The only things in life that are guaranteed are taxes and fire inspections….or at least that’s what we like to say here at Allegiant Fire Protection. Fire inspections are hurdles that most property and facility managers face yearly. Nobody looks forward to a visit from their local fire department, but we believe they shouldn’t have to cause unnecessary stress. In fact, with a little bit of preparation, fire inspections aren’t at all difficult to pass.
One of the major reasons for fire inspection failure is bad storage methods that pose potential fire hazards. Our professionals have compiled a list of places where storage mishaps are common among properties that fail fire inspections, along with some pointers on things to check for in each area of the building. We suggest you perform a preliminary inspection of these areas every so often to help ensure your storage methods don’t cause your next fire inspection failure and to confirm that your fire protection systems will be effective in the event of a fire:
1. General storage areas
Inspect the areas where you commonly store any sort of materials, equipment, paperwork, items, etc. If your building has storage boxes piled up from the floor, there must be an aisle every 100 feet and within 50 feet of the walls. Aisles are recommended to be between 24.5 and 44 inches wide. Additionally, make sure none of your storage boxes and materials are blocking doorways and exits/entrances. We recommend keeping all materials at least 10 feet from any door.
2. Workspaces and trash collection areas
You should make sure all workspaces and areas are clean from trash and filth. Take care to keep trash from littering the floor — both inside and immediately outside your building. For better odds of passing a fire inspection, you should ensure there are an adequate amount of outdoor and indoor trash/recycling containers, as well as specific receptacles for cigarettes. Keep these containers and receptacles away from doorways, entrances, exits, and combustible materials.
3. Combustible storage:
Improperly storing combustible materials is a common way to fail a fire inspection, especially because local laws governing acceptable storage methods of chemicals can be confusing or hard to find. Check your city’s ordinances yearly to avoid warnings or citations when it comes to your combustible materials storage. Be particularly mindful of specific local limits on the amount of combustible and flammable liquids based on the type of occupancy, in addition to specific storage arrangement requirements.
Some good things to always keep in mind are to keep combustible materials in safe, approved containers away from heating sources and as close to the ground as possible so they can’t fall. Combustible materials need to be stored at least 18 inches below standard fire sprinklers, or 36 inches below early suppression fast response sprinkler heads. If there are no sprinklers in the room or building, materials should be stored at least 24 inches below the ceiling. Propane tanks have a specific rule: Don’t store them within 20 feet of the fire exit. Similarly, aerosols have a specific set of rules dependent upon the weight and quantity of what’s being stored — rules that could require separation areas, chain-link fence enclosures, firewalls, and additional sprinkler protection.
4. Building Entrances and Exits
One of the easiest ways to help ensure you pass your yearly fire inspection is to ensure all building entrances and exits are kept clear of storage materials and boxes. It may seem obvious, but blocked doorways are actually some of the most common reasons for inspection failure. The same goes for hallways and stairways — encourage occupants or employees to keep these areas clear of storage items and trash.
5. Fire Protection Systems (Sprinklers, Alarms, Hydrants)
Make sure that absolutely no storage obstructs your fire protection systems. The same goes for shrubbery and landscaping that could be blocking the building’s outdoor fire department connection. If the building has a dedicated fire sprinkler or fire pump room, ensure nothing extra is stored in it. Additionally, you’ll need to regularly test your fire protection systems and have copies of the most recent testing and inspection reports on hand at all times in case a fire inspector asks to see them.
The professionals at Allegiant Fire Protection know that the thought of an impending inspection can cause anxiety. Instead of pulling your hair out, complete a quick preliminary inspection of the storage areas listed above. Just 20 minutes of your time could save you a fire inspection failure and all the headache that comes with it. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your fire inspection preparation, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 630-506-5535 or give us a click at allegiantfire.net.