As a good property manager, your biggest priorities are keeping your tenants and the building safe. One huge risks that apartment complexes face are fires. There are ranges, furnaces, and other fire risks in each unit and there is no way to ensure every person is responsible all the time.
The best way to protect the people who live in your building is to ensure the building’s fire suppression systems are inspected regularly and everything is working properly. Your regular fire safety inspection should include the following checkpoints:
- Fire sprinkler systems. Fire sprinklers are a great line of defense against apartment building fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there has never been a fire that took more than two lives in a building with sprinklers that were operating properly.
When inspecting fire sprinklers, make sure the main valve to the sprinkler system is on; this is one of the most commonly forgotten risks. If the valve gets turned off for maintenance and forgotten to turn back on, there is no indication of the issue until a fire takes place and the entire sprinkler system fails to receive water. Unless you check it on a regular basis.
You should also inspect each area a sprinkler is located and make sure nothing is obstructing its ability to properly cover the room in the case of a fire. There should be a clearance of at least 18 inches between the sprinkler and any object in the room, so the nozzle can reach the entire room. This is a common issue in storage rooms, where goods are piled to the ceiling.
- Fire alarms.
You should regularly do a visual inspection of the fire alarms and make sure nothing is blocking them, and that they do not appear to be broken. If furniture or storage has been moved in front of a fire alarm, the occupants will not know to pull it in an emergency.
Additionally, at least once a year, you should have your entire fire alarm system inspected by one of the commercial fire alarm companies in your area. Professionals who work with commercial fire alarm companies will be able to ensure that each individual alarm is relaying properly to the control panel so that the appropriate sound and visual signals are triggered if the alarm is pulled.
- Fire doors and walls.
Ideally, your building will have fire doors that can be closed to prevent the fire from spreading. These doors should be checked to ensure they are intact regularly. Even the slightest weakness in the door will void its ability to act as a barrier to the fire.
Like fire barrier doors, fire barrier walls block the fire from spreading. A common problem in older buildings that are retrofit with cables for internet is that sometimes the internet contractor doesn’t understand the function of the fire barrier wall and drills a large hole into it to run the cables through. This compromises the function of the barrier wall, as heat and fire can spread via the smallest hole. It’s a good idea to use one of the commercial fire alarm companies in your area to conduct a test of the resistance of the fire barrier wall on a regular basis.
Does your apartment complex take any other fire safety precautions that we didn’t mention? Please leave us a comment below with your suggestion.