Bulletin 124 June 2009 Building Life Safety Essentials
- Posted at: September 25, 2021 04:14:40

Although many workers believe that their workplace can continue to provide them with an income during these difficult economic times, the fact remains that a decline in generated business usually results in budget cuts in one form or another. Building management is often one of the first areas to be impacted. Initially, financial restraints may only limit day-to-day activities. However, to minimize the long-term effect on the maintenance of fire and life safety, visible commitment and demonstrated support from top management is crucial. In the aftermath of a fire, an investigation will take place to verify compliance with all safety regulations. Tenants may have assumed that the building manager had contracted for annual inspections of the fire protection essentials. The building manager may have relied entirely on the efforts made during a visit by a certified service provider, immediately filing away reports and failing to follow up on required corrective measures. The building owner may think that his responsibility ends at compliance with building codes established during construction. However, from a legal prospective, it is wise for owners, tenants and others with an on-going interest in the building to use common sense, take proper preventive measures, and practice constant vigilance. Fire suppression and detection systems in modern buildings are innovative and highly effective, but only if they’re inspected, tested, and maintained so that they are fully operational in case an emergency arises. Those who own, manage, and inhabit buildings have a joint responsibility that they can fulfill by working closely with fire industry experts, such as the local fire departments and risk control consultants, to ensure the readiness of people and systems.

Statistics indicate that more than 30 percent of sprinkler-system failures can be attributed to closed control valves. If valves are not pad-locked or electronically controlled, they must be inspected weekly to verify that they are open and that sprinkler systems are active. Even if valves are locked or controlled electronically, they must be inspected at least once a month. Electronic anti-tamper switches that sound an alarm when control valves are turned must be tested quarterly (i.e. every three months). On an annual basis, each valve must be fully closed and then re-opened to ensure proper lubrication and function. Testing a sprinkler system will determine the operational status of the mechanical devices, including alarms and dry pipe valves. Weekly inspections include sprinkler riser pressure gauges, heads, and piping. Fire-department connections and hose stations must be inspected monthly. On a quarterly basis, the water-flow alarms and low-air-pressure alarms must be tested, as well as the water supply at the 2-inch main drain. In recent times, building operators have turned to innovative measures to assist them in identifying problem areas within their building well in advance of a fire hazard. One such measure is infrared thermography, used to locate problems with electrical equipment. Infrared scans will detect electrical hotspots that are producing excessive heat that may lead to fire. In addition to forestalling fires, finding and fixing poor electrical connections before a component fails can save costs associated with energy waste or electrical outages. It is important to develop a fire safety plan, including emergency procedures, evacuation plans, and fire drills, all of which are designed with regard to the specific hazards of a business. Once approved by the fire department, the fire safety plan provides a certified framework for the inspection, testing, and maintenance of the fire and life system equipment by licensed service providers, as required by the national fire code.

This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.

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