as a “Main Assembly Area” and an “Alternate Assembly Area”, in the event the Main Area cannot be used.
Preventing Fire Damage with a monthly inspection
You can prevent fire damage, injury and death with these maintenance tips. Contact A P Fire Protection to discuss these services. A representative will work with you to schedule services to meet the code requirements, the requirements of the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), and your facilities’ particular needs.
If your business has been damaged by fire or smoke, contact APFP for reliable service to replace damaged or deployed fire protection units. Our emergency response technician can be reached 24/7 at 623-772-5344 and we can be onsite within two hours to help mitigate any damage and work towards a smooth recovery.
Whether you own a business or manage a building, maintaining the safety of employees, clients and all other occupants is paramount. Having a network of fire detection and prevention equipment is key, but they must work properly in order to do so. Make a monthly check-in with your fire prevention systems a to-do and be one step ahead when disaster strikes.