Fire inspections are a catalyst to the creation of safer working spaces.
There can be no doubt that workplace fire safety should be a top priority for all business owners and that is where fire inspections come in.
Fire inspections exist mostly to highlight fire risk, point out potential fire hazards, and provide a framework upon which to improve business basic fire prevention practices.
But just who conducts these fire inspections, when are they conducted and how frequent?
In this post, we’re going to answer all these questions and more, but first, “What is a fire inspection anyway?”
What is a Fire Inspection?
A fire inspection is a routine assessment of a business’s compliance with the local fire code. Essentially, a fire inspection is carried out by a fire department and is designed to identify any fire code violations as well as propose solutions for correction.
What’s more, the exercise also has a secondary function and that is the education of the business owner on general fire safety best practices as well as increasing cognizance of the Ontario Fire Code.
Why are Fire Inspections Important?
According to Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General, in Canada, 13% of fires reported to the Office of The Fire Marshal and Emergency Management between 2010 and 2019 occurred within a business premise.
Source: Office of The Fire Marshal and Emergency Management
In 2019 there were on average 793 fire injuries and 67 fire-incident related fatalities. Furthermore, these fire incidents led to an estimated $968.9 million worth of damage and loss.
Source: Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General
Frequency of a Fire Inspection
Addressing the issue of frequency or how often you should have a fire inspection conducted, the general guidelines as presented by the Ontario Fire Code are:
· Monthly inspections for fire alarms
· Annual inspections for fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, exit lighting
· Annual inspections for smoke alarms
However, it’s worth noting that some enterprises and facilities need more frequent inspections because of the nature of their business. Typical examples would be places that see high volumes of people such as hotels, hospitals, theatres, and nightclubs.
Additionally, the more levels to buildings, i.e. high-rise complexes, the stricter the fire code requirements because of the number of people in the building and the associated complexity of mass evacuation in case of a fire.
Advantages of Regular Fire Inspection
There are numerous advantages that come with complying with annual fire inspection. These include:
Business continuity: Did you know that 80% of companies that suffer a fire incident never recover? Regular inspections can assist with quicker recovery times as they help you ascertain your risk level which in turn enables you to develop more robust fire safety plans and business continuity strategies.
Improved safety: The need to feel safe and secure is a fundamental human need according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Working in a fire compliant building provides employees with a sense of security and peace of mind while working.
Better property and business valuation: Should you ever decide to sell your business or the property in which your business currently operates, you stand to get a better valuation for the property and or business if there have been no fire issues and everything is up to date with compliance standards.
Reduced insurance costs: Property insurance can be expensive and even more so for buildings that are considered as high risk. On the other hand, property that’s well-maintained and equipped with state-of-the-art fire protection systems will attract lower insurance fees.
Retain customers: Fires don’t only affect your employees; they affect everyone you do business with. During downtime, you stand to lose loyal clients as they seek to have their needs met elsewhere. Following fire codes greatly mitigates fire risk and the downtime that can occur.
Now that we know why fire inspections are important and their advantages, let’s consider what inspectors will be assessing during a fire inspection.
Fire Inspection Assessments
So, what will fire inspectors be assessing exactly? Here is a basic checklist to guide you:
(i) Existing Fire Protection Systems
A fire inspector is interested in both your active and passive fire protection systems.
Active systems refer to physical hardware such as a fire sprinkler system, smoke alarms, and fire extinguishers. While passive systems are those resources that prevent fires from spreading or assist with evacuation such as exit doors and lighted exit signs.
(ii) Potential Fire Hazards
Every level within the building will be meticulously appraised for anything that could trigger a fire or act as an ignition source. So things such as frayed wires, damaged cables, faulty appliances will all be noted in the final report for you to rectify.
(iii) Ease of Access
How easy is it for first responders to gain entry into the building in the event of a fire? Time is a precious commodity during such incidents. Therefore, emergency service teams need easy access to the building.
These points are derived from the fire inspection checklist that most inspectors follow. A fire inspection checklist is simply a list of requirements laid out in each province’s Fire Code that dictates the ordinances and standards expected to be followed during fire safety inspection. This checklist explains what businesses need to do in order to be compliant.
Bonus Tip: To help you prepare you can request a sample fire safety checklist prior to your fire inspection from the Fire Department so you can see which fire code violations are the most common and which you’re guilty of ahead of time.
Schedule a Fire Inspection Today
If you would like to learn more about fire protection, the fire safety equipment to have in your building, and what sort of information to include in your fire safety plan, reach out to Nutech Fire Prevention.
Alternatively, if you are ready to schedule a fire inspection to assess your business, risks, and hazards, we are only one phone call away.
For all your fire alarm systems, fire warning solutions, emergency backup generators, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans and sprinkler systems think Nutech Fire Prevention.
Request a free quote today.