Back in February 2019, a man running two companies contracted to offer fire protection services to three buildings in Toronto was convicted and fined $67,500.
Why? Well, during a fire hazard audit a series of unsafe practices were uncovered including – failure to inspect, test and repair building fire safety systems.
At this point, you might be a little concerned about being in violation of the Ontario Fire Code. No need to worry, in this post, we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to include in your fire hazard audit checklist.
But first, what is a fire hazard audit?
What is a Fire Hazard Audit and Fire Hazard Audit Checklist?
A fire hazard audit, also known as a fire safety audit, is an inspection of your building carried out by a fire inspector. During this investigation, your fire safety plan and other documents related to managing hazards and fire on your premises will be evaluated.
A fire hazard audit checklist is simply a list of points to be considered during the audit. A typical checklist will request documents containing information about:
· Your fire risk assessments
· Action plans generated after fire risk assessments
· Emergency fire plans for your building
· Fire prevention and protection measures
· Company fire training courses, programs, and procedures
· Evidence of your fire safety maintenance plans – a.k.a Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM)
· Proof of regular fire system testing
Fire systems that must be examined on a routine basis that auditors will want to see the documentation for include (but are not limited to):
· Firefighting equipment (fire hoses, fire extinguishers)
· Fire detection and warning systems (smoke and fire alarms)
· Emergency exit lighting
· Water mist and sprinkler systems
· Ventilation system
· Electrical wiring on the premise
· Fire door and shutter system interfaces
After the fire hazard audit, the findings will be compiled into a report. The audit inspector will create a list of recommendations for non-compliant areas and remedial actions that must be taken to rectify problems.
The inspector might also give enforcement notices depending on the severity of the non-compliance issues. Deadlines on when these breaches need to be resolved will also be stated. Failure to fix said problems can lead to prosecution.
Now that we know what a fire hazard audit and a fire hazard audit checklist are, here is why they are so critical.
The Importance of Fire Hazard Audits
There is no more effective tool to help establish fire safety standards within a building than a fire hazard audit. Fire safety audits are pivotal in helping to identify potential hazards. Here are some reasons why fire hazard audits are important:
1. Identifies weaknesses in fire safety equipment
All fire safety equipment documentation will be thoroughly assessed during a fire audit.
Evidence demonstrating that all fire prevention and suppression systems such as smoke and fire alarms, fire hoses, fire extinguishers, sprinklers are tested regularly will need to be shown to the auditor.
Using this information and their own evaluation, the auditor will be able to point out any weaknesses with the fire safety equipment that needs to be rectified as soon as possible.
2. Assesses employee fire safety knowledge
Prevention is indeed always better than cure where a fire is concerned. Fire hazard audits will reveal how much employees know about fire safety and highlight areas that need to be re-taught.
· How much do building occupants know about fire safety?
· In the event of a fire incident, can they calmly and effectively find their way out to the safe meeting place?
· Do they know at least two ways out of the building?
These are just sample questions the fire inspector may pose to employees as part of the fire hazard audit. The auditor may also want to see records of any mock fire drills conducted.
3. Evaluates your fire safety plan
Fire safety plans are a primary resource that provides tailored information about a particular building’s fire safety management objectives.
It is a document that details the protocol to follow during emergencies, lays out site safety regulations, and discusses the various means of egress.
It’s not uncommon for fire inspectors to discover that fire safety plans are outdated and at times haven’t taken into account changes in commercial use or recent building refurbishments.
So now that we’re aware as to why fire hazard audits are important, how often should you have a fire hazard audit conducted?
When to Schedule a Fire Hazard Audit
According to the law, people responsible for buildings (e.g. property managers, building owners and employers) are required to protect building occupants.
They are mandated to follow and implement fire safety regulations. Failure to comply can lead to hefty penalties, fines, and sometimes even prison.
The Ontario Fire Code requires fire hazard audits to be conducted on all commercial premises in addition to communal areas within residential properties.
How often should those responsible for buildings schedule fire hazard audits? The recommendation is at least once a year.
However, if the building is renovated, altered in any way, or commercial use changes, it is imperative that a fire hazard audit be commissioned as soon as renovation work is completed.
A fire hazard audit is just one cog in your fire safety efforts – but a very important part. As a building owner or employer, you have a legal responsibility to create safer working spaces for your employees and do everything you can to mitigate fire incidents.
For a fire hazard audit to be comprehensive, it must include examinations of fire safety documentation and discussions with employees regarding fire safety to see how much they know about the topic. This can only be done by a licensed fire specialist.
If you are based in Ontario and you don’t recall when the last time you had a fire hazard audit was, then it’s probably time to book an appointment with local fire experts Nutech Fire Prevention.
In addition, we also offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.
Request a free quote today.