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Preparing For Your Annual Fire Inspection

 

Preparing for a Fire Safety Inspection: Your Fire Inspection Checklist

There is a regulation to maintain the Essential Fire Safety Measures within a building and this is defined in the EP&A Regulations and appropriate standards. Maintenance is regulated to ensure the Essential Fire Safety Measures serving an effected building are always in place and in a working condition. The Essential Fire Safety Measures are to be in an operable condition throughout the year.

The regulations place an overriding responsibility on owners of buildings to keep their essential fire safety measures in place and in working order throughout the year. At least once each year they must provide evidence they are meeting these statutory obligations by way of submission of certification, known as an AFSS (Annual Fire Safety Statement), to the relevant council. A copy of this certification must be forwarded to the NSW Fire Brigades and displayed in the building. Annual Certification

“Fire safety statement” (the owners routine certification verifying they are meeting their statutory obligations).

Your fire safety inspection checklist should include the following important items:

  • Collect copies of previous inspection reports.
  • Collect proof of system service and inspections.
  • Make appointments for any outstanding safety systems maintenance.
  • Make appointments for any outstanding heat systems maintenance.
  • Protect special hazards.
  • Clear hallways and stairwells.
  • Store flammable and combustible materials properly.
  • Store incompatible materials separately.
  • Ensure quick and easy entry for the fire department.
  • Make sure the fire department can access water.
  • Label and maintain electrical system components.
  • Use extension cords appropriately.
  • Ensure computers have power strips.
  • Text exit signs and directional lighting.
  • Assess fire extinguisher location(s).
  • Assess sprinkler head clearance.
  • Post any required signage.

By reviewing and completing these items before your fire inspection, you’ll have a greater chance of passing and remaining in compliance with fire safety regulations.

1. Collect Copies of Previous Inspection Reports

Being proactive makes a good impression and lets the inspector know the company is invested in meeting requirements. Provide documentation of steps the company took to address any previous violations.

2. Collect Proof of System Service and Inspections

Collect the necessary paperwork to prove that licensed professionals have serviced fire alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and fire pumps within the required timeframe. How often is a fire inspection required? As per AS1851 section 6 Fire Detection and Alarm Systems Routine Service, fire alarms are typically serviced either monthly, annually, and 5 yearly. Pumps sets monthly, 6 monthly, annually and 5 yearly maintenance.

Collect the necessary paperwork to show that cooking hoods, if applicable, have been serviced by a licensed professional within the required timeframe (usually the past six months for standard cooking operations). Additionally, collect any necessary paperwork to show that any generators have been serviced by a licensed professional within the required timeframe, usually the past year.

3. Make Appointments for any Outstanding Safety Systems Maintenance

Maintain safety systems with the help of reputable, licensed contractors. Inspection, testing, and maintenance of these systems can be complex and requires trained professionals with significant expertise in the field.

The company that provides inspection services should be able to complete or coordinate installation and and repair services to make sure everything is working correctly. This company should also provide detailed documentation of any problems and their solutions. 

4. Make Appointments for any Outstanding Heat Systems Maintenance

Make sure all appliances that generate heat are regularly maintained. These appliances include boilers, furnaces, radiators, stoves, ovens, and heat-producing manufacturing equipment. In the kitchen, cooking appliances should have hoods and hood suppression systems for automatic suppression of kitchen fires. These systems must also receive regular maintenance.

5. Protect Special Hazards

In a business, special hazards as per Section 7 AS1851 – 2012 can include fuel driven pumps, computer server rooms, chemical storage areas, and any other place with a high concentration of flammable or combustible materials. Make sure these hazards gain protection with properly maintained and inspected systems.

6. Clear Hallways and Stairwells

Maintain access to exits throughout the building. Many businesses that fail their fire inspections do so because they have provided insufficient means of egress. For example, businesses may store items in the hallways that lead to exit doors. If a fire occurred, these items would dramatically limit the flow of traffic out of the building.

Stairways and corridors should also include features such as fire doors and latch release mechanisms. All exit doors should be unobstructed and should open without difficulty for a single person without specialized keys or knowledge.

7. Store Flammable and Combustible Materials Properly

Typically, combustible materials must be stored a certain distance from the ceiling in approved containers that are in good condition. Store flammable and combustible materials in amounts that do not exceed the maximums set by each state. Do not store them in rooms where heat is produced, such as boiler rooms and electrical rooms. Additionally, do not keep them near appliances such as coffeemakers, microwaves, stoves or ovens, portable heaters, or any other heat-producing electronic devices.

8. Store Incompatible Chemicals Separately

Incompatible materials — for example, ammonia and bleach, which combine to form potentially toxic fumes — must be separated. Typically, they must be at least 6 metres away from each other, or separated with a noncombustible partition that extends at least 40cms above and beyond the incompatible substances.

9. Ensure Quick and Easy Entry for the Fire and Rescue

Take the required steps to help emergency personnel quickly and easily gain access to your building. These steps include labeling the building with clearly marked address numbers that can be seen from the road and making sure that fire lanes remain unobstructed.

According to national construction codes, all buildings must give firefighters safe and immediate access. Most businesses comply with this code by mounting fire department lock boxes on their buildings’ exteriors. In an emergency, the fire department can open the lock boxes by using a master key.

10. Make Sure the Fire Department Can Access Water

Make water accessible by ensuring that fire hydrants are clearly marked and available. Fire hydrants must have 1 metre of clear space on all sides for firefighter access. Prohibiting personal and company vehicles from parking near and blocking fire hydrants is imperative. Additionally, ensure the fire department connection (storz) that allows firefighters to supply water to a sprinkler system is also clearly marked and accessible.

11. Label and Maintain Electrical System Components

All electrical panels should have their circuits properly labeled. In addition, electrical panels should have a clear space of at least 76cms in front of them, so employees can reach them easily and shut them off in an emergency. There should be no storage in the electrical rooms. All electrical outlets and circuit panels should also have plate covers for safety.

12. Use Extension Cords Appropriately

Extension cords should be in good condition, intended for heavy-duty use, grounded, and used temporarily only with small appliances. Never use extension cords that are split or frayed. If there are multiple appliances plugged into a surge protector, it must be a power strip with built-in circuit breakers. Powering a room full of laundry machines with an extension cord, for instance, is a fire code violation. Never staple any electrical cord to the wall to keep it out of the way, or hide it under a rug. Additionally, do not use extension cords as substitutes for permanent wiring.

13. Ensure Computers have Power Strips

Make sure computers are plugged into surge protectors with built-in circuit breakers. Built-in circuit breakers help reduce the risk of electrical fires. These “power taps” as the code calls them must be plugged directly into a wall outlet.

14. Test Exit Signs and Directional Lighting

Exit signs and emergency lights must work properly, both on regular power and backup power. Most exit signs and emergency lighting systems should have battery backups. Properly functioning lights and signage are crucial and allow employees to escape the building in case of fire.

15. Assess Fire Extinguisher Location(s)

Ensure that there are enough fire extinguishers to cover your square footage. Fire extinguishers should be easily accessible to employees and guests throughout the building as well as their locations being clearly marked .

16. Assess Sprinkler Head Clearance

Make sure ceiling sprinkler heads have 45cms of clearance. Maintaining space around overhead sprinklers helps them distribute water effectively in a fire. Buildings that are not protected by sprinklers require a minimum of 60cms of clearance from ceiling to top of storage.

17. Post any Required Signage

Throughout the building, post signage indicating the best escape pathways to exits. These signs should be posted in every main area of the building.

Keep the front door unlocked and post a sign nearby instructing people to keep the door unlocked when the area is occupied. Keeping the front door unlocked is required by law and keeps people from getting trapped in the building during a fire.

In every room designated for assembly, post a permanent sign declaring the maximum occupancy of that room. This sign should be clear and legible and posted conspicuously near the main exit doorway.

Near the elevators, post a sign as a reminder to use the stairs, not the elevator, in case of an emergency. Elevators can malfunction during a fire and trap people inside.

Preparing for a Fire Safety Inspection:  Inspections Save Lives

Finally, remember that, no matter how inconvenient fire inspections may seem, they take place to ensure the safety of everyone who works in the company. A fire inspection can be difficult, but the damage or loss of life caused in a fire can devastate a business, often permanently.

Prepare for a Fire Safety Inspection with Complete Fire and Pumps

Complete Fire and Pumps offers a variety of resources to help prepare for a fire safety inspection. CFP’s testing, inspection, maintenance, and repair expertise includes fire sprinklers, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, kitchen hood suppression systems, backflow systems, emergency and exit lights, special hazards, and clean agent systems, as well as fire alarm monitoring.

Yours in Fire Safety

Alex

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