Fire prevention begins with you and the people in your building. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that there were nearly half a million structure fires in 2018 and over $11 billion in resulting property damages. A fire can turn from a containable flame to widespread destruction in seconds, and being proactive versus reactive will save time, money, and even lives. What does it mean to be proactive in terms of fire safety? We recommend thinking of fire safety in terms of inspection, protection, and prevention to keep your building and its occupants safe.
A fire safety inspection can involve checking for all potential fire hazards within a building, as well as ensuring equipment and systems are up to current NFPA standards. This critical step assures you and your building occupants that in the event of a fire, there are up to date protocol and safety systems in place. Not only will a fire inspection check smoke alarms, exit doors and signs, sprinkler systems, pumps, and emergency lights; it can also identify fire hazards. Identifying fire hazards and educating your occupants enables them to begin the process of protecting themselves and the property. A fire safety inspection should be your first stop on building safety and fire prevention.
Protecting your building means arming its occupants with fire safety knowledge. When possible, send some building occupants to fire safety training. These occupants can help protect and guide decision making in the event of an unexpected blaze. Building occupants should be made aware of safety evacuation plans with clearly marked escape routes and emergency exits. Additionally, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers should be explicitly marked on escape plans. When you hire a fire and life safety inspection company, be sure to pass on the fire hazards they identify to the people who may live and work in your building every day. Being aware of the hazards gives your occupants the information they need to be proactive in fire safety and protection.
An inspection and the resulting protection it can provide work together to create fire prevention. Preventative maintenance coupled with well-informed occupants creates the best-case scenario if an unforeseen conflagration breaks out in your building. Knowing where your fire extinguishers are can only do so much if they aren’t working or expired. Furthermore, being aware and educating your occupants of the fire hazards that are unique to your building or location is a critical step in fire prevention. The NFPA puts such a stake on fire prevention, that they have sponsored what has since become a National Fire Prevention Week for almost 100 years. Fire prevention week is observed the week of October 9th each year in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire which began to blaze on October 8, 1871 and burned through October 10th. During its uncontained burn, 250 people were killed, 100,000 were left homeless, 17,400 individual structures were destroyed, and more than 2,000 acres of land were left scorched. An unchecked fire is one of the most destructive forces in nature and understanding its causes and preventative measures puts power and safety back in your hands. 1
1— “Fire prevention week,” National Fire Protection Association, 2020