Commercial fire safety features in buildings are often thought to be purely physical, such as fire sprinkler equipment, fire alarms, and fire extinguishers, but those are fire safety measures that work only when there is a fire. What about fire prevention and safety measures for building fire prevention?
If you are not certain what the most important fire safety measures for prevention are in your multi-site retail stores, restaurants, grocery stores, big box stores, or distribution centers, AIE’s team of experts have detailed the Top 7 Fire Safety Features for Prevention here.
Top Fire Prevention and Safety Measures in Commercial Buildings
FIRE SAFETY FEATURE #1
Building Access and Emergency Evacuation Routes
Open spaces in buildings are one of the most essential fire safety measures for fire prevention and management. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), require doors, windows, and all access into and out of your buildings is continually clear so occupants can use emergency evacuation routes to get out easily, and the fire department can get in.
Make sure your facilities have unobstructed fire doors, overhead doors, and other exterior doors, hallways, pathways, stairways, windows, and outdoor areas such fire hydrant paths. These zones cannot be blocked by anything – shopping carts, deliveries, vehicles, trash receptacles, or landscaping. By practicing this every day, you cover one of the most vital fire safety features in buildings.
FIRE SAFETY FEATURE #2
Fire Safety Exit Signs & Fire Alarms
As important as unblocked exits are to fire safety, people finding the exits is an equally important safety measure in your buildings. NFPA 101 requires exit signage and lighting be continually illuminated and easily seen, even in a power outage. Exit signs must be bright and free from obstruction, emergency lighting units functional, and exit signs and lighting backup batteries should be fully charged and reliable.
Fire alarm systems go hand in hand with exiting the building during a fire or other emergencies. These fire prevention systems in buildings include the fire alarms themselves, all components that make them work, those that feed into the alarms, and those that are connected to them (fire sprinklers, smoke detectors, heat detectors, evacuation systems, etc.). They detect and alert people to many different life-threatening and property-damaging hazards besides fire, from carbon monoxide poisoning and leaky pipes to severe weather and active shooters (NFPA 3000), therefore, it is critical that they function 100% of the time.
FIRE SAFETY FEATURE #3
Practice Good Daily Habits for Building Fire Prevention
There are countless areas in the workplace where fire hazards can cultivate. Whether you own or manage grocery stores, distribution centers, retail stores, or restaurants, fire safety prevention depends on diligence, training, and good habits.
10 simple measures to practice daily to minimize fire hazards:
- Trash/waste is properly stowed in trash/recycling bins, not piled up in any area, especially doorways.
- Extension cords are not in permanent use; those that are should be industrial grade and grounded.
- All power strips are UL listed with built-in circuit breakers.
- Cigarette butts and containers are away from the building, shrubbery, and flammable materials.
- Combustible materials/liquids are stored securely in approved cabinet per NFPA/OSHA regulations.
- Electrical appliances are GFCI protected; nothing hot is on without someone in attendance.
- Nothing is hanging from fire sprinkler piping or sprinkler heads.
- Fire pump rooms/riser rooms are 100% free of anything other than fire protection equipment.
- All supplies/stock/merchandise are at least 3 ft. from heating units and ductwork.
- All fire extinguishers are fully charged, not damaged, and readily accessible; none are missing.
In 2018, there was a 55% increase in non-cooking related, unintentionally/carelessly set fires in commercial buildings. U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA’s) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS)
FIRE SAFETY FEATURE #4
Preventative Inspections & Maintenance for Fire Protection Systems
Caring for the lives of your buildings’ occupants is your number one priority. Since you can’t predict when a fire might threaten those lives, preventative fire protection system inspections are your best deterrence against a faulty system that may not operate properly when needed.
There are also hefty fines for not following NFPA 72 inspection standards and your local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) regulations, as well as the International Code Council (ICC) codes and those of your insurance company.
Preventative, regularly scheduled inspections are required for:
- Fire sprinkler systems
- Backflow preventer assemblies
- Fire suppression systems
- Kitchen hood suppression systems
- Fire alarms
- Fire extinguishers
- Alarms, monitors, detectors
These inspections will discover anything that is not in working order so maintenance can be performed. Keeping your fire protection systems functional is essential to building fire prevention and stopping fire before it spreads.
Only one sprinkler head operated in four out of five (79%) fires in which sprinklers operated. In 97% of fires with operating sprinklers, five or fewer heads operated. – 2017 NFPA U.S. Sprinkler Experience Report
FIRE SAFETY FEATURE #5
Train Staff on Workplace Fire Prevention & Safety Measures
A common cause of fire is human error. This can come in the form of negligence, accidental mishaps, improper use of equipment, or lack of fire safety training.
The primary step to protecting your retail stores, grocery stores, big box stores, warehouses, restaurants, or distribution centers and their occupants from fire is to educate staff members on the causes of fire, train them how to use fire extinguishers, encourage vigilance and a daily fire-safety prevention routine, and hold annual, mandated NFPA and OSHA fire-safety training sessions. You must ensure your staff is properly trained on fire prevention and safety measures. Also, urge employees to report any potential fire hazards right away.
Only with fire safety prevention and life-safety training will your employees know how to prevent fires, stop fires, and evacuate calmly in the event of a fire. Compliance with NFPA and OSHA fire-safety standards provides the best fire danger protection for customers and staff. It also ensures your employees understand the overarching fire protection requirements for buildings.
In 2018, cooking and unintentional fires accounted for 43,600 nonresidential building fires .– U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS)
FIRE SAFETY FEATURE #6
Choose Fire Protection Companies with Nationwide 24/7 Emergency Services
It may sound unusual that a fire protection company with 24/7 emergency services is a fire safety feature, but commercial fire safety prevention depends on fixing fire equipment and water supply systems right away if there is a malfunction or a leak. What if you have a problem at eleven o’clock at night or five in the morning – who do you call?
When you need emergency fire sprinkler help, fire suppression repair, water leak detection, or any immediate fire equipment or water supply services at your commercial facility 24/7/365, AIE is here for you.
We are the ONLY nationwide fire protection and life safety company in America that has an in-house, toll-free emergency hotline, 1-888-AIE-PALS (243-7257), where calls are always answered by knowledgeable, friendly AIE staff, never a third-party answering service.
AIE’s in-house, call-center experts help limit disruption and minimize the costs of a fire sprinkler system line break or leak. In the event of an accidental discharge, while on the phone, we guide your staff through the process of how to shut the water off quickly to prevent further property damage. We can also direct staff on how to reset the fire pump to get the system back online without having to dispatch a contractor, thus saving the added expense of a service call.
Our experienced on-call team can typically diagnose the problem’s source, whether it is a sprinkler pipe, domestic pipe, or a roof leak, saving unnecessary service calls and getting business up and running much faster. Our one-call process calms the panic and gives you and your staff power over the situation. 24/7 service and support is an essential fire safety measure that is often overlooked.
FIRE SAFETY FEATURE #7
Partner with a Full-Service Fire Safety Company that Takes a Preventative Approach
When it comes to commercial fire prevention features and life safety practices, what really matters is mitigating any chance of fire and keeping your people safe and your business operational. By partnering with a full-service fire protection company like AIE – one that knows your business, gets to know your organization, and takes a preventative approach – you can keep your customers and staff out of fire danger and maintain profitability.
Our ability to support multiple locations across the nation during all phases of fire system design, construction, code consulting and inspections, compliance, maintenance and repairs, and water supply services is unique. We are the only U.S. fire protection company that offers all these services from a single source, with one invoice, one contact, and one set of electronic records.
Other benefits of partnering with AIE for all fire protection solutions include:
- AIE is one of the nation’s top Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Companies.
- Nothing competes with experience; we have 37+ years in the field and our long-term staff averages 12+ years of fire protection service/repair coordination. We know the fire protection requirements for buildings in your area and industry.
- Our team acts as a liaison between your stores, home office, and the local authorities
- We have professional relationships with Fire Marshals and Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) all over the U.S.
- We provide the best national fire protection services because AIE has developed an optimized, nationwide contractor network.
- Multiple contractors in any one area ensure that the best service is provided for every location at the best price.
- We have our own in-house, licensed engineers who take a personal interest in your fire protection measures.
- AIE is known for helping clients drive down costs with knowledgeable decisions and bulk negotiated rates.
Ensure the Best Commercial Fire Prevention: Fire Safety Features in Your Buildings
Maintaining these fire safety features in buildings is essential. Commercial fire prevention can easily take a backseat to other, seemingly higher priorities, but unintentionally set fires are still one of the most common sources of lost revenue for U.S. businesses ($505,900,000 in 2018 per NFIRS).
Fire prevention in buildings is an important aspect of maintaining a safe and successful business. If you enact these seven fire safety features, you will create a safe working environment at every location, without the fear of danger, stay operational and avoid long-term losses, and maintain trust among employees, visitors, and customers alike.
AIE fire protection solutions will provide your multi-site facilities with reliable, measurable value and safety, 365 days a year. Contact us today for a long-term fire-protection partner, at your service. 800-892-9863