Are you ready for your annual fire inspection? More likely than not, as a business owner, you are probably stressed at the prospect of a conflict with the fire marshall, but there are steps you can take to better prepare for your business’s inspection. The professionals at Allegiant Fire Protection know that an impending fire inspection can feel daunting, which is why we’ve created this guide for complying with your business’s annual fire inspection.
First and foremost, it’s important to remember why the fire department is coming to inspect your business: To make sure there are no fire or life-safety hazards in your building. Knowing the purpose of the inspection is vital to preparation. After all, your goal in passing the inspection is to mitigate potential hazards, and we recommend keeping this in mind while you prepare your business for inspection.
Something else to remember while you prepare is that while fire inspections are viewed negatively by business owners, they do have some upsides. Try reorienting your mindset from one of stress and dread, to one that welcomes a fire inspection that can help ensure the safety of both your business and the lives of your employees. The safer working environment also promotes the safety of consumers/clients, and can raise the resale value of the the building. And finally, compliance with your fire inspection might lower your insurance premiums — but check with your specific carrier or agent for more information on this.
Fire inspection requirements vary from city to city and state to state. Depending on where your business is located, the frequency, inspection type and procedural steps will likely differ. Make sure you check your jurisdiction’s specific requirements (usually on the fire department’s website, or with a quick call to the fire marshall) so there are no surprises. You’ll also want to make sure you have a good understanding of your jurisdiction’s codes, since the inspection will be geared towards bringing your business “up to code.” This way, you can remedy a problem before it becomes costly. For example, if you know that you don’t have the proper fire alarm, you can fix this issue before the fire inspector comes and avoid the extra red tape and a potential fine.
After reviewing the codes and requirements for your business’s jurisdiction, you’ll want to complete a brief inspection of things your fire inspector will check:
1. Access and Premises
- ● Building address should be visible from the street
- ● Make sure exterior entrances are clear
- ● Fire hydrants should be accessible and visible
2. Means of Egress
- ● Make sure exit doors are visible, accessible and functional
- ● Exit doors should open easily from the inside without a key or any special instructions
- ● All required fire doors should be self-closing
- ● Make sure circuits are labelled on control panels
- ● Electrical panels need at least 30 inches of clear space in front of them for better access
- ● All extension cords must be in condition, used only for small devices and grounded
- ● Extension cords must only be used for temporary power
- ● Cover plates need to be installed on all electrical receptacles
4. Egress Lighting
- ● All exit routes should be properly illuminated while the building is occupied
- ● Double check to make sure emergency lighting units are operable and sufficient to light means of egress
- ● All exit signs should be illuminated and their back-up batteries should be tested to ensure functionality
5. Fire Extinguishers
- ● As a guideline, fire extinguishers should be installed within 75 feet of all areas of the building, and they should be visible and accessible
- ● Make sure extinguishers meet the minimum rating and are properly installed at the correct height on the wall (no more than five feet above the floor)
- ● Extinguishers should have been inspected within the last twelve months and tagged by an approved agency
6. Fire Alarm Systems
- ● Make sure you are completing an annual fire alarm test and can provide documentation of completion
7. Fire Sprinkler System
- ● Check the height of storage below fire sprinklers (needs to be at least 18 inches below the sprinklers)
- ● Similar to fire alarms, the sprinkler system needs to be checked annually, and you should keep records of completion for this as well
8. Appliances and Devices
- ● If your building uses portable heaters, there needs to be at least 36 inches of clear space on all sides of each heater
- ● Gas-fired heat-producing appliances need properly installed and maintained vents
9. Building Areas
- ● Make sure you are removing all trash from the building each day so it doesn’t accumulate
- ● Oily or greasy rags need to be stored in approved metal containers
- ● All combustible materials must be stored away from entrance and exit ways and in an orderly fashion
- ● Combustible decorations should be treated and coated appropriately
- ● Make sure interior finishes meet code requirements
- ● All compressed gas tanks must be secured to prevent them from tipping over
10. Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Alarms
- ● Ensure that smoke detectors are operating correctly with batteries that work
- ● Check that carbon-monoxide alarms are functional
Here at Allegiant Fire Protection, we know fire inspections can bring stress and dread to a business owner’s life, especially if the inspector turns up unannounced (in which case you are completely within your right to ask for a reschedule). With a little bit of preparation, though, you can help the inspection go as smoothly as possible. Above all else, make sure you are ready and forthcoming with prior inspection reports for your business’s building and equipment. As long as you express a commitment to safety and work positively with the fire department, your fire inspection will undoubtedly be a success.
Allegiant Fire Protection LLC, delivers exceptional fire protection services to businesses throughout the greater Chicago area. Services include the design, installation and service of fire alarm systems, as well as offsite alarm monitoring. The firm’s NICET-certified technicians also inspect and test all fire protection systems. Allegiant Fire Protection is a privately held firm located in Aurora, IL. For more information about our services, call 630-506-5535 or visit us online at allegiantfire.net.