In 2019, there were 120,000 fires in non-residential structures leading to 110 deaths and $4.3 billion in property damage. Fire prevention and protection programs can mitigate those losses. For example, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that sprinklers effectively control fire spread 96 percent of the time.
Annual fire inspections keep businesses safe and avoid catastrophic damage. Regular inspections make sure little-used safety systems are in place and functioning properly. There are practices you can follow to ensure your inspection goes smoothly. Use our fire inspection checklist to get ready and keep your business or building safe.
How to Prepare for a Fire Inspection
First things first, understand that fire inspectors assess six areas related to fire safety:
- Fire sprinklers
- Fire alarms
- Fire extinguishers
- Electrical safety
- Storage and housekeeping
Fire Inspection Checklist
Use this fire inspection checklist to ensure your building is up to code in these areas before the inspectors arrive:
✔️ Do your homework
Here’s a little pre-work you can do before assessing the physical areas in your building:
- Familiarize yourself with the latest fire codes set by the International Code Council.
- Before the meeting, ask the fire inspector what the inspection will cover.
- Gather documents related to your previous inspections and maintenance certifications for the inspector to review.
Then, to prepare for a fire safety inspection, assess your company’s compliance in the following areas:
- Easy egress: the “means of egress” is the way out of a building. Some of the most deadly fires in U.S. history occurred because people could not open doors to escape the burning building.
- Directional signs: to facilitate a prompt exit during a fire, install directional signs and illuminated exit signs.
- Access to exits: aisles, paths and stairways that lead to exits must be clear of debris and obstructions. Locked doors must be easy for a single person to open without keys or specialized knowledge.
- Exit discharge: refers to the area beyond the exit door. This should lead outside or to a safe area.
✔️ Fire sprinklers
- Fire sprinklers: fire codes mandate regular inspection schedules for different parts of the sprinkler system. Hire professional inspectors to check the equipment and complete reports. For example, our staff is trained in NFPA requirements and local building codes. We inspect fire sprinkler systems at required intervals, email reports to you and complete repairs or maintenance. We also maintain records for authorities.
✔️ Fire alarms
- Test alarms: be prepared to show documentation of routine maintenance and tests safety systems. These include smoke alarms and fire doors that close automatically to contain a fire.
✔️ Fire extinguishers
- Inspect extinguishers: NFPA 10, the code for fire extinguishers, requires a professional inspection each year. However, the code also states that a building manager must inspect extinguishers once a month.
- Mount extinguishers: fire extinguishers must be mounted, they cannot rest on a floor. They should be easily accessible to employees and guests with their locations clearly marked.
✔️ Electrical safety
Electrical distribution and lighting equipment were the leading causes of fires in industrial properties according to an NFPA report. All wiring must comply with the NFPA 70, the National Electrical Code. Walk through your facility and check for the following:
- Electrical boxes: switches and outlets should have covers in place.
- Surge suppressors: should be plugged directly into an outlet and not chained to each other.
- Extension cords: cannot be extended through walls or the ceiling. Cords cannot be covered by rugs or run under doors.
- The main building disconnect: in an emergency, the fire department will need quick access for an electrical shut down. The main building disconnect and electrical panel box should be identified and accessible.
✔️ Storage and housekeeping
- Flammable or combustible materials: must be kept in approved containers. Don’t store volatile chemicals near equipment that produces heat such as boiler rooms and electrical rooms.
- Excess materials: don’t allow trash and debris to accumulate. Remove it from the building.
✔️ Emergency Access
In addition to evaluating the fire risks noted above, a fire inspector will assess how easy it is for emergency personnel to access your building.
- Evaluate the entrance: the building’s street address must be clearly marked.
- Clear fire lanes: if your street has fire lanes, always keep these clear of any obstructions.
- Hydrants clearance: there must be a three-foot clearance space on all sides of a hydrant. No landscaping or structures should block hydrants.
- Master keys: keep keys to the building in one place to make it easy for the fire department to access your building if a fire occurs after business hours. This can be inside the building or in a key box mounted outside the entrance.
Prepare for Your Fire Inspection
This checklist helps you prepare your building for a fire safety inspection with confidence. But building owners or managers don’t need to become experts in fire protection. Partner with a fire protection company that will handle the installation, inspection and maintenance of your fire protection and prevention systems. Let A&A Fire Protection make your building safer for employees and customers.